When Organic Is Better

We all know that organic foods provide no additional health or nutrition benefits  compared with nonorganic foods. But eating organic can often help reduce the amount of pesticides and other chemicals we consume directly through our food intake. I am quite aware that many fresh fruits and veggies contain harsh chemicals. However, like many Americans, I can’t always afford to buy organic produce, which in most cases, is more expensive than nonorganic.

The Dirty Dozen

According to the latest report by the Environmental Working Group, there are actually nonorganic fruits and veggies which may contain very low amounts of pesticides. In the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, the EWG lists 12 fruits/veggies to always buy organic because of their tendency to contain the highest amounts of pesticides. Likewise, they list 15 types of produce (the Clean 15) which contain low amounts of pesticides, and, therefore, would be safe to buy in the nonorganic form. Let’s take a look…

As reported by the EWG in its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides:

The Dirty DozenWorst Fruits/Veggies (those that contain the most pesticides and would be better to buy organic)

  1. Peach
  2. Apple
  3. Bell Pepper
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarine
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Kale
  9. Lettuce
  10. Grapes (imported)
  11. Carrot
  12. Sweet Potato

The Clean 15 – Best Fruits/Veggies (those that contain the lowest amounts of pesticides and would be safe to buy in the nonorganic form)

  1. Onion
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet Peas
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Papaya
  12. Watermelon
  13. Broccoli

You can actually download the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides for free. It’s a great cheat sheet to take with you to the grocery store to remind you which fruits and veggies to buy.

Happy Organic Shopping Everyone!

What Kind of Runner Are You?

A new acquaintance of mine recently asked me why I run as much as I do. I just like it – I replied. Probably not the answer she was looking for. After our conversation, I came across a running quiz on the Female Network that aims to find the essence of why runners run. I decided to take the quiz to see how accurate it was.

The 5-question quiz is very straight-forward and took less than 2 minutes to complete. Your answers will then determine what running personality most matches your own:

What kind of runner am I?

  • The Potential Runner: Running isn’t your first choice of exercise but you run on occasion.
  • The Socializer: For you, running isn’t really about running, it’s about who you’re running with and what you’re gossiping about when you do.
  • The Fitness Runner: Running for you is a stress reliever and a way to engage in a healthy lifestyle.
  • The Competitor: You run to win, or at least run with the intention of beating your personal best.
  • The Pure Runner: You run because running is your life. It’s not about the competition or bonding with friends, it’s the thrill of lacing up your shoes and having your feet pound on the free, open road.

I am a pure runner. The description was pretty accurate. There is no other exercise or physical activity that makes me feel as strong, as relaxed, as graceful, and as healthy as running. I don’t need an excuse to run – like to lose weight or to win a race – I run because I am a runner and that’s what runners do.

So, what kind of runner are you?

Avoid Weight Gain While Traveling

Today, I booked yet another business trip. This time, I’ll be headed to Orlando in April for a continuing education conference. Finally – a business trip where I don’t actually have to work! If all goes as planned, I will have logged at least 8 business trips this year.

Although traveling for business can get old, one thing I do enjoy is eating at new, fun restaurants in each city I stop in.  This is a great way to explore the city and new foods at the same time. But, it can also be very, very dangerous for your waistline. When you’re out of town on business, you have no choice but eat outside the home. Hopefully, you have good luck in your restaurant choices, but sometimes you’re at the mercy of airport food and ya all know how I feel about that!! Plus, it is very easy to overeat while on business. Most business events are centered around food and drinks and plenty of both! If you don’t pace yourself or know when to stop eating, you’re likely to put on a few pounds by the end of your trip – and all for the sake of your job!

10 Strategies for Healthy Eating During Business Travel

In all of my years of traveling for business and eating at many, many business lunches and dinners, I’ve developed a few strategies that help me eat less and make better choices about what I eat. Although I do not follow these tips religiously, I find that they’ve become almost second nature when order food at restaurants.

