So, I’ve ordered (and received, super quick!) the Precision Nutrition certification course. I’ve been loving the way the Dr. Berardi thinks, speaks, and educates about nutrition. I can’t wait to get started!
Nutrition, portion control, and healthy eating habits have been a lifelong interest of mine, mostly because I find them so challenging. The thing I like best about PN is the one-by-one, meet-you-where-you’re-at habit coaching. Diets are easy and short-lived, lifelong healthy habits are not.
For much of my life, I’ve had a rocky relationship with food. I generally make okay food choices, generally eat huge portions once a day and little else the rest of the day (which is another reason I like PN – they’re not so hung up about when you eat, but rather what and how).
My personal food challenge is change. I’ve been making my own meals since I was eight. With two working parents, and a busy extra-curricular schedule growing up, I became very accustomed to doing things a particular way. I wanted my plate set up a particular way, with nothing touching, with a certain food pairings, certain plates, certain portions and so on.
This is one of the reasons that I used to love McDonald’s – no matter where I was in the world, a McDonald’s sandwich would always taste the same. This was the framework around which my eating revolved. It took me years to try sushi (which I now super love), and even more years to eat more than three things off the menu at the all-you-can-eat buffet. At most restaurants, I would eat one dish that I knew was safe – I would never, ever try anything that included an ingredient that I hadn’t tasted before.
The height of the food neurosis came in college, where everything changed. In a new city, with new roommates, and new everything else, food was the one place that I could find sameness and comfort. I cut the same number of cheese slices to be melted in my macaroni & cheese every time, always ate 12 chicken wings and half a plate of fries, wouldn’t make a dish unless all of the components – including garnishes and the “right” plate and utensils were available. I’d freak out if my roommates suggested eating together. I’d freak out if a restaurant couldn’t make my order exactly the way I’d had it prepared last time (the girls at Subway hated me). And if any little thing went wrong with the dish I was ordering, preparing, or planning – the meal was ruined and I wouldn’t eat at all. Until later that night, when I’d eat a bag of chips or swedish berries.
Trust me, I was not a pleasure to live with.
Things didn’t start to change until I moved in with my now-husband, Slim. He simply didn’t put up with the crazy rules and would often sneak unusual things into the meals that he made for us. I remember him cooking turkey bacon (instead of normal bacon) one night, not telling me, and dealing with the fallout. We once had a huge fight about him not cutting a tomato the proper way. But he hung in there, and I gradually relaxed.
I think much of the mealtime relaxing was due to my life becoming more secure. I don’t need food to be the same kind of security blanket that it once was. I still have my hang-ups, and like to do my research before trying things. But I feel that as I learn more about nutrition, I want to try more. Also, there are things I want less – I haven’t eaten McDonald’s for a few years now. While, on tough days, I occasionally crave it’s sameness, I know that I would far prefer to go to my gym and do a familiar workout than fill my body with what they have on offer.
Changing the way you eat doesn’t have to be terrifying. It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. It doesn’t have to be pass or fail.
Rather, it should be a learning process. Trial and error, figuring out what works for you, and how to treat your body the best way you can manage. If you tackle “bite-sized” habits, one at a time, at your own pace, you are far more likely to stick with it and make the lasting changes you want.
For me, that’s not fearing change, and embracing that new foods and dishes can be just as satisfying as old, familiar ones.
So, in the spirit of trying new things, here’s a recipe that I think would be awesome for this rainy day. It’s from Gourmet Nutrition (PN’s awesome cookbook). I (newly) love spaghetti squash and this dish looks amazing.
Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti
Spaghetti squash 4 cups
Coconut oil or butter (melted) 1 tbsp
Salt ¼ tsp
Pepper 1⁄8 tsp
Cinnamon 1⁄8 tsp
Olive oil cooking spray
Ground sirloin or extra lean ground beef (340 g) 12 oz
Onion (small diced) 1 cup
Tomato sauce 2 cups
Cashews (crushed) ¼ cup
Parmesan cheese (grated) ½ cup
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut squash in half and clean out the center and seeds. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil or butter. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon and then place in the oven. Bake squash for 45 minutes or until tender enough to stick a fork into it with minimal resistance. Remove from oven and allow it to cool a little. While the squash is baking, preheat a non-stick frying pan on medium heat, lightly coat with spray and add the ground sirloin. Sauté the sirloin in batches if necessary, until lightly browned and cooked all the way through. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, add in the tomato sauce and cashews, and set aside. Once squash has cooled a little, scoop the flesh out of the skin with a spoon, measure and add it to the meat sauce. Next, reheat in the frying pan on medium until warm. Garnish with the parmesan. Serves 2 large or 4 small.