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New Nutritionista Feature: Upgrade You

August 20th, 2009 No Comments

— By Nutritionista

I’m debuting a new feature right here on More Than Mary! I used to do a regular feature called Analyze This, but I stopped because it seemed to be making people feel bad about the way they eat (which was totally not my intention). I’m bringing it back with a new name and a new primary goal. Instead of focusing on helping people figure out how they can lose weight, I’m going to focus on helping people upgrade their diets to include more whole, unprocessed foods that will keep them feeling satisfied longer.

First up? My girl Katie. Katie says she’s fallen into an exercise and eating rut and I’m here to get her out of it.

Her daily eats, with my upgrades underneath:

  • Breakfast: cereal like Cheerios or Total, 2% milk, blueberries or banana, water

Upgrade: Most commercial cereals are NOT a good choice for breakfast. They simply lack the protein and fiber I need to get me going. Sure, they’re fortified with vitamins, but why not get your vitamins from natural sources? If you’re committed to eating cereal for breakfast, follow my cereal guidelines here. Bottom line: Choose something with at least 5g protein and 4-5g fiber. To make it a true upgrade, I’d have Katie switch to rolled or steel-cut oats. It’s a much less processed option and you can add plenty of fun mix-ins.

  • Snack: string cheese, small piece of fruit

Upgrade: Cut up the fruit and eat it with a serving of low-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt (for more protein), adding ground flax to the bowl for a little more staying power.

  • Lunch: whole wheat pita stuffed with spinach, 3 oz chopped chicken, a smear of hummus on both sides with a sprinkling of feta.

Katie says: “I buy the chicken in the cafeteria at work, so I’m not sure how it’s prepared. What should I look for here when I ask them? What can I do instead if it’s not a good choice?”

Upgrade: Katie’s lunch is okay by me, but to make sure the chicken is a good choice, it should be grilled, baked, or roasted rather than fried or sauteed. Ask them how much and what kind of oil they use to cook with. Just a bit of olive oil is best, but as long as they’re not pan-fried in gallons of oil, it should be alright.

  • Snack: 5 Hershey kisses and later, a glass of Sweet Leaf Mint & Honey iced tea


Upgrade: Most people get a strong, almost unavoidable craving for sugar right around 3 or 4pm. The cure? Dried fruit. It’s plenty sweet, but much less processed than the candy Katie’s currently eating. I’d eat some dried mango, pear, or banana with a small handful of nuts to get a little bit of healthy fat and protein. Her iced tea is in place of pop (she recently cut it out of her diet), so even though it’s sweetened with cane juice, it’s already an upgrade.

  • Dinner: Wolfgang Puck chicken wild rice, chicken egg noodle, or chicken tortilla soup with baby spinach added (can you tell I read your blog?), piece of whole wheat toast


Upgrade: Eating canned soup most nights, even something “natural” like Wolfgang Puck, is not a great meal plan. Canned soup usually contains a lot of added sodium and not enough vegetables. Why not make a huge pot of vegetable-rich soup on Sunday and eat it throughout the week? Try my signature vegetable soup. It’s easy, completely healthy, utterly satisfying, and gets better and better as it sits in the fridge a few days.

I eat this every night, but about one night a week, I go out for sushi. (miso soup, avocado roll, and sashimi roll)

I never say no to sushi!

  • Exercise: I don’t really work out. I do the 30 Day Shred 2x a week and walk a lot on campus and at work. I swim once a week, sometimes more.

Upgrade: I like the Shred DVDs, but I think they’re better as a complement to some other kind of activity. The Shred workouts seem to train muscles sort of haphazardly and therefore don’t strike me as being all that comprehensive. I think Katie could benefit from adding more full-body strength training into her routine. I’m telling you, STRENGTH TRAINING WILL CHANGE YOUR BODY IN WAYS THAT CARDIO DOESN’T! Katie could try my Weight Training without the Gym routine. All you need is a pair of 5-10 lb. weights to get started.

I plan on making Upgrade You a weekly feature on Wednesdays, so if you’d like me to upgrade your diet, please send me a detailed log of your average daily eats (and exercise, if you choose).