Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Breakfast of Champs and Time Management Strategies for Living Healthier

Thanks for all of your comments about labels on my last post! I asked for your opinions as to some other changes that may be necessary, and I found that many of you agreed there should be nutrition facts on alcoholic beverages. I couldn't agree more! I really don't understand why they aren't there in the first place, and how those companies get away with it. It's strange...

I also received this comment on my blog, from an anonymous reader:

Gina, as you seem quite knowledgeable regarding all matter of food-related subjects, I have one rather profound question in my opinion) for you: Considering that over the past 30 years or so the number of professionals who deal in health-oriented professions (such as yourself) has increased exponentially in concert with our exposure to nutrition facts (e.g., witness fast-food chains' relatively recent reporting of their meals' nutritional information), why do we, as a nation, continue to live unhealthy lifestyles and gain exorbitant amounts of weight in the process? Wouldn't you think that an influx of health professionals and an enhanced access to nutrition information would help alleviate some of the impacts associated with our pervasive obesity epidemic?

My thoughts: This is a fantastic question. As I read this question I couldn't help but think about all of the "health professionals" that I know, many of whom don't even practice what they preach. Think about it, how many times do you walk or drive by a hospital and see doctors and nurses outside on a smoke break? How many doctors, and even RDs, do you know who are obese, smoke, don't workout, and/or have poor diets? I can actually think of a few off the top of my head! My point is, yes, there has been an increase in the number of people who are choosing health professions, but this doesn't necessarily mean they are teaching the right stuff (many doctors don't even know anything about nutrition...they just give you your the lab values and send you on your way). Not only that but many health professionals, including RDs, cost a good amount of money (50-100 dollars per hour for RDs) to see. Where does this put the people who really need the help? Out in the cold because they can't afford it. It's the sad truth. I always want to help as much as I can by providing FREE dietary guidance when I am able, but it's difficult. I wish it was easier. That's why I created this blog, really. One last comment is that the number of healthy professionals has increased as their need for services have increased. Many people choose a career based on the fact that they know they can get a job, not necessarily based on passion for the field. Thanks for your question.

Breakfast Of Champions
Since I've been on this wheat free diet (FODMAPS) I've had to give my breakfast, and other meals, quite a makeover. For starters, I bought this wheat-free cereal.

Here it is up close. Looks great doesn't it?? haha, maybe not so much, but it is actually quite delicious.

I love how the label highlighted some important facts; wheat free, low sodium, and low fat (although the low fat part wasn't important to me)

And when I'm not eating cold cereal, I've been eating steel cut oats. I never thought I would turn into an oats lover, but reading all of your blogs, and dealing with this IBS diet, has caused me to eat oats more often. I can thank Coco for recommending the steel cut oats over regular oats. They are slightly less processed and have more soluble fiber than some rolled oats, and especially the instant oats. They also have a nuttier flavor and keep me full for a good about of time.

I don't like having to wait 30 minutes every morning while the oats cooked, but thankfully each batch makes 4 servings. I put it in this container, and cut it into four sections after it sits in the fridge for a few hours. This way I have pre-portioned oats for four mornings.

This is where the Breakfast of Champions comes in!
Steel cut oats
Purevia (~1 t)
Pumpkin puree (1/4 cup)
Skippy Extra Crunchy peanut butter (~1 T)

- Keeps me full for almost 3 hours (that's great for me!)
- Provides 1/2 servings of vegetable, lots of fiber, and some healthy monounsaturated fats

Time Management Strategies for a Healthy "At Home" Living
Source: Mark Forster, author of Do it Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management

1) If you have a tendency to mindlessly snack on not so healthy foods, and it bothers you, set aside some time each week and remove anything form your fridge, cabinets, freezer, etc. that you tend to binge on, in an unhealthy way. Leave a special treat for yourself that is portioned so that you don't go overboard. If your spouse or child has a special snack that temps your binge reflex, ask them to hide it from you!

