Changing Your Diet

Changing Your Diet

I am definitely no stranger to changing diets. If you have followed the blog, you’ll know that I experimented with vegetarianism and pescetarianism in middle school. For the past year or so, I’ve cut numerous foods out of my “diet” and substituted them with other foods–and it’s not as hard as you would think!

One thing I do not drink is dairy milk-I’m slightly lactose intolerant (my entire family on my mom’s side is lactose intolerant!) so during the summer, when I went on a backpacking trip with an organization,  I thought it would just be easier to tell them that I was dairy free. As a result, they packed me lots of dairy free cheese, and I found no difference from dairy cheese at all! A week after the backpacking trip, I decided to avoid dairy all together. I realized that it was very easy to substitute foods I could not eat for ones that I could. After all, I already didn’t drink dairy milk, so avoiding other forms of dairy was a natural next step. And my decision was also because the week following my trip, I had eaten 2-3 pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream all by myself. Although the ice cream was amazing, my body did not feel great afterwards (passing gas, feeling bloated, etc.). Avoiding ice cream was actually not as difficult as I had thought because I learned to substitute the dairy ice cream with vegan ones like So Delicious. Still, the vegan ice cream took a toll on my health, and after avoiding ice cream for a month, I found myself not even craving ice cream at all! Oh, what the power of avoidance can do!!

Another food-bagels. Now, I wasn’t as obsessed with bagels as I was with ice cream, but whenever there were bagels available, I would never pass up the opportunity. So, in the beginning of this year, I started to avoid bagels, subconsciously, after hearing about how bagels were the equivalent of 5 pieces of white bread because of the overwhelmingly high carbohydrate content (which results in high blood sugar levels). After months of not eating a bagel, I finally had half of an everything bagel during finals week, as a sort of reward. I remembered how much I used to love the savory taste of the everything bagels, and when I tried it…it was completely not what I remembered. The bagel didn’t taste exceptionally good or satisfying, it just filled me up. So, avoiding bagels made it not taste as appealing, and this experience furthered my avoidance of bagels.

A month ago, I became pescetarian (not eating meat except for fish) again, as a result of conversation with a friend whom I did not know was vegan. The result was similar to the bagel experiment. At first, it was a bit difficult to not be eating juicy, savory baked chicken wings, but as I went longer and longer without meat, when I tried a small piece for Thanksgiving, it was nothing special.

So in conclusion…

1.) Once I made those choices, I found that it was easier to eat healthy because I would avoid foods that were not “allowed” in that diet, and find healthy substitutes. For example, when I decided to reduce my dairy intake, I could not eat supermarket cookies, chocolate, or ice cream. But out of my desperation for those junk foods (especially the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream), I quickly found substitutes. I made healthy vegan cookies, chocolate bliss balls, and nice cream very frequently. It’s often difficult to make a big change in one’s diet because it feels restricting and depressing. However, I found that restricting myself helped me find better options for the unhealthy foods that I loved.

2.) After avoiding the unhealthy foods, I developed an indifference towards their tastes, and healthier foods became much more flavorful. I know…weird right?!

What is one food you are trying to avoid?

Love,

Serena

 

 

Relax & Refresh

Relax & Refresh

Sometimes, you just need a couple hours to yourself. School or work might have been overwhelming, you might have issues occurring in your relationships, or maybe you just had a grueling week and want to reward yourself. Regardless, in my experience, relaxing and refreshing can be very effective in productivity and feeling a sense of well being. Here are some of the things that I have done in the past to pamper myself!

1.) Hike or take a walk in nature. Even sitting in nature and taking it all in clears my head and makes me feel better.

Views from an awesome hike
Acai Pomegranate Bubble tea

2.) Go out to eat. Yes, sometimes food can be a wonderful reward! This past weekend, I went to a restaurant called Asian Bistro to have delicious hot stone bibimbap, and then I also had lunch at a Japanese restaurant where I had avocado sushi. For snack, I got myself a raisin croissant and an acai pomegranate bubble tea. Everything was so delicious and I felt so happy afterwards!

Vegetarian bibimbap

3.) Go on a run. I’m not a big runner (especially compared to Stephanie), but running helps me “run off my stresses” and “run away from my problems”!

Views from a recent run
Custard pudding- almondy and delicious!

4.) Cook and try out a new recipe. My friend and I made egg custards together, and we had an amazing time bonding and cooking. Even if you’re cooking by yourself (as I often am), cooking is a great way to relax. Seeing and eating the final product gives me an amazing feeling. See my first ever blog post on Why I Love to Cook 🙂

5.) Hang out with your family and/or friends. Whether it’s playing board games together, watching a movie, walking around town, or just talking, being with other people makes me feel happier.

6.) Take a long shower, put on a face mask, and listen to music. Your skin will thank you and you’ll feel super refreshed!

7.) Take a half-day trip by visiting a farm, going to the city (if there’s a city near you), visiting a museum, going to a flea market, or something else.

Farm trip
KALE Heaven

8.) Try something thrilling-like white-water kayaking, or rock climbing 🙂

9.) Take a nap-cause sleep is amazing and I can never get enough of it!

Now that I’ve shared my tips, I hope you feel super inspired.

In the words of my mom: “Work hard, play hard!”

