My Food + Drink Rules

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Simple Tricks to Keep Me On Track

Counting macros was pivotal in helping me find a meal plan that, combined with regular exercise, has helped me earn and maintain a physical and mental space that I’m pretty happy with.  And I mean, just that sentence alone is HUGE, because like most women I know, I used to obsess over every single thing I ate.  I went through a period of being crazy restrictive with my diet and over exercising regularly.  I had food guilt, I internally body shamed myself, and for most of my life I wasn’t happy with how I looked.  So to FINALLY say, I think I look and feel good, well that’s monumental my friends.

You can check out my post on Counting Macros here, because it’s a great starting point for anyone looking to really buckle down and make a change.  By counting macros, I learned that my meals and snacks needed to have a healthy balance of proteins, fats and carbs to keep me satiated and also help me maintain lean muscle (otherwise counting calories alone puts you at risk of being “skinny fat”).  I learned portion control and what portions are right for me.  And I learned these tips and tricks that I still use today as my personal Food and Drink “Rules” to keep me on track that I’m sharing with you. There are times when I make exceptions. If I’m on vacation or out and REALLY want a sugary specialty cocktail, I have one…one. Not five. Sticking to the Rules below keep me on track without restriction so I can feel good about myself. 

Budgets Sucks, But You Gotta Stick To Them

I really look at my meal plan (I prefer this term over “diet” because it feels less restrictive) as a budget.  No one gets rich spending all their cash, and no one has the body they want eating whatever they want all the time.  I aim to eat healthy all day long so that after dinner I can enjoy a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate, as a sort of treat for making it through the day.   A nice glass of Malbec and a small handful of Bark Thins (with almonds or coconuts, if you want to get specific) or the Pretzel Slims from Trader Joes, are my little slice of bliss every night once the kids are bed and I’m able to relax with my husband. On weekends I’ll splurge more in terms of dessert or dinner, but I truly listen to my body and never eat until I’m full and uncomfortable.

Size Does Matter

Counting macros was literally eye-opening when it came to portions.  It was tedious and I probably looked like a psycho, but I bought a food scale and weighed my food.  Hey, I was committed to making a change, and true change does not come easy or overnight.  Counting macros and weighing my food taught me that I wasn't eating enough protein, which your body needs to stay satiated and maintain muscle. Weighing and portioning my food helped to mentally reset how I looked at the portions my body needed.   

Here are a few portion size tricks I learned:

·      A portion of protein/meat should be the size of your palm.  When I make my salad for lunch, a handful of shredded chicken generally measures to 3-4 ounces of meat.

·      I eat my dinners on a salad plate.  Even if it doesn't look like much, I know that this size is right for me based on when I used to count macros.

·      I put ice cream or fro-yo in a stemless wine cup and fill it up!  Visually, it looks nice and full, but I know it’s a fraction of the amount of what would fill a bowl. 

·      I eat my nightly chocolate out of a small glass ramekin- same concept as above.

Don’t Drink Your Calories

I used to love a Tall Almond Milk Chai Latte, but I kissed those goodbye once I started counting macros.  I would rather eat my calories OR enjoy a class of wine over a latte, if I had to choose – and I did have to choose when I was counting macros.  I’m pretty strict about my beverage choices, which include:

·      Coffee with a nut-milk creamer – I love Califia Farms, otherwise a splash of almond milk works – No Sugar.  Since this is one of the most flavorful beverages I drink in a day, I’m pretty committed to my healthy coffee creamer and starting my day with this.  So much so that I bring my own creamer when traveling to my parents or in-laws.

·      Iced coffee – I’m going to admit right here that I try to keep to the real stuff as much as possible through out the day, EXCEPT I do like the sugar-free vanilla syrup from Starbucks in my afternoon iced coffee.  Should I give it up?  Yes probably.  But if it’s my one thing that’s not so healthy, then  I think I’m doing ok.

·      Seltzer Waters

·      Wine

·      Champagne

·      Unsweetened Green or Ice Tea

·      Hot Tea – no sugar


Limit the Booze

This can be a tough one for some people but if you’re serious about being healthy physically, then you need to have an honest assessment of how much alcohol you drink.  When I decided to give counting macros a try, Bryce and I were kid-free and still going out a lot.  I would see incredible results during the week from counting macros- I’m talking a 5 lb weight loss and a flat stomach in a week- but a weekend of drinking would literally put me back at square one.  I stick to my one 4-6 ounce glass of wine a night…ok if I’m being honest and it’s been a tough one, I might have a “splash more.”  Weekend nights out are a 2-drink limit and that is plenty for me.  And the occasional wedding or special event, I’ll eek out maybe 3 drinks over 4+ hours.


Save the Sweets for After Dinner

This is just a personal thing that works for me, but sticking to a consistent habit helps me. If I have sweets in the middle of the day, it just makes me want more and throws my whole day off food-wise. So I always wait to have it after dinner.


The Real Stuff IS Better

I really implore you to start paying attention to the ingredients in your foods and drinks.  I see so many women subsiding on not enough calories or eating foods filled with unpronounceable ingredients to stay slim.  I love a fad item as much as the next person, but it’s important to me to put real foods into my body and to set a healthy example for my daughter.  There was a time when I was obsessed with a protein bar that I have now cut out, because the ingredients aren’t all natural.  And frankly, eating a portion of a pint of real ice cream (I do stick to non-dairy, but it’s not fat-free) versus an entire pint of Halo top ice cream is simply more satisfying and fulfilling.  Even my nightly dessert, I have the real stuff and just have a small portion.  I think as Americans we love a big portion so we go for the lower calorie fake stuff so we can eat our faces off.  But are you truly satisfied afterwards?  And more importantly, are you seeing the results you want with your diet?  

Natalie StrahornComment