2) Set aside some time week to make a plan for what your meals will be for the week. Follow this by making a list of what ingredients you will need. The author suggests that if you don't do this you will be tempted to eat convenience food (mom, if you're reading this.....take this advice!!). I'll add that you should check out Andrea's blog for some great sample menus and weekly menu plans.

3) Set aside some time each week to pre-cook meat, poultry, etc. Put it in the freezer until you need it. Also pre-cook some vegetables so you and your family always have access to them when you are hungry or when you are looking for a dinner side dish. Preparing some fruit to snack on is also a good idea. I do this each week and it takes me about an hour. It's very much worth it.

4) Slow down when you are preparing food, and take time to enjoy the process. Same goes for when you are consuming the food. Savor the food and enjoy it, rather than eating it so fast you can't even appreciate the uniqueness and taste.

Life Update
It's Tuesday, which means one day closer to Christmas! How are you doing on your Christmas/Hanukkah shopping? I'm about 80% finished, I've just got to buy Nick's mom and sisters some things, and do major wrapping. This weekend my mom and I will be making pepperoni bread and chocolate dipped waffle cones! I have to say, I'm pretty excited about that. Thanks for reading, have a wonderful day!


  1. I love these tips! Also, my doctor is inside a women's hospital. Every time I go there are 50+ nurses outside smoking. It drives me batty!!!! What the heck??

    I have about 50% of my shopping done. Planning to finish this weekend. :)

  2. Great post, Gina!!

    Love your anonymous reader's comment and your response. It IS an interesting question, yes? I would add that in parts of the traditional medical field, the focus is still primarily on treating illness, which of course, is necessary. But, even if the short-term solution of giving someone a "pill" to treat their condition is easier...what is the long-term consequences.

    I work with people in the fitness/wellness field who have been promoting fitness/wellness for 30 years and we've had this discussion...they'll occasionally ask, What have I spent my life trying to achieve when obesity and disease rates are going up, up, up.

    You're right on that access to wellness/nutrition education can be difficult due to cost. I work in diabetes education and while most insurance will cover diabetes education - they won't pay if someone has "pre-diabetes"...which is a great place to make an impact and possibly prevent diabetes.

    Another piece of the puzzle, in my opinion, is that too much of the "diet industry" is promoting unrealistic diets that the average person begins to think, "this is too hard, I can't really do this"....they often don't realize that healthy eating/healthy lifestyle can actually be pretty easy with small changes....

    Great, thought-provoking post- I could go on and on but my brain isn't fully awake yet ;)

    Thanks for making me think!

  3. This was a good answer to that question. I also think it's important to realize the environment/society we live in. We don't live in a place where it's easy to always get around on foot, or have playgrounds and parks that are safe and accessible; you can't drive down the street without seeing a billboard for Coke. If you're hungry and have a dollar, it's easier and cheaper to buy a pack of Ramen noodles than a can of beans.

    We have our priorities all mixed up in this country when it comes to health. If more people saw "real food and exercise" as the real medicine, we wouldn't be in the state we are in re: obesity, malnutrition, the healthcare system.

    (stepping off soapbox)

    Thanks for this thought provoking post!

  4. Interesting question in your comments and good answer. I also like Angie's point that people often think that it's too hard to eat well. That's why I think it's so important to see examples of a healthy diet and that you don't have to be "perfect." But you do have to read labels, plan, etc.

    I love that you frequently point out unhealthy ingredients on your blog. I have cut my salt intake way down over the last few years (I even eat almond butter without salt now), and my taste buds have really changed. I love your frequent salt reminders and your strategies of how to deal with foods that contain too much salt (bulk it up with fresh veggies, etc.).

    I like your tips for healthy eating at home. And thanks for the meal planning shout-out! :) It has truly changed the way we eat and live. And it doesn't take very much time anymore...

  5. Oh I love your oats idea - I usually just make 1 serving in the morning but I get so many great ideas from other bloggers! Thanks!