Love,

Serena

My Number One Weight Loss/Maintenance Tip

My Number One Weight Loss/Maintenance Tip

Just this past weekend was Parents’ Weekend so Serena and I got a much deserved long weekend and quality time with our parents!

Coming back home, I stepped on the scale on Saturday morning as the morning before I left for school around 50 days ago, I weighed myself to see how well I would be able to maintain (or even lose!) a couple of pounds.

Much to my surprise, I maintained my weight! While I am a huge proponent of fitness (I’m currently on crutches now due to an injury and am just dying to go on a run!), I think weight wise, diet is key.

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And my number one tip to either maintain weight or to lose weight naturally is simply this: EAT SLOWER. Yep. Simply eating slower. No junk food/processed food elimination, no certain diet, just eating slower.

Now, I am a pretty fast eater. So much so that as a kid (and occasionally even now)  I would get massive stomach gas. This happens when you eat fast that you swallow air along with your food and creates “gas” in your stomach. Read: a lot of farting hours after finishing a meal.

However, I’ve had a couple of slow eating friends (that to be honest, when I was young, I thought were annoying because we would have to wait for them before we could resume our game of tag or whatnot). And if it was coincidence or not, they were all slim. This includes my all-time fave, Serena.

I think the art of eating slowly allows you to be really in tune with your body. When you’re eating fast, you’re not eating for fullness, but you’re eating for your tastebud’s satisfaction. And we’ve all heard of the phrase “Eat with your stomach, not with your eyes.” As someone who has eaten fast for 15 years of her life, I can attest to the “Eating with your stomach.”

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However, when you’re eating slower, it’s harder to force yourself to eat more when you’re full. You are much more cognizant and aware of feeling full that you feel obligated to stop eating, whereas, when you are eating fast, you don’t recognize that full feeling and stop eating until you are physically full (i.e. you have to unbutton your jeans).

So for any of those fast eaters out there, together with me, let’s try to make ourselves a goal. We will eat slower. We will place our forks down between each bite. We will talk more with the people sitting with us. We will NOT be the first ones to finish, but near the last ones to finish (sorry Serena, I don’t think I can eat slower than you … love ya!)

Do any of you guys have a problem with fast eating?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Tips and Tricks for College Dining Halls

Tips and Tricks for College Dining Halls

One to the most defining factors of boarding school is eating at school. Home cooked meals become a rare commodity, a serious treasure. Me and my fellow boarding school friends have the “honor” of being able to experience college-style dining halls four years EARLIER than most. Whether you’re a boarding school student like me or college student, I hope these tips and tricks will help you be smart and eat healthy in the dining halls! Remember, nothing can get in the way of eating healthy!

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Instead of putting these in cups, use Tupperware/Ziplocs! It’s a lot easier!

TRICK #1: Tupperwares and ziploc bags are your saviors.

One of the cons about dining halls is that they only open on certain hours. But, I’m sure a lot of you can relate, I need to snack and my hungry times don’t match up with the dining hall operating hours! 

These are where tupperwares/ziploc bags come in the save the day. Bring a tupperware and a pack of ziplocs from home. I use my tupperware to put yogurt from the yogurt bar. This is especially helpful on Sunday mornings (where no breakfast is served but brunch at 11) when I can have yogurt to hold me over until brunch.

I use my ziplock bags to hold another breakfast item. During breaks or whenever I go back home, I put nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans) plus my favorite granola (Love Crunch Granola) into small ziplock baggies. These daily servings are convenient because the granola in the dining halls are okay, but sugar laden, and they never have my favorite nuts. Also, these daily servings of nuts/granola is helpful or else I would be eating too many!

I personally don’t do this, but I know several friends do, which is packing dry cereal in ziploc bags. If you’re a cereal lover, than why not do this instead of spending money on cereal?

fruit

TRICK #2: Stock up on apples/bananas

Or this really goes with any food that are easily portable. Pretty much everyone I know always leaves breakfast with a banana in their hand. Why? Because they know they are going to get hungry mid-way through the day and a banana is a perfect mid-day pick me up snack.

TIP #1: Do what you would do at home

 I think the main reason why it’s so easy to gain weight is because of the plethora of food but no one to stop you from it. At home, you had your parents to stop you or not allow you to have dessert every day for lunch and dinner. So why not do that at school too?

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TIP #2: Go with the water

Going along with the above tip, you wouldn’t drink soft drinks or juices every day right? As tempting it is to have soft drinks, just go with the water. Your body will thank you (and me) later.

yogurt
Doesn’t it look as appetizing as ice cream?

TIP #3: Healthy substitutes

I know, I know, you have a sweet tooth. So instead of suppressing or restricting that, get in the know of some healthy substitutes. Such as yogurt and granola instead of ice cream. 

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This is an actual picture of my breakfast everyday. I know, ice cream for breakfast? Lucky me…

TIP #4: Use your creativity hat

Realize that you don’t have to resort to just standing line in the hot bar to get your food. I usually get most of my food at other places in the dining hall (sandwich bar, salad bar, omelette bar) while only a small portion of my plate is from the hot bar. 

For example, I don’t like omelettes (egg in the morning don’t work for me), but I use the omelette bar to make sautéed spinach.

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Who says I have to make an omelette at the omelette bar?

Also, I know for people who live by protein shakes : use chocolate milk: great recovery drink!!!

Do you have any tips and tricks to share from your college dining hall experience?

xoxo,

Stephanie