Thursday, March 03, 2005

Heartburn (not) on the Diet

Since being on this South Beach thing, neither Vicki nor I (neither, nor indeed!) have had heartburn. It was something we both had frequently before. We have had none -- zero, since we began this diet Jan 24. Used to be several times a week. Tagamet and Tums were staple items in our house. And it ain't the caffienated coffee, because I'm still drinking that same as before.

Now we weren't on a high fat diet before, but we sure ate a lot of pre-prepared foods - which, as I mentioned before, is the down-side of this diet. More food preparation. More time in the kitchen. Not that we spent a lot of time in it before. What I try to do is cook chicken breasts en masse, then cube them and flash freeze them to use on salads. I do a couple of heads of mashed cauliflower at a time as well and freeze it in little containers, about 2 servings per. And when I chop vegetables (peppers, squash, eggplant, onion) I chop a bunch up, and flash-freeze for later convenience.

Wondering what I mean by flash-freeze? Spread the chopped up stuff on a cookie sheet or similar flat item, one layer thick if you can, and freeze it. Then pull it out and put the frozen stuff in a ziplock or other bag and throw it back in the freezer. The reason you do it this way is so that it doesn't all freeze together and you can take as much or as little out of the bag at a later date, depending on what you need.

So what we'll do is grab a few hands-full of vegetables from the freezer and saute them, heat up some of the pre-prepared mashed cauliflower or other frozen veggie and do some lean ground sirloin or fish or pork chops (the "miriacle thaw" comes in real handy here when we don't think ahead to thaw something) on the little Foreman Grill and dinner can be prepared pretty fast with all that chopping out of the way.

I also chop up buckets full of lettuce and veggies ahead of time for the salads we have for lunch. Then in the morning throw about 3 or so cups of lettuce in a container, 1 cup of frozen chicken breast cubes, grab some sugar free jello (and now that we're on Phase II) an apple and a slice of whole wheat bread -- and lunch (and morning and afternoon snacks) is done. Vicki grabs celery and that famous Laughing Cow cheese.

And I make up the breakfast quiches ahead of time as well. Grab a few of those and a slice of canadian bacon and your V8 and you're good to go. Boiled eggs are also a staple I keep done up ahead of time. The key is to make efficient use of your time in the kitchen so that you have to spend less time when you get up or get home tomorrow night and make it much easier on yourself to make good food choices. When alf the preparation is done ahead of time, it's easy to have a good (and good for you) meal.

Just as an example, the other night I spent an hour in the kitchen making bread (bread machine) cooking chicken breasts, boiling eggs, and making Jello, and slicing lettuce and radishes. A couple of nights before I steamed up two heads of cauliflower -- didn't feel like mashing them right then, stuck them in the fridge. Last night I decided to use some, so I went ahead and mashed ALL of it -- which didn't take too long -- while I was preparing the rest of dinner -- and froze what we didn't use last night.

It's been good for us. I lost my 12 lbs, Vicki's lost about 12. I am back to being able to have a beer at night, too :-)

Oh, the other thing we discovered (well, this was before we went on the diet, but it's come in real handy on the diet) -- flavored sparkling water. Mendota and La Croix -- natural fruit flavored sparkling water. No calories. No artificial flavors. No sodium. Just mildly naturally flavored fizzy water. Feels more like a snack, and I like it as well as soda. Maybe even better. Mendota has lemon and lime and La Croix has lemon, lime, orange, and berry (they both have unflavored) -- all of which are good.

So, like they say, this is not so much a diet as it is "changing the way we eat". Changing what makes up the majority of our diet. You're not really "depriving" yourself, you're eating a better balanced variety of food -- most of the time it's not pizza or breaded cheese sticks -- but it can be sometimes, in the long run.

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