  6. great post Gina *(as always) i totally agree with you about some people not practicing what they preach! I acutally work with someone ( we are fitness professionals and work in the health industry) who is extremely overweight and eats very unhealthily BUT she does a great job in the position she is in and there are no complaints from anyone!

    those oats that you made look great and what a great idea to pre-portion it out so you dont have to wait that 30 minutes in the morning to make it! I love my overnight oats!

    all finished with my hannukah shopping!!!

  7. I loved your answer to that thought provoking question. I know so many Respiratory Therapist, MDs, and RNs who smoke... while day after day they care for patients with lung cancer, head and neck cancers, & COPD.

  8. I am so with you on your thoughts on the question you were asked. I try to do things free as often as possible. Like health fairs where I am paid by a sponsor and the people there can get free info. I got paid my salary and my patients did not pay to see me. I still get covered for my time, but the patients don;t have to pay. And I hate when doctors try to give out nutrition advice. We once had a doctor try to order the Atkins diet as the diet order in the hospital. He freaked out when we said no and asked why. We explained the hospital diet orders allow only for those in ADA diet manual, and he could review this (and I am sure you know how darn big that thing is) and find an approrpiate diet in there and then try again.

  9. Interesting question. I've noticed that a lot of doctors and nurses are overweight. I think it's due to working to many long hours and not having enough time to meal plan. I guess that's where personal responsibility to make healthy choices comes in. At a certain point, you're responsible for your own actions you know?

    Yummy oats!

  10. Ah I so totally find it frustrating whenever I see doctors/nurses outside smoking. In fact, many doctors live such stressful lives and are often required to work such long hours, that the advice they give to patients is often hypocritical.

    Also, thanks for the cereal review. I love nature's path heritage flakes, and have seen the millet ones but have yet to try them.

  11. such a profound question and you answered it sooo well! I think it seems ironic that the fact that there are more professionals working on health does not mean more health in this society because some of them aren't inconsistent (teach and practice different things). It's a pity but that's the reality. If there was more people like you who do what you do with passion and determination, this situation would get better.
    so glad you're liking steel cuts. I do exactly that, prepare 3-4 proportions each time and reheat! so easy! :D

  12. Oooh! I've never seen pre-portioned oats like that-- I always just make single servings. Great idea-- thanks for sharing!

  13. Great Post Gina!

    That breakfast bowl looks delish!

    I love tip #1... I do a lot of mindless eating at home.

    I cant wait for Christmas!

  14. Since I am living in Europe, all of my holiday shopping so far has been online because I can have gifts shipped directly to my mom's house where we will be for Christmas. That way there is no extra luggage in transit. I am getting so excited to be home with my family for the holidays and to finally start wrapping presents!

  15. Very thought provoking question and a good response on your end. Personally, I feel we as a nation are more obese than ever because the number of vehicle miles traveled per licensed driver has steadily increased over the last 40 years, no one walks anymore.. its cars, cars, cars. High fructose corn syrup is in everything due to over abundance of corn in the nation AND People work longer hours in the US than their European counterparts, making them more fatigued, and as we know, more likely to make bad decisions! I dunno.. just a few thoughts ;)

  16. Fabulous post full of information. Where to begin? I couldn't agree more about "health professionals" that don't walk the walk. I wouldn't go to a dentist with bad breath and I don't want to take health advice from someone who smokes like a chimney and can't walk a block without stopping.

    The Breakfast of champions looks great! I love pumpkin anything.

  17. I love your answer to the question - I also think our WAY to busy lifestyle has something to do with it - also the price of not so good for you food.

    After the holidays I need to make my steel cut oats again - I haven't had them in a long time but they are so delicious - thank you for reminding me.

    I agree about the healthy food planning - I also try to leave out fruit/veggies in plain sight when I open the fridge - grapes, carrots, clementines, etc. This way when I feel like nibbling, I feel no guilt!

  18. *sigh* I agree with you on many fronts - especially not liking the fact that hypocrites are trying to "treat" other people when they obviously need some improvement. But at the same time, i do feel like everybody has their own life stressors and nobody is perfect. Just because a RD appears overweight does not mean she/he isn't healthy or leading a healthy lifestyle. I don't want to be one of those people who are quick to judge before knowing the full story (maybe they have a thyroid problem?). Things like smoking though...THAT can be helped, at least in my opinion.

