Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Unprocessed Food for Thought

We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.  ~ Alfred E. Newman

Sad, but true isn't it?

When I think about all of the processed/artificially flavored foods I have eaten over the course of my 39 years on Earth, I wonder just how many days/weeks/months I've shaved off my life...I would imagine all of that crap must have done at least some kind of internal damage. Oy vey! (I should probably mention I'm sitting here sipping a Crystal Light lemonade as I type this - sorry, Alfred!)

This new weight loss journey has me focused on what I'm eating more than ever before. Having been on a multitude of diets throughout my life, of course food has been in the forefront of my thoughts a great deal. However, this time, I find myself really concentrating on processed versus whole or natural foods, much more so than in the past. 

During the MANY times I was on Weight Watchers, all pre-Points Plus days) I remember eating tons of processed foods, which I think is the opposite of what they probably had in mind for people following the program. The fact is - I found it so damn easy to just look at the labels of all of the processed stuff (soup, crackers, bread, pre-packaged lunch meat and even candy and cookies) to calculate my points versus having to look up things that didn't come with a label  (ie: lean meats or any healthy recipe I'd be inclined to make). In my mind, knowing right off the bat that a pepperoni pizza Lean Pocket was "X" amount of points made it the better choice for me. It meant I didn't have to dig out my food scale, weigh my chicken, cook it and figure out the calories, fat, etc. It's horrible, I know, and it's a good indicator of why I probably didn't stick with WW. I knew I was eating too much sodium, for starters. I found myself cooking less. Technically, I was doing the program "right" by counting points, logging my activity, etc, but I was not eating optimally - and that was my fault entirely. I was lazy, which I fully admit. Had I put in the work that many WW devotees do, and calculated points for healthier items that didn't come from a package, I may have succeeded. I guess in hindsight, I was looking for the easiest way possible to eat and lose weight - but it backfired. That is not what WW is all about, but I tried to pretend it was. I was lured in by the idea that I could "eat what I want, just make sure you count the points." It made me think candy bars, cookies, crackers and pretzels and ice cream were still OK to have while dieting - on a regular basis - as long as I held myself accountable for them. Guess what? They're not. At least not in my world.

I don't think I'm alone in the sea of Weight Watchers dieters that did this - in fact, I think it may have become such an issue that that is why they switched to the Points Plus system where now, as I understand it, most fruits and veggies are "0" points, encouraging more consumption of those healthier things over the boxed/bottled/canned stuff many of us ate while on the program.

In no way do I blame Weight Watchers for my dieting failures. As a matter of fact, I credit them with helping me at least THINK about the food I put in my mouth, because once upon a time, I can tell you that I didn't give a rat's ass about what I shoveled in (a-hem, chicken wings and beer in mass quantities, for example - and that's just the tip of the fat-laden iceberg). WW got me into the habit of label reading, which I still do faithfully. That practice alone has caused me to take off, and then promptly put back, food on the shelf at the store time and time again. I have calorie and fat guilt often before I even think about eating things now. Hey, it's not the worst thing to have come out of being on Weight Watchers.

This time around, I'm not on any given program, per se. It's more of a Rochelle-developed plan that I hope will allow me to lose weight in a way that promotes healthier and more conscious or mindful eating. So far, it seems to be working, meaning I am removing many processed staples in my diet and replacing them with more fruits, veggies and homemade items. I also am listening to my body and it's signs of hunger - and I have come to realize that much of my mindless eating was due to boredom or stress. I am trying to recognize symptoms of these things and make sure that if they do arise that I don't just dive head first into the Nutella. I also want to make sure I don't pop open a "healthy snack" (ie: almonds) and polish off the whole can. Ultimately, the goal is to eat when I am hungry, and maintain portion control. Don't let myself get so ravenous that I can't stop myself from overeating. Don't let myself be unprepared without healthy options in the house. Make sure I get my water in. These will be my weapons of defense.

And so, in the spirit of healthier eating, and diminishing processed foods, I am going to try this black bean burger recipe this week as one of my vegetarian meals (with this side of roasted acorn squash) and also this fantastic sounding mexican shrimp cobb salad as a healthy dinner salad option. Summer is such a great time to try these new light recipes. I'm excited to be back in the kitchen again, and feeling good about what I'm making.

I'll be sure to share my opinions on these recipes after I have tried them. In the meantime, happy eating and exercising, everyone!


  1. Oh, and I forgot to add that I am going to have roasted squash with 0% fat greek yogurt. I can't wait. :)

  2. (Ooops! Looks like my first comment didn't post. I guess I skipped the word verification.)

    I love the points plus program. It's my first time on WW and it's been my most effective diet to date. I love choosing "free" fruit and veggies over 100 calorie snack packs. In fact, I've eliminated most processed foods as well and it's made a huge difference in my appetite, cravings and weight loss. Everything I eat is usually a single ingredient at a time. Or, if I do cook, the parts of the whole are easy to recognize and usually grow that way. :)

  3. Eating a mostly plant-based diet is probably one of the best and most effective ways to lose weight and transform your overall health. It is amazing how much processed crap is out there in "the gap." If you put crap in your body, that is how you will feel and how you will look. There is no disputing that. If you put healthy fruits and vegetables in your body, you will be so thankful you did and the results will show. Not only will it help you lose weight, but you will feel like a million bucks. I have chosen to eat a diet free from as much processed foods as possible, eliminated most animal products and replaced with plant based foods and cut out the booze and exercise EVERYDAY. I have never experienced so much improvement in my overall health and appearance, that I cannot even begin to express my amazement.
    Rochelle you are making the most sensible and smartest decision in your diet transformation...you are starting to change your relationship with food and that is just the beginning. I am so thrilled to see this!
    As for WW, I did that as well and was able to lose 15 pounds and keep it off. The thing about WW is that there is too many free choices and for people who need to lose a lot of weight, it can be daunting. Sure, you can have a glass of wine or slice of pizza for your daily allotted points. Is that a sensible part of dieting--absolutely not. What happens when you reach your allotted points for the day and you are still hungry? Chances are one will go off the diet= less success. Thank goodness, WW figured it out that fruits and vegetables, in any quanity (sans any additives >15cals) is allowed and encouraged!
    It is about time they catch up to what is a smart way to diet and is conducive to long term healthy lifestyle change. Remember, this is a lifelong marathon....all the behaviors that you practice and do everyday to lose weight you NEED to continue the rest of your life. Until next time!! Keep up the good work Ro!