Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Love Lunch

Over the weekend, in the midst of my feeling rather puny, I posted a video of Improv Everywhere's "I Love Lunch." If you missed it (and a fantastic t-shirt stop motion video), check it out here. I do, in fact, love lunch. And I especially love lunch during the work week. And while my lunch hour used to mean eating out or running errands, I love that I am getting back into the habit of my lunch hour being used at the gym and then I eat something quick and easy at my desk after my workout. I'm getting hooked on frozen meals. I used to think they were crap- and I think there's a good chance of still finding crap out there. But I've had some rather tasty meals lately. And when I go to read the labels- expecting the bad news, the down side- I end up pleasantly surprised! Here's my normal workday eating routine: Get to work and get a cup of coffee with creamer (the sweetened bad for you kind). About an hour later, make oatmeal. Most days, I admit to making 2 packets. Most days, that holds me just fine until after my workout. I am working on cutting back to one packet. I sweeten my oatmeal with Trader Joe's Maple Agave Syrup (awesome great stuff). I'll get to lunch in a sec. Dinner is whatever gets thrown together at home. This past weekend, I did pretty well in the dinner department. Saturday, even though I was sick, I made meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Sunday, still sick but feeling better, I made meatballs (they were a chicken teriyaki meatball with pineapple in them- Teagan and I sampled them at the grocery store and she lvoed them so I immediately bought them for dinner and her love affair remained in tact- she and Zach both ate them up) and oven baked potato chips (potatoes sliced on the mandolin slicer, cookie sheet schmeared with olive oil, layer potato slices, grind on some salt- I've been using a lower sodium pink crystal salt from Trader Joe's- and back at 400 for 10-12 minutes; turn and then bake 10 minutes at 500). But lunch... I don't bring leftovers. I don't pack a lunch like a sandwich and an apple and yogurt. Instead, I've gotten hooked on Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice meals. They go on sale regularly so I eat for about $2 or less each meal. And both of these companies have been working to make meals that are healthier. The big issue with frozen food, generally, is the sodium. But both of these companies seem to be making efforts and strides to improve on that front. Monday, I had the Healthy Choice Lemon Pepper Fish Complete Meal. Breaded white fish on a bed of rice pilaf, broccoli florets, and caramel apple crisp give this high-fiber meal a distinct taste. 310 calories. 4.5 g fat. 440 mg sodium (which is 18% of the RDV). 13 g of protein. 50% Vit C. 5 g fiber.And it was good. The broccoli was perfect. The apples were crisp. The fish wasn't overly fishy. The rice pilaf had some wild rice in it. The only thing I added was some Sriracha Sauce... yum!
The best thing about that Healthy Choice meal? I felt full and satiated after eating it. I wasn't craving something more. I didn't eat 3 bites and then it was gone and I was left wanting more. It was a good size portion with plenty of savory and sweet.
Over the weekend, I ate a couple of Lean Cuisines at home. Their Spa line is pretty tasty. Christy and I both had the Lemongrass Chicken last week- it was better than expected and really quite good. Again- the sodium, at 550 mg, is the thing to watch. But 260 calories, 6 g of fat, 5 g fiber, and 19 g of protein? Not bad. Add in a yogurt (Stoneyfield Farms) so I satisfy my sweet tooth and I'm a happy camper!
It's hard to eat fresh, healthy meals at work. It's hard to balance working through lunch, hitting the gym, running errands and find the energy and motivation to have a healthy and satisfying meal that doesn't leave me craving chocolate or chips within a couple of hours.
And I have to admit that I am very tempted by knowing that the calorie intake on these meals is so much less than a meal I would normally eat if I grabbed a bite out. For the sake of comparison- let's say I order in my favorite Jimmy John's sandwich. The #4- Turkey Tom. Turkey, sprouts, tomato, lettuce, mayo. On that yummy JJ's bread. For just that sandwich- no pickle, no chips, no fruit, no sides- that's 515 calories!! 1,094 mg of sodium! Yikes! Take off the mayo (gulp) and calories drop to 322 and sodium drops to 920 mg (still a big ouch). I'm scared to go and look at the fast food meals I like to enjoy from time to time.
So here's my inspiration... I don't have a set goal to lose weight. I want to be healthier and make healthier eating choices. If I pay attention and stay smart about my meals and my snacks... just making this change to my lunch time routine could seriously have a major impact on my calorie intake and, hence, that whole "calories in, calories out" thing seems to be a lot more important.
I'm doing it! I'm exercising more regularly. I'm making better food choices. I still have a lot of weaknesses and I still have a lot of bad habits (let's not talk about ice cream or french onion dip, ok?). But I am making changes and I feel really, really good about it!
Ironically, I learned a lot a couple of weeks ago from the Fit City Twitter chat about staying motivated to exercise during the winter months- or even just in general. Tonight, there is another Fit City Indy Twitter chat. And this time- the focus is on food! I will definitely be tuning in and I hope you'll come and check it out and even participate, too!
Participate in the next Indy Fit Chat on Feb. 23. Starting at 6:30 p.m. EST, FitCity’s guest Annessa Chumbley (@Flourish_Girl) will give her Grocery Survival Strategies. Find out how you can get the healthiest trip through your local grocery and ask questions about portion control, food labels and more. Search #indyfitchat on Twitter or follow @fitcityindy to be a part of the conversation on Tuesday, Feb. 23.