    I LOVE how you divicded your steed cut oats into 4. I actually make my in duo batches and refidgerate them into individual ramekins. YUMMY!!!! :)

  19. The answer to the comment question was really good. I agree with a lot of what you were saying there.

    Your breakfast looks super yummy. I am very fond of steel cut oats myself and will make a big batch of 8 servings and pre-portion them out once I am done cooking them. Strangely enough I don't eat them for breakfast...I prefer them as a snack with just a little bit of pumpkin pie spice and a splash of milk.

    Couldn't agree more with the time management tips listed. I employ many of them myself.

  20. haven't started the shopping :-[ need to!!
    & your tips are great- it is so nice that u have information like this..i'm sure it is so helpful to many!


  21. Hehehe this post may be one of the reasons why I chose the culinary route, rather than the RD route. I figure if I really want to incorporate nutrition with my culinary degree, I'd rather be Curtis Stone on The Biggest Loser- than the person sitting down and telling the contestants what to eat. BUT I do see where the anonymous e-mailer is coming from. Being apart of the healthy living blogosphere, its deceiving because I think America is different, but then I head out to the real world, and see all the crap people are eating. Sigh.

  22. I do the same thing with steel cut oats - cook ahead of time, then reheat a serving at breakfast time. When you do it that way it's actually a pretty quick breakfast.

  23. great post!!!! i agree! its irritating to see nurses and doctors not practicing what they preach.. you would think that they see first hand what unhealthy living can do..

  24. Great post Gina! I totally agree with your response. I always tell Raymond that if a Dr is overweight or smoke then I don't want to hear what they have to say.

    I am done with my Christmas shopping and have to wrap just a couple gifts since we are leaving town on Saturday AM.

  25. I have seen so many RD's not praticing what they preach. There is also the other side of it as well. I know that there are dietitians who are a lot more strict than I am, but I still think it is important to make sure you are eating a healthy balance.
    Those are great tips listed. I do all of them!

  26. I love how you portion out your oats! Very good idea! I make mine in the microwave but know how much better they are on the stove. Great tips as well. I know I try to keep foods far far away that I might binge on while bored!

  27. YAY for being 80 percent finished with your christmas shopping!! AWESOME girl!! im truly impressed..christmas is still 10 days away and you're on top of yo game!

    LOVE the "breakfast of champs" and how you portion your oats!! so do you just cook them and stick em in the fridge?

  28. These are some great tips!
    I like how you portion out the oatmeal like that, I should give it a try!

  29. oh! i love me some natures path so i'm pretty sure wheat free or not that cereal would be right up my alley

    well whoever posed that question should for sure come out of the anon closet! very intelligista of them :)


  30. Thtat was a fabulous question. That commenter asked a really intelligent one, and I think you responded really well, too.
    ok, I feel like I'm kissing ass each time I read your blog, but I think this is YET another reason why you're such a great RD...you practice what you preach! And live it well, too, not like it's a damn chore!

  31. Good answer to your reader's question. I would also add that there are some ineffective doctors and RDs out there simply because they don't have the people skills to properly "counsel" their clients/patients. It isn't wnough to tell someone what to eat. There is a counseling piece to it for most people and I don't think most doctors and RDs have enough of a background in psychology to know how to understand their clients' are reacting emotionally with food. It is my counseling background that made me want to pursue an RD so that I can specialize in a particular kind of counseling and education.

  32. Your time management strategies are wonderful ... I totally agree :)

  33. Gina, I am officially in love with your blog. I have learned some great info in the past few posts. I agree with the answer to that question. So many of the people in my nursing classes are going into a "health profession" just for the job security or the salary.

  34. Wow, that question from the anonymous reader along with your answer really hit the spot! I've been feeling very much the same. Especially about 'health' professionals who are so narrow-minded in their own profession that they don't assess the patient as a whole, and are so intent on treating the symptoms that they forget about the cause. Grrr! I wish some health professionals were generally more passionate about what they do.

