Let’s Talk Diet…

First and foremost, I’d like to go on the record and say that while I enjoy writing, I do not have a degree in English; nor am I a doctor, although I may have played one on TV at one point or another. 🙂  Having said that, with all the emails and messages that I’ve received from people, expressing a great deal of interest in a healthy lifestyle and even more specifically, what I eat on a daily basis,  I thought I would make some time to offer up some dietary advice.

Truth be told, I wasn’t blessed with a lightning speed metabolism, so staying fit over the years has,  at times, been quite challenging.  I am not “naturally skinny” and I love to eat, so believe me when I say, it would be really easy for me to grow a few dress sizes larger than I am. Trust me, I’ve been there.

As a teen-ager in high-school, I remember being able to eat anything that I wanted to and not have it effect my weight.  I felt lucky.  But when I got to college, my “luck,” seemed to run out.  The grilled cheeses with bacon, french-fries with gravy, syrup-dipped breakfast sausage, pizza and other fast-foods had caught up with me.  Sadly, I realized that those days of being able to eat anything were long gone; and if I were to continue eating this way, I was going to continue to grow in size.

I had to make a change.   I exercised.  I dieted.  At one point, I even joined a weight loss program.  Trying to figure out a proper diet and fitness regimen that would get me into the physical shape that I wanted to be in, seemed like an on-going, frustrating, science experiment.  But after many years of “research”, listening to my body and paying attention to the effects that food had on me, both physically and mentally,  I was able to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Simply put, when I eat well, my body responds positively.  My energy level increases exponentially from all of the vitamins and nutrients I’ve ingested.  My immune system is stronger. My skin and eyes are clear and bright; and I have an overall feeling on contentment.  

On the other hand, when I eat poorly, I lack energy. I’m grumpy.  I feel lumpy.  My complexion is dull.  I experience “brain fog”,  and well, since I haven’t given my body the proper nutrients it was looking for, I am hungry again shortly thereafter.  This, unfortunately, leads to overeating, and ultimately, weight gain.

Now, think of your body as a “vehicle”.  A one of kind, state of the art vehicle which transports you through life. Take into consideration, when operating said “vehicle,” the kind of “gas” (food) you use to fuel up with.  Check the nutritional values and you’ll see, that not all calories are created equally.  Just because it fills you up, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to provide your body with the nutrients it needs.

A good diet (think high octane fuel) nourishes the body, while maintaining normal blood sugar levels, providing energy all day long, and helping the individual’s “vehicle” operate at optimum levels.  

Dietary tips to consider :  

  • SUGAR

Limit your sugar intake. 

Those sugary beverages (which goes for alcohol too) are a waste of calories.  Keep in mind that simple carbohydrates (white, starchy foods with little or no fiber such as pasta, white bread, and white rice) will all turn to sugar and be stored as fat in your body if you are not moving enough to burn through all of what I call, “empty calories.”  So cut them out, and replace with them high-fiber, complex carbohydrates like oats, beans, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole grain bread.  If you’ve got a sugar craving, eat a piece of organic fruit with the skin on.  I love apples with peanut butter.

  • FAT

Olive, avocado, sunflower and grapeseed oils are great to use for cooking and in salad dressings.  When I need a snack to hold me over until the next meal, I’ll often choose nuts like almonds or pistachios.  But again, remember the portion control.  Nuts are high in fat and in calories, so a small handful is all you need. Limit saturated fats like butter, lard, cheese, and cream. 

  • FIBER

A high-fiber diet will fill you up longer and keep you “regular”. 🙂 

  • PROTEIN:

Our body breaks protein down into amino acids which aid in so many bodily functions.  A 4-6 oz. portion of lean, protein (chicken, fish, meat) is about the size of your fist.  Try to have some in every meal.  If you don’t have time, or you need a quick snack, a protein shake is very convenient.  Protein takes longer to digest, so it will also make you feel fuller for a longer period of time, and will decrease those urges to snack.

  • PORTION CONTROL

Use a smaller plate.  I actually eat my morning cereal out of a cup, and use a salad plate for most meals.

  • WATER

Drink it… Lots of it.

Getting adequate hydration is the key!  More than half of our body weight is made up of water.

Organs need water to help them work efficiently.  It aids in digestion and helps to flush out toxins.  Proper hydration is also like an internal moisturizer, great for the skin. For additional vitamins, and to enhance flavor, try adding some citrus to it. With so many health benefits, you really can’t go wrong, so drink up!

And that’s it, folks.  You are capable of doing anything that you put your mind to.  We have one life to live, and one “‘vehicle” to get us through it.   Take care of your body, and your body will take care of you. 

