“Culinary Confessions” is a series that opens the books on our eating habits and shares our shopping, cooking, dining and diet strategies with you.
Taking care of our bodies is an inexact science. While we can guesstimate the nutritional data of our food and exercise, we can’t possibly track the numbers flawlessly unless we own extensive medical equipment.
We can, however, keep a pretty good diary of what we’re eating and how much we’re exercising to get a better grasp on our health status and needs. That’s a practice I’ve adopted in the past year as I’ve targeted better overall health, and it’s a disciplined process that’s helped me lose more than 75 pounds and more than a few inches off my once-concerning waistline.
This diary tracks and reveals to you everything—and I mean everything—I ate during one whole week, Monday to Sunday in late January and early February. While the exact meals I consume vary widely from week to week sometimes, this is a pretty standard summary of how I eat in a week at this time in my life.
Before we get to business, here are a just a couple of things to understand about what you read below.
MAKE THE MOST OF IT: You’ll notice what might seem to you like some random meal choices at points, such as homemade meatloaf sliders, and you should know that this reflects my creative approach to cooking. We do not waste food in our house. I repeat: We do not waste food in our house. Period. If something does go bad, we throw it out. Otherwise, we eat all leftover homemade food, and we take to-go boxes for our restaurant leftovers and then consume them later. You waste a lot of money if you leave food on the table, and you’re squandering valuable opportunities to cut down on having to come up with new meals from scratch, either from a restaurant or your own kitchen. The leftover meatloaf became easy sandwiches nearly a week after the first meal was made.
THE HOME-COOKED ADVANTAGE: You’ll note that some meals, snacks and desserts are simple foods that have easily countable/quantifiable calories, while others do not. This reflects the importance of eating whole foods and making food at home. Dining out often leads to a tremendous increase in calories and other nutritional data such as sodium. When I eat out, many restaurants don’t provide me with calorie, fat, sugar and other numbers to report them exactly. Sure, My Fitness Pal and other tracking apps can estimate, but a cheeseburger at one restaurant and a cheeseburger at another will differ in nutrition facts. Of course fast food restaurants and some others do provide certain data you can plug into your diet diary.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: You’ll see that I only eat out a couple times—at most—in a week. Normally, I eat one meal from a restaurant in a given week. That gives me better control over what I’m putting into my body because I’m making most things from scratch at home. However, in addition to a couple of restaurant meals on this particular week, two things impacted my diet diary. I ate one additional meal and dessert on Friday evening at my parents’ house that was outside my normal simple eating plan, and the Sunday on this week happened to be Super Bowl Sunday. On that day, I allowed a little more #FoodieScore freedom and snacking than on a normal day.
THE RIGHT FORMULA: Finally, please understand that I do not subscribe to any kind of belief or plan that counting calories or eating only certain foods will by itself help you improve your health. I do not endorse Weight Watchers or any fad diet. Instead, I believe awareness of what we eat is our greatest ally, because it allows us to balance our eating with our exercise in order to be healthier than we would be if we just ate what we want every time we want. I do have a short list of nutrient-friendly foods I highly recommend as the basis for a better diet if you’ve struggled with choices and portions as I have for many years. These foods are low in calories and sugars, while high in other beneficial nutrients.
In the end, doing the best you can to make more good food choices while also exercising consistently is the best equation for healthier living, and I’ve seen proof of that in the past year as I’ve dropped 25 percent of my body weight with that approach.
* I have included calorie information below where possible. If you’re interested in more specifics about calories for certain items, comment below or email me. I’d be glad to share what I know!