Shannon said...

I have been stalling over getting into a formal weight loss program or not. I've done Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig... I'd prefer Jenny craig but most of their meals are for the microwave... I deliberately chose not to have a microwave when I was moved out. Kida leaves Weight Watchers :P

Amy said...

I've been pretty happy with the frozen options for healthy meals. I usually add a piece of fruit or yogurt and I'm satisfied. Hope to be in on the Fit City Twitter chat as well.

KPCL Girl said...

Is this an info-mercial???

Eternal Lizdom said...

@KPCL Yes. I was paid $1 million by Improv Everywhere, another mil by Healthy Choice, another mil by Lean Cuisine and anothe rmil by Fit City. I'm giving up blogging and Jeff and the kids and I are running away from Indiana to start our own commune in Montana.

@Amy Last time I was really hitting frozen meals, it was really hit or miss if they'd be good or not. i've been pretty happy this time around.

@Shannon I've toyed with the Weight Watchers idea. They are actually going to have a WW group at work- with discounts for joining through the corporate program and attending meetings at work. But I'm not ready to commit the money or the time at this point. I do think it's cool that my company, 3M, is so in tune with providing healthy support options- my Fit City blog talks about that, too.

Cha-ching! Now I get 1 mil from 3M! Bwahahaha! My blogging dreams are coming true!

mimbles said...

My lunch today was Turkish bread with ham, brie and cranberry sauce and a red Thai curry cuppa-soup. I usually make sandwiches to take to work 'cause the kids have to have lunches made so the stuff is all there waiting to be used.

Unknown said...

I have been struggling with food lately. Really, really struggling. Thank you for sharing what works for you. Great advice.

Garret said...

Great post Liz. It's nice to see a list of what you take in and about the smart choices you made. Congrats! Next try meatloaf with turkey!

Eternal Lizdom said...

@Garret I would totally do turkey meatloaf bu I think that might be one of Jeff's deal breakers... ;)

@Kaishon I feel you. Big time. Even when I'm making healthy choices, it's not a full time thing. I just do my best. I slip, I mess up, I eat crap. But I take pride when I do make a good choice in what I put in my body!

@Mim If you weren't so far away, I'd ask you to come and make lunch for me!

Nancy C said...

I think that anything that gives you a set number of calories is a good thing. My downfall has always been snacking, and I found that almonds REALLY helped keep me together until dinnertime.

Eternal Lizdom said...

@Nancy Snacking is one of the next things I need to tackle. It's a HUGE downfall for me.

Alison said...

I just went back and watched both of those videos--great stuff!! Reminds me of my improv days in college.

I'm happy to see the frozen food makers are getting a handle on the sodium there. I might re-look into those as alternatives when I haven't got anything to pack. It's so incredibly difficult to get a fast, hot, affordable meal with VEGETABLES when you go out for lunch.

That JJ's sammich sure sounds good, though... :)

Oh, and get this: our corporate HR has just informed us that we are not allowed to use our lunch break for something else, then eat lunch at our desk. So much for hitting the gym then (not that I planned to, but still...isn't that a new American tradition???)

Eternal Lizdom said...

@Flartus That new policy would TICK ME OFF. I think it would cause a serious revolt in our workplace. Most of my co-workers eat breakfast at their desks. I eat oatmeal each morning at my desk. I sometimes work through my lunch hour and eat lunch at my desk then. What the heck difference does it make?? Sheesh... I would be really, really irate and LOUD about it.

hoteltuesday said...

For some reason, I believe every single thing I read if it says "Doctors say" or "scientists say" in front of it! And I heard on the news one day that some scientists/doctors said frozen meals have so many preservatives in them that they are some of the most unhealthy things you can eat. I haven't eaten one since!