Tag Archives: healthy eating

Starting a food prep/cook day with a chronic illness

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Recently I was in a discussion about how I handle food prep and cook day to ensure I continue to eat healthy. It is so hard to function by the end of the day that it is easy to just order take out night after night or to skip eating all together. When my pain level rises I rarely am hungry. Having this day is not easy and it is an all day thing. Don’t expect to function much afterwards. Do expect a rise in your pain levels the first couple times you do it. I promise the more you do it, the more you put good healthy REAL food in you the better you will feel.
I think the best way to start is to go super easy. Lets start with Overnight oats for breakfast , egg and veggie muffins for snacking, Mason Jar salads, and what I call freezer meals. You are going to need a lot of mason jars for this but its the easiest thing to use and for some reason, the salads stay good for over five days in them. Not sure why. Probably some weird science thing.

Breakfast food grocery list

 

14 Mason jars with lids  1 large tub of Greek yogurt( ideally this would be plain but you can get away with vanilla) 1 pint blueberries and I think Blackberries are in season so 1 container of those 2 slightly under-ripe bananas Sliced almonds chia seeds Ground flaxseed Fat free milk(you can use any kind of milk , so almond milk coconut milk those are fine too) Old fashion oats Set out seven mason jars. In each mason jar pour 1/2 cup milk first, then add 1/3 cup greek yogurt, 1/3 cup oats, 2 tablespoons chia, 2 tablespoons flaxseed 1/2 cup fruit( you can mix or just do one fruit in each jar) I like blueberry banana . Bananas need to be sliced. 1/4 cup sliced almonds. Shake and put in fridge.

Snack Grocery list

1 dozen eggs

1 bag chopped kale

1 bag sliced mushrooms

Ground turmeric

ground ginger are a great boosting option to this, add to your taste.

Mix all in a bowl. Grease a muffin tin and pour mix in. Bake at 350 for twenty minutes. When done set aside let cool.  Two “muffins” can go in each zip-lock bag. A really smart friend then put her individual snack bags into a large zip-lock bag so they don’t all get lost and spread over the refrigerator

Lunch Grocery list

1 can chickpeas

1 can salmon or tuna

1 package Deli chicken strips

1 head of romaine

1 bag spinach

2 containers feta

sliced carrot sticks( like the little matchstick ones)

4 cucumbers diced bell peppers ( our store has them diced but sometimes i have to slice and dice them too)

Salad dressings of choice

Line up seven mason jars. In the bottom you are going to put your salad dressing. It is recommended to keep this to no more than two tablespoons Then comes your hard veggies, Carrot sticks, peppers, diced cucumbers(each salad should get roughly half a cucumber) Then comes the chickpeas, This is also where you add a meat choice here to mix it up or even some can tuna or salmon. I personally like the salmon. Then you can rotate Romaine and spinach add the feta last.

The snack eggs should be done by this time. Just set aside to cool.

Dinner freezer meals;If you prefer to use a toaster oven and avoid the microwave you are going to need small glass entree size containers. Otherwise glad or zip-lock entree containers are fine.

Dinner Shopping list

2 pounds chicken

1 pound fish

1 bag quinoa

1 container chicken broth(the less sodium more organic ones are the best option)

1 bag parsnips

about a pound of green beans

Sugar snap peas

1 head broccoli

1 bunch beets.

The easiest way I have found to cook this is on a cookie sheet wrap it in tin foil. Then wrap chicken with whatever seasonings you want in tinfoil. I set the chicken in the middle of a square of tinfoil then fold up and close it up. I typically just use garlic rosemary and lemon zest. Sometimes adding Turmeric as well. You can season each chicken breast seperately if you so choose. They will be cooking in tinfoil in their own juices. Repeat with fish of choice, my family will eat tilapia the easiest so that is what we use but you can use any white fish. Typically I just cook it with lemon and we top with parmesean . Slice the cauliflower and our favorite is to coat in coconut oil add some sea salt and some dill seed and thyme. Wrap it in tinfoil same as chicken folding it up. Slice the beets and add a tablespoon of oil of your choice really Wrap those in tinfoil the same way. Parsnips you can peel if you so desire we don’t normally. Same thing with tinfoil normally i just roll them in about two teaspoons of oil and sprinke sea salt on top. All this goes on baking sheet that was wrapped in tinfoil. Goes in the oven for an hour at 350. The tinfoil helps it all cook evenly and makes it so much easier to clean up after. Set four pots on the stove. Cook enough quinoa in the chicken broth for seven servings in pot one. In pot two go the green beans , pot three sugar snap peas and pot four broccoli. The veggies in the pot you are going to slightly undercook. When the meat and veggies are done in the oven take out and put on table. Well I put it on the table. Then put the pots next to it. Line up your seven entree dishes(gladware or glass) and put about 1/4 cup quinoa two veggie choices and a meat. Put top on and toss in freezer.