EXERCISE: Walked 3 miles
Breakfast – ½ cup oatmeal cooked in water with 1 teaspoon honey, 1 banana and water (261 calories total)
Lunch – 2 pieces 12-grain dry toast, 2 steamed egg whites, 1 raw chopped carrot and water (284 calories total)
Snack – ½ cup dark chocolate hummus, 7 butter crackers (222 calories total)
Dinner – 1 grilled chicken breast, cooked spinach, brown rice, dinner roll and water (450 calories total)
Dessert – homemade chocolate pudding with vanilla wafers (300 calories total)
EXERCISE: Walked 3 miles
Breakfast – ½ cup oatmeal cooked in water with 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon flax seed, 1 banana, 1 cup Greek yogurt and water (381 calories total)
Lunch – 1 piece 12-grain dry toast, 2 steamed egg whites, veggie straw chips and water (284 calories total)
Snack – ¼ cup pecan halves (200 calories)
Dinner – 1 grilled chicken breast on 1 sandwich bun with 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce, ¼ cup sautéed mushrooms, sautéed onions, 1 serving of mac and cheese, 1 serving of baked beans and water (950 calories total)
Dessert – 1 slice Atlantic Beach (lemon) pie with ¼ cup 2 percent milk
EXERCISE: Walked 3 miles
Breakfast – ½ cup oatmeal cooked in water with 1 teaspoon honey and ¼ cup pecan halves, and water (371 calories total)
Snack – 1 cup black coffee with 1 cup 2 percent milk and 1 1/3 tablespoons instant mocha mix for iced coffee (192 calories total)
Lunch – ½ cup cooked, seasoned beef with sautéed onions in 1 hot dog bun with 1 raw chopped carrot and water (350 calories total)
Snack – 5 saltine crackers with 2 tablespoons peanut butter (230 calories total)
Dinner – 1 seasoned grilled chicken breast and sautéed onions with ½ cup shredded cheese and black beans on two flour tortillas, and water (690 calories total)
Dessert – ½ cup Oreo mint chip ice cream (400 calories)
EXERCISE: Walked 3 miles
Breakfast – ¼ cup plain oatmeal made with water and 1 small banana, Belgian waffle with ½ tablespoon butter and a honey syrup drizzle, with a no-sugar iced coffee of black coffee with ¼ cup milk (580 calories total)
Lunch – 1 can tuna with no extra seasoning and 5 butter crackers, 1 serving unsalted peanuts and water (380 calories total)
Dinner – 2 fried eggs, 2 dinner rolls with 2 tablespoons apple butter, 2 slices low-sodium bacon, 1 cup grits cooked with milk and butter, unsweet tea (702 calories total)
Dessert – 2 small Nutella pecan cupcakes (350 calories total)
EXERCISE: Walked 4 miles
Breakfast – 1 cup blackberry Greek yogurt with 1 teaspoon flax seed and 2 cups coffee with light cream (150 calories total)
Lunch – Kim’s Kitchen cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and mayo, and fried squash with ranch dip, and water
Dessert – 1 cup homemade peach cobbler
Dinner – mixed salad with cheese and light ranch dressing, 1 toasted croissant with honey butter, and water
Dessert – homemade banana pudding
EXERCISE: Walked 1 mile
Breakfast – 1 square homemade Belgian waffle with 1 teaspoon honey syrup and 1 strip low-sodium bacon and black coffee (110 calories total)
Snack – Downtown Deli & Donuts peanut butter and jelly doughnut with ½ cup coffee with light cream and 1 sugar
Lunch – Willy Taco blue corn tortilla chips and salsa, 1 crispy avocado taco and 1 Carolina BBQ taco, and water
Dinner – 1 mug tomato soup made with milk, toasted cheese sandwich made with 1 piece cheddar in toaster oven, and unsweet tea (425 calories total)
EXERCISE: Walked 2 miles
Breakfast – latte made with black coffee and three tablespoons cream, ½ cup plain oatmeal made with water (300 calories total)
Lunch – leftover meatloaf sliders with mozzarella cheese on browned rolls, 1 hot dog on 1 bun with mustard, French fries and unsweet tea
Dessert – 2 small homemade rice cereal treats
Snack – homemade party mix
Dinner – 3 slices homemade pizza with bacon, and unsweet tea
Dessert – homemade peach cobbler with one scoop vanilla ice cream
Do you track what you eat and how you exercise? We’d love to learn about your approach to healthy eating. Share your story with us in the comments on this post, on our Facebook page, or by emailing us here. Thanks so much for reading and eating with us!