-D

Questions and comments left below will be answered to the best of my ability.  😉

Photo Credit: Brent Weber

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28 Comments

  1. Dawn

    Hey Dina. I need help with some healthy foods to eat for breakfast. I normally don’t eat breakfast thanks

  2. Iain

    Hi dina
    Looking for a healthy breakfast without the usual avocado,nuts and seeds. Something inexpensive that your average joe might have in home.

    • Hi Iain-

      Here are a couple of options:

      Bowl of oatmeal and 2 eggs prepared simply (not fried in butter)

      Bowl of high fiber (+ low sugar) cereal, banana, protein shake

      Two eggs, chicken sausage, a slice of whole grain toast.

      Greek yogurt + fruit and granola

      Fruit and cottage cheese with a small bowl of cereal or slice of whole grain toast.

      Breakfast burrito- Scrambled eggs with ground turkey or chicken, onion, bell pepper – whole grain tortilla

      The idea is to put some good fuel into your body from the start. I often make breakfast and lunch my largest meals, and eat very lightly at dinner time. This way, I burn through most of the calories I’ve eaten at the beginning of the day, and snack less later..

      I hope this helps.

  3. Dawn

    Thanks for sharing this Dina. I’m going to start this Monday. I’m a huge fan.

  4. James OHara

    Hi Dina,

    Wow, I was not expecting this when I looked you up. Just watched Starship Troopers and Johnny Mnemonic for the who knows how many’th time and wanted to see what else you are in, and saw you as Batgirl, damn I can’t believe i missed that.

    And to my surprise, you’re from Long Island. Being from Hicksville i was only a few towns over and I’ve been there back in the day in 86-88, so decided to look around more and found this post on diet. It is one of the more common sense and real messages I’ve come across in a long time that i felt like I wanted to say Hi and say the following.

    Sadly my life with food has taken the wrong turn you didn’t take, congrats to you. 🙂

    I didn’t stop eating the “good” foods. I gained for some time, got diabetes and managed to get it under control by running and losing some weight, but then life messed around and I’m back where i was weight wise and worse on my sugars for so long and it’s done bad things… so to anyone else that reads this that got diabetes… read up on “Charcot foot” and avoid my fate, it’s like my vehicle has a flat tire.

    I finally have decided, again, that i need to do something, unfortunately running is no longer an option, I’m thinking about cycling as it’s less impact to my feet, but I’ve managed to cut out all of the junk food and for the first time in I can’t remember when have a low “high normal everyone else” blood sugar from 323 to 131, and dropped 20 lbs in a month (295 to 275).

    But as i read your message and the comments from and to others, I am reminded that i can go to far the other way and plateau or slow down my metabolism. to get where I’ve just lost the 20, I’ve cut my calories so much. Eating a large fast food breakfast and a larger than regular persons dinner is not good, but neither is going to the other extreme. i certainly don’t want to go back to way i was eating, but the problem is that I’ve never been a fan of many of the complex carbos you mention. beans, oats, sweet potatoes and brown rice, but i will try some of them again.

    When you mention protein shakes, do you man something pre-made or something you’ve made yourself?

    Lots of good advice here, plain and simple stuff I knew and forgot, but also reality that you’ve worked on it for so long, keep up the good work, and looking forward to seeing you in upcoming roles..

    Thanks,
    James

    • Hi James,
      Congratulations to you on your recent weight loss and decline in blood sugar levels.
      Good for you, for making some healthy choices and starting to reap the benefits!

      As there are a quite a few points here that I would like to address, I have decided to use the information as content for my next blog entry.
      There are some things I’d like you to consider, but since I am not an expert on diabetes, I encourage you to discuss first, with your doctor.

      I’ll post the link as soon as it’s ready. Shouldn’t be too long.

      • James OHara

        Hi Dina,
        Thanks for the kind reply. I feel better than a month ago, but I know I need to keep going which can be the hardest when someone is just beginning this journey. (again)

        I will keep a lookout for your next entry. 🙂

        I have seen a few diabetes doctors over the years and I think I’ll be looking for a new one, as it’s important to have a doctor you can work with that values you as a person, not just a number.

        -James

  5. Rita

    Are you a fan of avacado toast with red pepper flakes for breakfast? It’s one of my favorites and when I have time, I like to add a poached egg on top as well!
    Huge fan of yours for a long time! You are gorgeous girl! 🙂

  6. Shawn

    Dina,

    Thanks for the great information! Do you have a favorite pre-workout meal or snack? Also, how long do you wait after consuming your fuel before you begin your workout?

  7. Rachel

    As a newly-diagnosed diabetic, I’ve had to get really serious about food. I had a fairly healthy diet before the family diabetes kicked in, but I’ve had to step up my game. I’ve added more seafood and vegetables, but perhaps the best advice I got from my dietician was to make sure I still enjoyed eating. Make good food fun to eat, and you’ll have less trouble sticking to whatever food plan is right for you.