 

I only know how long it takes to thaw and heat in the microwave. If you can remember to take one out of the freezer in the morning and put it in the refrigerator that makes heat up time about five minutes. If you have it in the freezers no worries its about eight minutes. Of course this all depends on your microwave.

The first two times you may want to ask a friend to help you. Then you kinda find your rythm or groove or whatever and it goes faster; None of this is set in stone. Change up veggies for dinners as seasons change, same for fruits in overnight oats. There are tons and tons and tons of overnight oats and mason jar salads on Pinterest. The freezer meals I came up with several months back for my husband so he could have real food when he worked nights. Like I said with the salads they last up to ten days so you can easily do this for two weeks if that makes it easier.

DO plan for this to be a full days project.

It typically takes me from eight thirty am to about two thirty pm to complete and I normally am only capable of resting after that. I am pretty much spent for the day.

Then you can start exploring make ahead crock pot meals that you can freeze. So easy.with the same premise only these everything goes in prepped but not cooked in zip-lock freezer bags freeze it and then the same though of defrosting in fridge then dump the bag in crock pot. This would make it more family friendly. There are so many crock pot recipes on Pinterest I find it hard to believe you can’t make two weeks worth of food without someone getting bored of crock pot.

I did this entire thing for a friend of mine who also has fibro and she noticed a dramatic difference in less than a week.

Research the recipes you want to use and plan it out. I would recommend planning it on a different day than actually doing it. My brain can’t handle that much with chronic pain also going on.

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Cereal Hack Trick

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The kid kept asking for Honeysmacks. I know they are yummy but they are full of everything I don’t want her having, including a ridiculous amount of sugar. I didn’t set out to make this but it just kind of happened, as in we ran out of cereals that we liked. I had grabbed this puffed wheat as it was on sale, and it had no corn in it. Since I am corn intolerant that is always top on my mind.  I looked at it in our bowls and thought …hmmm..it probably does need just a tad sweetness.  I literally put like five circles around the bowl of honey. We use local raw unfiltered honey. I stirred the cereal first as I remembered just in time if I poured cold milk the honey would harden and not spread. So Stir honey and cereal. Then add milk. We could not believe how yummy it was. It really does taste like honeysmacks and it has a lot less sugar. SCORE!

What Chronic illness has taught me.

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Trying to see the good in every situation is hard. It is not something that comes easy to me.

I am trying to change that. To find a happy medium between Eeyore/Piglet and Tigger/Pooh.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what I can and can’t do. I have been thinking about how much I have changed.

Some things I have learned along the way……these are not in order of importance. They are all important.

1. Its okay not to  be okay.

We so often don’t feel well we almost get to the point we feel guilty about it. Or like me you DO feel guilty about it. I am sorry I don’t feel good. I am sorry I am not up to that.  STOP IT. Its a chronic illness. It’s not going away. Start NOW telling people. I am sorry I can’t do that could we do this instead? Chronic illness often brings depression. Because our illness is not going away, depression is always a threat. People either need to understand that or leave. It sounds harsh but it is what it is. 

2.  Self care is really important.

We are the Mom’s. We are the wife. We are the homemaker. We are constantly worrying about someone else. You can NOT take care of everyone else if you are not taking care of yourself. Take time to center yourself daily. DAILY. Schedule it if you have to! It’s that important. Taking time for you can feel like something you should feel guilty for. DON’T. Without it you will crash and burn. Trust me I know.  I have crashed and burned , I have had nothing left to give to take care of others.

3. Let go of guilt. Change it now and move on.

Once you realize that something is wrong. Let the guilt part go. Let it go. Now you know and you can change it. DO it. Change it.  The hard part is not beating yourself up. I tend to allow myself a little beating up. Then straighten up and change.  I am good at denial. Once it really gets through the fog or someone points it out. Sometimes we need a push. That’s okay. I used to surround myself with people who knew the problem but refused to do something about it. To quote a famous woman…Ain’t nobody got time for that.

