Health

Getting Back on Track Post-Honeymoon: Food Diaries

This food diarist is at a healthy weight—but is she choosing the best meals for her on-the-go lifestyle?
The diarist’s busy schedule doesn’t always leave time for healthy choices.

The Stats

Gender: Female
Age: 29
Height: Five-foot-two-and-a-half (can’t forget that half an inch!)
Weight: About 115
Location: Penn Quarter
Profession: Program manager for an educational business
Self-Described Activity Level: I like exercise classes and team sports. I’ve been going to the Bar Method four to five times a week since it opened in June. In the fall, spring, and summer I play soccer with District Sports once a week.

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Day One

8 AM: I recently returned from my amazing honeymoon in Thailand, which means I haven’t had time to go to the supermarket. I grab a Fiber One oats and chocolate bar for breakfast. I’m heading to Silver Spring today to run an event with sixth graders. Unfortunately, last night during the National Christmas Tree lighting, my throat started feeling really sore. It’s much worse this morning. I’m a big believer in mind over matter, so I head out to work anyway.
3:30 PM:
It was hectic making sure everything at the event went smoothly. I don’t have a chance to eat lunch until I arrive home in the late afternoon! When you come home starving with not many options, there’s only one choice: Pizza Bagel Bites. I’m not proud, but they really hit the spot.
8 PM: My husband and I are finally at our beloved Harris Teeter, buying supplies for dinner. Part of the reason I love Teeter is the samples, but we’re there so late there aren’t any available to snack on.
9 PM: We cook a London broil, with roasted red and Yukon Gold potatoes and grilled yellow zucchini squash as sides. I have a few glasses of wine with dinner (hey, it’s the weekend!), and then bake chocolate chip cookies for dessert. I only have one tiny little taste of the uncooked dough, I promise.

Day Two

9:30 AM: I have a full-blown cold when I wake up on Saturday—the kind with a sinus headache and the need for three tissue boxes per hour—so I can’t make it to my Bar Method class. I eat one of my favorite breakfasts—peanut butter on toast—and then dance around my apartment to Christmas carols while cleaning our bathroom and kitchen.
1 PM: I surprise my husband (still feels weird calling him that!) with tickets to a port tasting at Ceiba. We try 11 (yes, 11!) kinds of port, sherry, and Madeira; Ceiba provides a Latin buffet, as well. I have a small chicken enchilada, two legs of roast chicken with yellow rice, and salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
8 PM: For dinner, we meet up with a friend to try out the Michel Richard’s new Meatballs restaurant in Penn Quarter. I was so excited to try this place, but it is a huge disappointment! I have about ten bites total of my mushrooms with morel sauce and pasta. The three of us then go to E Street Cinema to check out The Other F Word, and I happily indulge in some fabulous popcorn. I eat about a quarter of the small bag.

See Also:

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Day Three

9 AM: I have peanut butter on a Van’s waffle with slices of banana on top for breakfast. I think I might have a serious peanut butter addiction. It’s Skippy Natural peanut butter. I’ve tried the real natural kind (the kind you have to stir), and it’s okay, but I just can’t give up my Skippy!
11 AM: The weekend of fun continues as we head out to FedEx Field for the Redskins vs. Jets game with some friends. We take the Metro, which means about a mile walk from the station to the stadium.
1 PM: At the stadium, I get a barbecue pork sandwich from Famous Dave’s, and forgo the fries (I don’t really love French fries). We also snuck some Twizzlers “Nibs” and peanut M&Ms into the stadium to share for dessert. Because I’m still feeling a bit sick, I don’t get a beer. Or maybe I’m just getting old?
7 PM: I make myself one of my favorite things for dinner: mac and cheese! I use the whole wheat rotini box from Velveeta and add peas to it. I eat a chocolate chip cookie for dessert.

Day Four

6 AM: I start off the morning with a Bar Method class. The hour-long classes are really intense and focus on strength training, isometrics, and flexibility. The best part is how great and energized I feel for the rest of day.
7:30 AM: After Bar Method, I have a bowl of Crispix cereal and almond milk for breakfast before heading out to work.
10 AM: I’m starving for lunch, but I manage to hold off and instead have a YoCrunch 100-calorie yogurt. It’s vanilla with little Oreo cookie crumbles to sprinkle in. Delicious!
11:30 AM: I can’t hold out any longer. I’ve packed a turkey-and-American-cheese sandwich for lunch. I always use Boar’s Head turkey with no salt, two slices of American cheese, and Arnold Sandwich Thins for my bread. As a side dish, I eat some veggie chips and Craisins. Since I’m still making my way through the cookies I baked on day one, I have one chocolate chip cookie for dessert.
3:30 PM: I’m feeling really hungry again, so I eat a banana with peanut butter for a snack. I’m starting to wonder if I eat too much peanut butter.
8 PM: Dinner time! After battling the annoying DC traffic, I’m ready for a good meal. My husband and I decide to make some pad thai for dinner. I make tofu. We took a Thai cooking class when we were on the honeymoon, but of course we wimp out and use a prepackaged box from Simply Asia. We add in some frozen vegetables and crush our own peanuts to sprinkle on top. I have a chocolate chip cookie for dessert (will this batch ever end?), and we settle in to catch up on some television we missed during our honeymoon.