  8. Soohie

    Hello Dina
    I don’t eat a lot
    It’s difficult to lost kilogram
    I have stress
    I afraid to eat more
    Breakfast : coffee and fruit or bread
    Lunch : small portion salad and meat but l don’t eat méat all The time
    Dessert fruit or yoghourt
    No cheese
    2 l of water per day
    No alcool
    I am french and canadian
    I lived to Canada but now l live to Paris
    33 years in France
    10 years in Canada
    Size 1m70
    Weight 61 kg
    To have a fast métabolism
    What do you propose me?
    And which sport?
    Thank you so much Dina
    You are à model for me
    You are fantastic

    • Hi Sophie-

      I don’t know if you forgot to list dinner, or if you skip it. Peut-etre “dessert” est votre souper? But based on this information alone, it doesn’t seem like you are eating enough.
      Think of metabolism like a fire. If you want the fire to burn hotter, you need to feed it. Stop feeding it, and the fire will die. But quite frankly, you already seem to be at a healthy weight for your height. It might be difficult to lose weight, because your body doesn’t want you to lose anymore.
      If you are physically able, I would suggest trying yoga. It decreases stress levels, and tones muscles simultaneously.
      Good Luck, doll.

      • Sophie

        Hello Dina

        Thank you for your help’

        I try to eat more + yoga

        You are a very Nice person
        You Give your Time for us

        Take care and have Nice day

        Sophie

      • Sophie

        Hello Dina

        You Give me energy, motivation
        You are an angel
        Thank you very much
        You are very beautiful and very Nice
        Very generous
        Have a Nice day and enjoy
        😊😘

  9. Rob

    Hi Dina
    My issue is with motavation. Staying focused and keeping it up is always a problem.
    What do you do to motivate yourself?

    • Hi Rob,

      Music always helps me; and soon, I start seeing the results of my work.
      Feeling better and stronger is all the motivation I need to keep going.
      Just stay with it.
      🙂

  10. Sophie

    Hello DIna

    I don’t eat a lot
    Just a Little sugar with fruit and yoghourt
    A Little méat
    I prefer vegetable
    And l lost just a little
    I don’t Understand
    What’s happen?

    • Hi Sophie,

      Your metabolism may have slowed down.
      If that’s all you are eating, it’s possible you might not be eating enough.
      I would need a little more information.

      • Sophie

        I have stress
        I afraid to eat more
        Breakfast : coffee and fruit or bread
        Lunch : small portion salad and meat but l don’t eat méat all The time
        Dessert fruit or yoghourt
        No cheese
        2 l of water per day
        No alcool
        I am french and canadian
        I lived to Canada but now l live to Paris
        33 years in France
        10 years in Canada
        Size 1m70
        Weight 61 kg
        To have a fast métabolism
        What do you propose me?
        And which sport?
        Thanks a lot
        You are very Nice

  11. Sean

    You had me at Grilled Cheese with Bacon!!!!

  12. Eddie

    Hi Dina,
    Having struggled with weight gain over the last few years, I’ve managed to change my lifestyle and drop 2 stone but have plateaued. A bit of a change in habits might help so following along the lines of what you’ve written here might just do the trick… still addicted to the rice crackers with peanut butter and banana you put me onto a couple of years ago too ! 😋

    All the best

    Eddie x

    • Ah yes, the rice cake, PB and banana snack… Just remember, they are a snack and should be enjoyed in moderation. Rice cakes, like other simple carbohydrates metabolize as sugar and will be stored as fat if you are not burning enough calories during the day. Watch your portions. 🙂

  13. Rose

    Great post. All straight forward, common sense stuff that we sometimes need a reminder about. ❤

  14. Rachele

    Hello,
    thanks for the tips.
    I’ve been struggling with my weight for all my life, especially after I turned 30, that coincide with me stopping to play sport at agonistic level.
    Keep doing yoyo with my body.
    I just start a new diet, and is not being easy till now. But I lost 15 pound in 16 days and I starts to find easier exercise now with less weight on my knees and back.
    I thought I couldn’t handle it, but the results keep me motivated.
    And yes is not just about the weight, eating healthier is really changing the way my mind and body approach the day.

    • I’m so glad that you are eating healthier, losing weight and feeling better. 😀

      Yes, diets are tricky. The yo-yo-ing often occurs because after losing weight on a diet, we typically go back to eating the way we used to. Many people actually put on more weight than they lost. How frustrating! That’s why it might be more helpful to change your eating habits. Making small changes, little by little until you eventually limit, or even rid yourself of those foods that are getting in the way of you achieving your goals.

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