Healthy But Hearty

Nutrition is a challenge for me for two reasons and surprisingly, neither of them are the massive food issues I talked about last time. Eating healthy is often conflated with eating light and that's what I have a difficult time with.

As a 5'11” male, my “ideal” weight varies by research scientist. Based on the Robinson formula (BMI), I “should” weigh 160 pounds. Based on the Hamwi formula, I have a little wiggle room and “should” weigh 171 pounds. Based on reality, I will never, ever weigh the average 165 pounds that I “should” weigh.

At my slimmest—obsessively monitoring every morsel of food I ate like a maniac and exercising compulsively, with a 24-year-old's metabolism—I was barely under 200 pounds. I don’t know what I weigh now, but barring drastic medical treatments or some very unhealthy habits, it will not be anywhere near what Robinson and Hamwi say I “should” be. I just wasn’t made that way.

I’m naturally a big dude and I’m also a pretty active one. I try to work out five days a week and usually get to four. I kickbox and run and lift weights and bike to work when meteorologically appropriate. Granted, I do that more to avoid the general public on the N train than for exercise, but whatever, I still do it.

And that’s why I have a hard time with eating light: I’m a large person who moves a lot. Having a smoothie for breakfast means I’m hungry at like 10 a.m. A Mason jar salad looks good on BuzzFeed, but would realistically fill me up for about 20 minutes.

Here are three ways that I personally deal with all of that:

1. Make plans

If you work in an office, you know the deal. There’s a vending machine full of chips and a candy dish on the receptionist’s desk, and as if that wasn’t enough, it is always somebody’s birthday. You can pass on cake, but invariably, someone will make it their life’s mission to get red velvet in your mouth.

If you’re not armed with the right snacks, it’s way too easy to graze on crap all day long. I keep a couple of Quest bars and some Cheerios in my desk drawer. For the sake of variety, sometimes I’ll also bring bananas or apples or carrots with a Tupperware full of this awesome black bean hummus I like.

2. Make salad substantial

If you put “Weight loss food” into Google Images, guess what you’ll find? I’ll give you a hint: Lots of vegetables and salads. Since a cup of rabbit food isn’t going to fill me up, I make sure the salads I bring to work have something more to them.
There’s always a lot of protein, in the form of both meat and quinoa, which is usually the base layer. Pro-tip: If you cook it in broth instead of water, it has a lot more flavor. Basically, if you make salads that look like Chipotle burrito bowls, you get all the health benefits of the salad without being hungry again within the hour.

3. Make every day a “cheat day”

But not really, though. I hate the term “cheat day” because it implies that eating pizza is inherently bad and something to feel guilty over. I also think that if you reserve one day a week for that, you’re more likely to go overboard because you’ve been looking forward to that ice cream cone or whatever for the past six days.

Rather than one full day of decadence, I like to break it up. There’s a breakfast—by which I obviously mean a bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel—a lunch and a dinner, just not all in the same day.

So, that's what I do. What really matters, though, is what you do.

What are your favorite healthy snacks that keep you full?
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