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Saturday, February 2, 2013

How to Eat a Healthy Gfree Diet in College

So, I'm not one to make or keep up with New Years Resolutions, but if there's one thing that I want to do this year is to start taking control of my diet (contrary to the above cartoon). And what I mean by this is trying to eat healthier in the face of an increasingly unhealthy world.

Now we all know that eating a gluten free diet is a tough thing to do, especially when you're brand new at it.

But, if you're anything like me and you've been on your gfree diet for a while, but it's starting to creepily look like the unhealthy junk food diet you once had when you were eating wheat... I think there may be a problem.

Even tougher for me is the fact that I'm still in college and unhealthy food choices are EVERYWHERE. You just can't escape it in a college town like Berkeley, especially when you've finished with a long day of classes, volunteering, work and studying and you just want to have a quick meal. What are you going to do?

Well, what most college students do. Buy takeout and eat it on the go.

Luckily for me, I try to limit my time eating out because,
1) It's expensive and
2) It's unhealthy

Although I can successfully check off on my to-do list, "Only eat out once a week", with relative ease, I unfortunately cannot say the same about my diet when I cook in my apartment.

If I were to open my fridge or freezer right now, I'll most likely see lots of carbs. And by lots, I mean a chalk full amount.

Well, carbs aren't bad by any means. But, a diet mostly on carbs and limited fats and protein? Mmhmm... not so balanced I might say.

It's difficult because many of my go-to breakfast foods are waffles, bagels, sliced bread and cereal and lunch consists of pasta and some meat and veggies and dinner, well if I don't wolf down all of lunch, I can maybe salvage some leftovers for dinner.

Well, no more!

I really want to put in a honest effort, at least for this semester, to try to convert many of the foods I'm eating into healthier alternatives and if you're anything like me, I encourage you to do the same.

Besides, it's about time we treat our bodies right with good nutritiously dense foods to help you gain/lose the amount of weight you want, feel better, and have a positive attitude towards everyday life. Believe in the incredible power of food! :)

Here's how I plan to change things:

1) Don't eat straight carbs- throw in some healthy proteins and fats for a well- rounded diet. 
So I was in lecture today for one of my upper division nutrition classes, and the topic of a fruitarian diet came up. And as you would have guessed, it's a diet based on fruit, and fruit alone. I love fruit, but does it make sense to only eat fruits, all day everyday? Please, for your own sake, don't do it. I've heard of people's bones becoming so brittle because of the lack of calcium on this diet that a small impact will instantly crush their bones. If that doesn't scare the crap out of you, I don't know what will! ANYWAY, that was a tangent. But it's relevant to what I want to advise you on.

Never follow those ridiculous fad diets- they never work and you only lose water weight and lean muscle tissue. Both are bad, trust me. Learn how to look at your own diet and make changes that you know intuitively and instinctively are good for you. For example...

If you're eating a piece of toast or waffles: Don't eat it plain. That little piece of bread/waffle is gonna flush right out leaving you hungry in less than a hour. Put some healthy nut butter (peanut butter) that has low sugar and no added jams. That means bye bye Skippy. Go for all natural and organic. A good rule of thumb is that the lesser the ingredients, the better off you are. Fry an egg and if adventurous, throw in some bacon or sausage to give you enough energy to power through to lunch.

If you're eating cereal: Throw in some fresh fruit, like a banana, to compliment the meal and milk. Try and drink low fat or non-fat milk or other low fat milk alternatives (soy, rice, almond- check the sugar levels!) if you're trying to maintain your weight and regular milk if you're trying to gain weight. Bananas are especially packed with Potassium and other great nutrients that will stimulate and keep your brain active. Perfect for staying awake in that 2 hour lecture...

If you're eating pasta: Pasta is the staple food for most college kids. Even for me! I couldn't go a day without having my beloved Trader Joe's corn pasta (which is amazingly affordable!!). But, if you're going to have pasta, make sure to throw in plenty of good stuff like protein/fat (ground meat or chicken) and veggies or if you're vegetarian/vegan, make sure to put in lots of vegetables and other protein sources that will get you full!

2) Skip the gfree junk food
 I'm guessing in an attempt to make gfreers everywhere not feel so miserable about the fact that they can no longer eat a bag of Sun Chips or a Krispie cream donut, a plethora of gfree food companies have started to mass produce unhealthy gfree alternatives. So the whole thing about how gfree diets are  totally healthy? Well, maybe not.

I know for a fact that there are now gfree cookies, pastries, cakes, cupcakes etc that are designed to make even the most religious gfree eater take a second glance. These new foods, just because they are marked as gluten free, does NOT give you any excuse to eat them. They are still unhealthy. Do yourself a favor (and I say this to myself as well), don't eat unhealthy junk food even if you can eat it without harming yourself in the short run. In the long run, all these sugary, high caloric junk foods that are gluten free can also land you in the hospital for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a whole world of fun stuff.

My suggestion is to, if you must snack, eat raw nuts (like almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios) to get a pack of energy and healthy fats. These little babies will give you a boost of energy and will keep you fuller, longer. If you're not a nuts person, eat fruit or "healthier" snack options like whole grain flax seed chips or tortilla chips with homemade guacamole. Yay, avocados!

3) Eat out only once a week, and try to make it healthy! 
So, you must be thinking...Kris is so evil as to say even on my day off I have to eat healthy. Can't I indulge for just one meal??? Well, I'm guilty of having some delicious fries or a huge platter of carnitas on my day off, so there's no reason why you shouldn't either. I mean, we have discretionary calories for a reason right?

In any case, who said that eating out had to be unhealthy? It's the choices you make that determine if your day off will be something you won't regret stuffing your face with. For myself, I have really no self control when I eat out, since I'm on an ongoing quest to gain weight. But for those who are on the gfree diet and would like to not gain some extra weight on your belly or thighs, you need to watch what you're eating all the time. No excuses.

I'm not putting myself off the hook either. Eating out and eating healthy are two things that can go together. You just gotta put in the effort.

Try for non-greasy types of foods as much as possible. Keep it light. Instead of eating a gfree pizza (delish I know), try for a salmon salad with vinaigrette instead. You get the healthy omega 6, greens and not a whole lots of calories from the light dressing. If you order a meat dish, don't just eat all the meat in one go! Eat half and eat more veggies and a moderate amount of grains- save the other half for leftovers.

Also, be wary of sauces! It's always better to go without sauce than with it when you're eating out. Salt and pepper is the way to go if you're counting calories and to be safe.

Skip desserts unless its fruit or low sugar yogurt (Plain greek yogurt is great too- just add some fresh fruit and honey and you're good to go)!

Don't drink soda (it's causing the obesity epidemic quite directly)- drink water or freshly squeezed juice (if you're trying to gain weight). Avoid adding additional sugars and creamers to coffee as much as possible (if you're counting calories, avoid the fraps even though they are heaven!) and limit sugary smoothies and boxed juices/vitamin water/gatorade... all that fun stuff.

You'll find that the more you practice eating healthy and changing some of your unhealthy choices into healthy ones that you'll feel much much better and carry out a healthier lifestyle even after you leave college.

And I hereby give the Kris and T seal of approval to have ONE special high calorie, sugary deliciously unhealthy dessert for a special occasion or to reward yourself for hard work for the week. Because I know as students, we would all appreciate some yummy ice cream from time to time without feeling too guilty.


This is great, guys! I recently found out I'm intolerant to wheat and it's been difficult trying to change my diet.