4. Speak up for yourself at the doctors office, at the disability office, at the psychologist office.

Wanna know a good place to start? Ask for your records and read what the Doctor has written. You won’t get their personal notes but what is typed up.  They are not perfect. A lot of our symptoms are hard to understand. Keep a journal. Keep notes. Bring them to the appointment. Clarify what should be side effects and what are symptoms. If its not working for you. GO BACK. The only way any progress is going to be made is through good communication. I have been told its hard to believe I have anxiety because I discuss it so openly. I want help, I know I only got so much time. I wrote down what was bothering me in order of how much it was bothering me.  When I want the help, I go out of my way to make sure I get it. When I know I need the help but am not convinced or am not ready to ask for the help, I can be pretty vague. I am lucky I have a few friends that don’t take vague answers.

     That being said, sometimes it is easier or even better to bring a friend who can speak up for you, or bring things up. Sometimes you need an advocate who knows what you want and what you need and is willing to do that for you. I have to say I have someone who will do this. She told me in no uncertain terms that next time I go to the ER with me because she can’t stand the anxiety me even being there gave her. So for her anxiety she is going and she is was not happy about the end results of the ER. You think cops can give the third degree….They don’t have anything  on her.

5. Don’t wait.

If you want to do something, do it. If you have a passion, pursue it. Like photography, make it work for you. Like writing, start a journal or a blog. Don’t wait for it. Later I will be able to do it. Later I will have time. NO make time for it now. It seems trite but its true, don’t put off what you can do today. Make your life what you want it. Don’t let Chronic illness/pain tell you what your life has to be. The more I do what I love, walk, read , photograph, write, the better I feel. The more equipped to deal with my symptoms I am.

6. Search for enjoyment

This kinda ties in with number five. Don’t wait for enjoyment. Don’t expect it to come to you. Don’t say I will do that when I feel better. DO it now. Search for what makes you happy and then work at incorporating it into your life as much as possible. Be willing to try new things in the name of searching for enjoyment. I don’t know if I will like that. TRY it once. Think about it, think about  what you did like, what you didn’t like. Think about it. If it didn’t quite work but you liked it,think about how you can adapt it.  

7. Breathe

Deep Breathing is so incredibly helpful. Look up some exercises. Start small, but start. Expect lightheadedness at first. Oxygen is so helpful and  with how much we lay down sometimes we forget to take some deep breathes. 

8.  Slow down

Schedule down time. Plan it so it happens.  Sometimes I have to rest in between each activity. Sometimes its after all the things I needed to get done that day were done. It helps. It really really helps. Sometimes I alternate twenty minutes doing an activity, folding laundry, Twenty minutes resting. This is something I am not good at. Pacing. I know its important.  I just can’t always make it happen.

9. Eat like you mean it.

If you don’t feel good and you are constantly eating junk food there is most likely a connection. I know its hard when you feel crappy to eat healthy. Some days it is not easy to eat healthy. Sometimes I give in. I eat only what I actually feel like eating.  I say it often enough, my vice is mountain dew. Try and tell me what is actually in it….I will stick my fingers in my ears and scream LALALALALALALALALALALLALALLALLALA.  Try just starting with fresh fruit or vegetables. Like with everything start small, small steps tend to lead to success with chronic illness/pain people. We like small steps, there is less pain in small steps. If you haven’t been eating healthy expect your stomach to not be happy. After your stomach gets used to healthy foods, your brain will revolt. We NEED DONUTS. We NEED donuts and mountain dew. WE NEED IT!  Sometimes I can find a fruit to quench the sweet tooth. 

10.  Hydrate hydrate hydrate hydrate

Water. Water and more water. Water is so important. Get the flavor drops, Drink four oz at a time that you can toss back like a shot.  There is so much water can do to help. It will amaze you.  It is true switch out one soda with a glass of water a day. Drink a whole  glass of water with your pills.  Drink water and then drink some more.  If you are worried about drinking too much water work some gatorade in. A glass or two to help but honestly us chronically sick people take a lot of meds. Our organs like it when we give them a lot of water with our medications. Our brains love it when we drink water. To be in TMI territory…..drink enough water that your pee is almost clear. Truthfully if I am not feeling right, I try to remember to see how clear or dark my urine is. It makes a difference. Our body is made up so much of water, it has to get that water from somewhere. 

Nothing earth shattering here. At least I hope its not. However sometimes we just need that gentle reminder. I am not an expert at any of this. Its all trial and error. Hopefully we help each other along the way on our chronic illness journey.