Our Expert’s Advice

Ann Nothwehr, a certified nutrition support clinician at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, says:

Our diarist is at a healthy weight for her height, with her ideal range being approximately 102 to 124 pounds, and exercises at least five times a week, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Based on her gender, age, height, weight, and activity level, I calculated her daily needs to maintain her current weight as approximately 1,700 calories. These calories should be reasonably distributed among the three macronutrients: 10 to 35 percent protein, 20 to 35 percent fat, and 45 to 65 percent carbohydrates. Some of the micronutrients young American women should pay particular attention to are iron, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids (at least one good source of omega-3s daily is recommended), and fiber.

Making some assumptions about typical serving sizes, I estimate her calorie intake to be slightly below 1,700 calories on day one and significantly above 1,700 calories on days two through four—averaging about 2,500 calories. I recommend making some changes that will decrease the amount of fat in the diet, increase the protein, limit alcohol intake, and include more dairy, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats.

There is a general trend of eating lightly in the morning, then more—sometimes too much—later in the day. I suggest adding protein to the morning meal. In fact, this could be a good time to add one of the missing food groups that can provide significant protein: dairy. How about a yogurt with breakfast to get the 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 600 international units of vitamin D recommended for women? Adding an egg dish, a small serving of nuts (walnuts and almonds have the most researched health benefits), or a protein/meal replacement shake would be other protein options. Fruit would also boost her fiber intake as well as her vitamin levels, and, thus, her immune function.

On two of the four days, she delayed a meal due to work commitments. She should carry some snacks to avoid feeling starved and overeating later, such as a meal replacement bar, a package of nuts or trail mix, or a protein shake. The batch of fresh-baked cookies at home perpetuates a counterproductive habit of having so many empty sweet calories within easy reach.

As far as beverages, our diarist only mentions alcohol. She should be drinking about two liters of water, other low-calorie drinks, or milk daily. Increasing vegetable and fruit consumption can also contribute to adequate hydration. Days one and two included moderate to large amounts of alcohol. Just a few glasses of wine, in addition to raising the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and breast cancer, add up to significant empty calories. And the fortified wines such as port, sherry, and Madeira have more alcohol than red or white wines, and thus more calories—up to twice as many per serving. How about making wine spritzers with (no-calorie) club soda? For something nonalcoholic and low-calorie—but still fun!—try adding juice frozen into ice cubes or one to two pieces of vegetable, fruit, or herb (think cucumber, citrus fruits, strawberry, or mint) to regular or seltzer water.

Along with the fortified wines came a calorie-rich buffet (our diarist’s choices totaled close to 2,000 calories). Either decreasing the entrée portions or changing the high-fat, high-calorie chicken legs with skin to white meat without the skin would help. Increasing the salad portion would make up for a decreased meat portion. At the movies, I would recommend a diet soda rather than popcorn, which in most cases is popped with a large amount of oil.

The stadium excursion is another challenging environment; luckily, she passed on the fries and beer. On Monday, she did eat food from home, although the choices and their distribution throughout the day led to a high-calorie total. I would again increase the protein at breakfast, actually taking some protein and carbs both before and after the exercise class. This will provide her with energy, muscle recovery, and satiety all throughout the morning. For snacks, fresh vegetables and fruits instead of veggie chips and Craisins would provide more nutrients per calorie. The calories expended on peanuts and peanut butter could be redirected toward iron-rich beans including hummus or bean dip, green leafy vegetables for folic acid, and omega-3-rich fish—such as salmon and tuna—to help the immune system.

Our diarist is at a very healthy weight, and she has resources in place to allow her to get the exercise that she needs. She has a busy lifestyle that includes a variety of interesting social and work events; this comes complete with late lunches, culinary delights, and an unpredictable commute. Overall, it sounds like a lot of fun. There are some diet challenges in there, but they can be managed by planning ahead. I hope that my suggestions allow her to do so a little more nutritiously!

Are you brave enough to keep a food diary? E-mail us at wellbeing@washingtonian.com and tell us why you’d make a good one.

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