  1. Eat an appetizer or small plate – Before ordering, I peruse the appetizer or small plates section. If there’s something tasty in that section, I’ll order one or two smaller dishes as a main meal. And, because they are served more like appetizers (bite size/finger foods), I usually end up sharing them with the table, which means I eat even less.
  2. Order a salad or soup to start – If I am really hungry when I sit down to eat, I’ll order a small, simple salad with a vinegar dressing or a minestrone/broth soup. I find that this takes the edge off of my hunger and prevents me from eating the whole bread basket (although I have done that in the past – ouch!)
  3. Beware the bottomless bread basket – As I mentioned in #2, I have been known to eat more than my share of bread or tortilla chips. This would usually leave me too full to eat a significant portion of my entree. This may sound like I’m balancing calories, but it’s definitely not balancing nutrition. It’s much better nutrition-wise to eat your entree (provided it’s a healthy one) than eating 7 pieces of bread.
  4. Limit alcohol or other calorie-laden drinks – I don’t drink a lot of alcohol to begin with but when I do, I limit my intake to 1 or 2 drinks max. I would much rather save my calories for dessert and sip on ice cold water or a calorie free drink with my meal.
  5. Split an entree – On a business trip, splitting a meal can be difficult. Although, in the last year, I have done this a few times with close colleagues. Even my boss – a man – has been known to split restaurant food – but it’s usually dessert!
  6. Pretend you’re at home – Before you order and especially before you eat, think What would I eat if I was at home? or How much would I eat if I was at home? For instance, would you really eat a pound of spaghetti bolognese after eating calamari and a salad? Maybe, maybe not. At home, would you really make yourself a greasy egg McMuffin-like breakfast sandwich? Probably not, so why would you order it at the airport? Even the worst airports have yogurt, fruit, and cereal.
  7. Plan your calories – If I know that my colleagues and I are going out to a big, fancy dinner with drinks, I’ll eat a bigger breakfast – like yogurt with nuts, fruit, and maybe some toast. Then, I eat lighter at lunch – a cup of soup or a 1/2 sandwich. This leaves plenty of room and calorie cushion for dinner on the town. 
  8. Don’t follow the table – Just because everyone else is ordering multiple drinks, appetizers, and a filet with a baked potato does not mean I have to. I’d much rather feel good about what I’m eating (and not feel bloated/stuffed) than feel like I have to match my colleagues’ ordering and eating habits.
  9. Excuse yourself – By getting up during the meal, your body has time to adjust to the food you’ve eaten and decide if it still needs to eat more. Also, if I’m out to eat with a big group and am tempted by the food a the table, I will excuse myself once or twice to go to the bathroom or to make a phone call. This gives the food on the table enough time to disappear. This could also work during dessert – when the server comes around to take dessert orders, quietly tell the person next to you that you need to make a quick call and that you don’t need anything for dessert. While everyone else is pressuring his/her neighbor to order a dessert (because who really wants to be the only one ordering a dessert?), you will be away from the table and the peer pressure.
  10. Remember, it’s not your last meal – Even if you do end up ordering more food than you’d normally eat at one sitting, it does NOT mean that you have to eat it all. This is not your last meal so don’t act like it by stuffing yourself.

These strategies don’t just work for business trips, but for eating at restaurants in general. I hope to put all (or at least some!) of these strategies into practice during our upcoming trip to Disney World. Wish me luck!

Happy, Healthy Travels Everyone!

An Unexpected Work-at-Home Day

Hey All!

I worked at home today – with the kids! I hadn’t planned on working at home at all and especially not with the kids. But, when push comes to shove, I do what I have to do.

Before Scott left to teach a class, I hopped on the treadmill for about 45 minutes. We have a separate heating system (electric heat) in our basement where the treadmill is. For some reason it is super hot down there every morning. So, I’m usually a sweaty mess by the time I come upstairs.

Breakfast was 1/2 a carton of TJ’s vanilla Greek yogurt, with a teaspoon of all-natural peanut butter and a few walnuts…

I also had the last of the OJ, which was seriously like 2 ounces!!! Why even bother leaving 2 ounces of juice in the carton? I just don’t understand it.

Lunch happened to be leftover homemade fried chicken from Saturday night…

I had two small pieces, although I could have easily eaten more. I paired the chicken with some steamed baby carrots and about a cup of Trader Joe’s shells and white cheddar..

Let me tell you, it is REALLY hard to work at home with the kids! At their ages, they demand all of my attention – which is not a bad thing except when I need to work. Fortunately, they both take naps and can be calmed by a Disney show (desperate times call for desperate measures).

While the kids napped then watched a Disney show, I was heads down in a project for work. Between working a little before getting on the treadmill, and working in the afternoon, I was able to finish my project and put in about 3.5 hours at home. Whew – what a day! I was so busy – and HANGRY – that I just had to have a snack – 2 small homemade chocolate chip cookies and a 1/2 cup skim milk. Plus, right before dinner, I was starving and couldn’t wait. Had a small, snack pack of Sunchips too – blah! Oh well, still under 1,600 calories for the day.

In all of my craziness today, I actually found the time to make dinner…

I tried a new Giada recipe for creamy orzo (at least it was new to me). Minus the peas, I thought this dish was really good, although I had to add a bunch of salt and pepper for taste. I’m glad I quartered the recipe because Scott and my son did not like this AT ALL! That’s ok though – Giada will never know. The kids and I also split a turkey burger which is the reason why it looks so small in the picture!!

Now, I have about 200 calories that I could still eat to get to my 1,600 calories a day – I’m thinking a small brownie and a little Breyer’s vanilla – what do ya think? 😉

Restaurant Diet Update

So today, it has been officially 4 weeks since we started our Restaurant Diet, vowing not to spend any of our own money on food outside of the house. So how did we do? We did fantastic!! By having gift cards from Christmas at our disposal, we were able to get our fix of eating out without spending money. So, for the most part, we really weren’t tempted to stray.

That is, until yesterday. That’s right, we decided to end the diet one day early. We contemplated going to Panera for lunch and using the last of our meal gift cards. But Panera just didn’t sound good. So, we opted for the Italian cafe near our house. Kids eat free on Sunday and we actually had a free meal to boot. So, we spent about $14 to feed 2 adults and 2 children – about $3.50 a person. Not bad!

So how much money did we save? Well, we were regularly going out to eat 2-3 times a week with the kids – blowing about $75. Then, between Starbucks, Barnes and Noble cafe, and going out to lunch, Scott and I easily spent another $25 a week, if not more, between the two of us. Overall, we probably saved about $400 by on the Restaurant Diet, which is well worth the effort!

Gotta get to bed. See you all tomorrow!