  35. I've only bought one gift so far! Help meeeee!!!

  36. that is an interesting ponderance and very very true! my grandma is a nurse and is the unhealthiest person I know haha she drinks coke like water, smokes and orders dessert first, but I love her :) I think that many of us know and have the information to eat heathlier, but it's mastering the behavior change that is the challenge and actually making the decision for a complete lifestyle change. That's the link that is tough, and the money of course.
    mmm . . steel cut oats are great, have you tried TJ's quick cook steel cut? They only take about 10-12 min :)
    great tips! pre-planning makes such a difference. Have a great holiday! I have yet to get caught up on my shopping haha have fun with your mom!!

  37. I couldn't agree more on the nutritional info on alcoholic beverages. I found out a 12 ounce Sam Adams has 25 grams of carbs - which equates to 5 units of insulin!

    Hope you post your pepperoni bread!

  38. Great post as usual!!=) I really liked your response to the question. And it was a great quesion. Its something i have been wondering alot myself. I think alot of people know its unhealthy but dont want to do anythig about it. Like smoking, its a hands down fact its absolutely horrible for you. Nothing good about it, but yet millions still smoke alot!
    Steel cut oats are so tasty! I love anything with oats! I really liked how you made a big batch and cut it up into servings sizes. Great idea so thanks for sharing!
    I hope you have fun finishing up your shopping! You are so on top of things! I still have like half of my shopping left. aahh! Anyways I hope you have a great time sweetie!! Take care!

  39. Your time management tips are spot on! I am at my best when I do food prep on Sunday's that way I have healthy food ready to eat all week long.

    I love your breakfast of champions! I might have it as a mid-afternoon meal of champions after my workout today.

  40. I can't agree more about the unhealthy behaviors of SOME medical professionals. I have planned a lot of medical conferences with my job and they eat the junk more than anything else!

  41. Good tips! I like that the cereal is sweetened with FRUIT rather than other kinds of sugar, too.

  42. A very thought provoking post Gina!!
    A similar question was thrown at me by one of my patients who had come for a regular check-up(and since the package included a diet consult,I was asked to see him).In between the counseling(which was the regular don't eat this,exercise,etc) he smiled and asked me if I followed any of the advice that I was so professionally doling out to him. That set me thinking-and the very next week I enrolled in a gym and started working out regularly. It wasn't like I was overweight or had any health problems(neither did the said patient)!
    I have a major sweet tooth-and it's a battle keeping them at bay!Moderation and exercise have always worked for me :)

  43. Okay, so I could write an entire book on that person's question. I like your answer!

    I have so much shopping left to do it isn't even funny! Luckily, I don't really see any of my family and do all my shopping online.

  44. Hey Gina! Isn't it nice that steel cut oats makes 4 servings? It's more like 3 for me (oops?), but it reheats really well! I usually make some on Saturday or Sunday and eat it for the week.

    Cereal looks great! Good luck with finishing up your shopping, I'll be doing the same!

  45. I think that although the number of health professionals have increased, the number of carcinogen and other environmental factors and the quality of our food has decreased. In addition, the number of health professionals is not necessarily a gauge of the health of our nation because a lot of these workers have jobs dedicated to downstream care, that is, treating the effects of diseases versus prevention. Also, you can have as much nutritional information as you want, but that doesn't mean people will follow it or pay attention to it. And, as you've mentioned, a lot of it is really confusing and even conflicting.

    Great post, Gina!

  46. Your breakfast of champs looks SO delicious!!! I'm also very excited about the millet-rice cereal, because my mom is wheat intolerent - do you mind my asking where you found the cereal? I'm excited to tell her about it! Thank you!

    Thank you for this incredibly important post about health care professionals... I am still shocked every single day about how many of my fellow nurses smoke and live very unhealthy lifestyles, all the while telling their patients to quit smoking... SIGH... Hopefully more and more people will be inspired by your powerful, insightful words - thank you for being such a great agent of positive change!