One of the things I have been struggling with the most is balancing my calories throughout the day with foods I eat for enjoyment purposes versus those that I eat for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I generally use Livestrong’s Daily Plate to track my calorie goals and based on my current weight and height, I should be consuming around 1850 calories a day to maintain my weight with a sedentary lifestyle. That being said, I’m actually trying to drop a few pounds, so my real calorie goal is only 1350 calories a day (luckily, I manage to sneak in at least 3 to 4 workouts a week, which allows me to bump up that number).
Having an allowance of 1350 calories a day may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t, especially with all the foods I’m trying to include in my daily diet. It becomes imperative that I include regular workouts to be able to enjoy all the crazy foods I love to cook and eat. I think I have managed to figure out a solution for fitting in all the items I eat for health vs the meals that have a more social aspect to them.
In the morning, I start my day with a glass of kale, celery, carrot and apple juice. I recently read an article about “responsible juicing” where it was mentioned that a cup of this juice is sufficient – the first few days I drank this juice, I did get a mild headache, but that is a known side effect of juicing, especially as your body detoxifies. If you’re planning on juicing, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. I feel great ever since I’ve added this juice into my diet – I no longer feel the need for caffeine (although I still love the taste of coffee and earl grey tea). This juice adds about 175 calories to my day.
Once I get to work, I have my protein shake – this has been the most difficult item to incorporate into my day, especially since I don’t really enjoy the taste of it. There are protein powders that taste better, but I’m determined to avoid soy and dairy in such a processed form – that leaves me with very few choices, but this “meal” is purely functional – to ensure I consume enough protein. I pack my shake cup with a scoop of protein and mix it with water when I get to work. The two options for protein powder I use are either Douglas Labs’ Protein Powder Plus or when I’m traveling, I pick up the convenient individual serving pouches of Vega Sport Plant-Based Protein. Unfortunately, the Vega brand contains stevia leaf extract – I’m not convinced either way on the controversy over this ingredient, but it is banned in the European Union because there is not enough known about it. I’d rather stick to good ol’ fructose that is found in the Douglas Labs’ product, but enjoy the convenience of Vega when necessary. Be careful when picking out your protein powder – it is an additive magnet. My protein powder adds another 100 calories to my day.
Other supplements I have throughout the day include Evening Primrose Oil (25 calories) and occasionally Amazing Grass Green Superfood (30 calories). That leaves me with 1020 calories to eat for lunch, an afternoon snack and dinner, if I’m not working out that day. Trying not to exceed 1000 calories is no easy feat, especially when a serving of brown rice adds up to 200 calories (and let’s be real – who actually eats only a single serving of rice?) and half an avocado can add up to 150 calories. One thousand calories may be quite a lot of calories if you’re trying to pack your meals with nutritious, fresh foods, but a single serving of cheese, eating out (even at a vegan restaurant), stopping for an afternoon latte or snacking before dinner can easily tip you over the top.
For now, I’m thrilled that I’ve actually been able to follow a routine that is achievable and does not require a significant amount of extra effort. I’m meeting my requirements to eat for health (which should always be a primary focus), while still being able to enjoy a large variety of foods from a social standpoint. Which reminds me…the weekend has begun! Have a great one!