March 9, 2010

Experiment in Variance Eating

As I've said before, one of my biggest issues in dieting is the fact I slowed my metabolism to a crawl during my first pregnancy through poor nutrition decisions, and it's just now starting to pick back up. I could go through the laundry list of everything I've tried to get it back to normal, but that'd keep us here half the day. Suffice it to say the only things that have had any impact at all were resistance training and finally getting a bit of uninterrupted sleep.

I've heard this theory that in order to keep your metabolism running at it's peak, you need to keep your system guessing as it were. Our bodies are programed to run to its best advantage no matter if we're living through feast or famine, so it will speed and slow based on how we are eating. Yet, it requires a day or two to switch gears. The idea is that if you change up your diet every two to three days, your body will not have time to slow your metabolism before you crank up the calories just enough to make it say, "Never mind."

Makes sense right? I'm not expecting miracles or anything, but I figured why not give it a shot? Cutting back on the more calorie dense foods like lean meats, pastas, and breads four or five days out of the week can't hurt, and the girls don't care much for meat anyway. We'll see how it goes.

I thought I'd mimic the diets of our ancestors for a while, if perhaps giving it a modern twist in the way of preparation. Before the industrial revolution meat wasn't on the menu all that often for a lot of our forefathers because of its expense. It's not exactly cheap today, but comparatively speaking, it's at least affordable. If you look at the common man's diet from before the 1800s, and even after, you'll find mostly grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, milk products, and eggs with meat included just every now and then.

This gives an opportunity for our family to not only save a few dollars on our grocery bill each week cutting back on the amount of meat purchased, but it forces us to include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into our diet. Plus it opens the door for trying recipes we've never tried before and discussions regarding the history of our family and other cultures outside our own heritage as we try new dishes. If they're going to ask, what's for dinner half a dozen times, why not give them some new information every time the question comes around again?

So what does today's menu plan look like? Breakfast was plain yogurt flavored with vanilla and cinnamon with an apple and a nectarine with a slice of whole grain toast. Lunch was a big spinach salad served with a slice of whole grain bread with two ounces of pepper jack cheese melted on top. (What do you know, two servings of fruit, three servings of dairy, and two servings of vegetables already!) Dinner will be steamed sweet peas and carrots tossed with garlic and basil and oven roasted potato wedges with the skin on and served with a vinaigrette for dipping.

For those of you with picky eaters out there, it's amazing how much dipping "yucky" foods in anything magically makes them delicious. A half cup of cheesy grits to use as a dip got the girls to take that first taste of broccoli, and now they could eat their weight in it, even without the grits, if we'd let them.

Tomorrow's another vegetarian day. I'll bake some chicken Thursday, and then Friday and Saturday will be vegetarian days as well. We'll see how variance eating works for our family, and I'll let you know.

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