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Going My Own Way: Rice

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog post titled "Making Your Own Success Story". It was basically about listening to advice about health, but making your own decisions.

I'm doing that with advice about rice.

For the longest time, diet advice about rice put it into the category of evil processed grains. Evil carbs. Processed grains/carbs were to be avoided at all costs. White rice should be replaced with brown rice or wild rice. I'm sure dietitians have very good reasons for this, and I don't doubt this may be good advice. However, 4 billion Asians eat white rice 3 times a day, every day for their entire lives, and they have the lowest incidences of diabetes, heart disease and cancer in the world. There's more to the equation.

I grew up in an Asian household. My family ate the "worst" kind of rice - the short grain white rice. Cue the evil music. DUN-Dun-dun!

My mom and I were skinny. We ate big scoops of it everyday for lunch and dinner. Sometimes two scoops. So eating white rice definitely wasn't causation and sole contributor for weight gain.

I gained weight when I stopped eating white rice, and other healthy home cooked foods. I gained weight when I ate fast food and chain restaurants everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Restaurant meals use a lot of oils, fats, sodium and sugar to make flavor.

For many years, I tried replacing brown rice for my favored white rice. I bought both, and alternated. I love wild rice, but due to its fibrous nature, it is not suitable for accompaniment for all dishes, particularly Asian dishes. You know why Asians can eat rice with chopsticks? It gets sticky. Wild rice does not get sticky. I love making wild rice pilaf to go with my steaks, but I need sticky rice for Korean kalbi, Thai chicken, etc.

So I'm going to make an admittance about brown rice. I don't like it. I don't hate it, though. My fiance doesn't like it either. We would eat it if that's all we had. I don't get excited about making or eating brown rice. I just think, "Oh, brown rice". It has a very grainy edge to it, and it doesn't blend well with other flavors. I don't get excited about it like I do when making lemon-cardamom jasmine rice. "YAY we're having jasmine rice tonight!" My mouth waters at the thought.

So after these last few cups of brown rice are gone, I will not be buying it again. I'll still keep buying wild rice - baked wild rice with chicken broth is one of my favorites. We bought a 24lb bag of jasmine rice this past weekend, which was met with much rejoicing, and shares a cherished spot in our pantry. Welcome home, jasmine!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EILEENV3 9/16/2010 6:11AM

    I'll admit to liking all kinds of rice. Bismanti and Jasmine are my favorites.

There have been times in my life when I've been Macrobiotic, later have tried Ayurvedic, and later still have done a diet based on blood type. The thing in common with these diets is the concept that not every food is good or bad for everyone. There is no universal food list.

When I was Macrobiotic, I lost weight--over 20 pounds. When I was serious about eating based on my blood type, I also lost weight again (the same 20 pounds I had gained back when I ate whatever). The diets were very different but with both I was healthy.

Comment edited on: 9/16/2010 6:25:10 AM

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VHALKYRIE 9/15/2010 7:05PM

    SHRINKINGSIMONE: Congrats on your 90lb weight loss!!!


I'm like you. I only eat half a sandwich now, not a full one. Funny, I really like multi-grain and rye bread, but I do not like brown rice. :(

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HEALTHYASHLEY 9/15/2010 7:05PM

    My fiance is Colombian and he eats rice 3 times a day and so do his whole family. Not one of them gained weight until they moved to the US. I totally agree with you that white rice isn't evil and asian food is just wrong without it. Takeout and fast food really are to blame as well as a largely sedentary lifestyle. Great blog!

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JUST_SIMONE 9/15/2010 6:56PM

    I admit that I don't care for brown rice either. I've got several packages of brown rice and wild rice that often get passed up in favor of good ol' white rice. I have to agree with ARCHIMEDESII--it's not the rice (or potato, or pasta) that makes people fat, it's portion control and what we heap on top. Rice, pasta and potatoes have been part of my diet for the past year and a half, and I've managed to lose 90 pounds (as of my peek at the scale this morning!). And bread too, but my sandwiches now only have once slice of bread instead of two.

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VHALKYRIE 9/15/2010 6:29PM

    CRAUDI: You're right. If you already have diabetes, then I could see why brown rice would be necessary. I hope it won't be an issue for me one day. :(

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CRAUDI 9/15/2010 6:15PM

    My grandmother is Japanese, and not eating white rice is so difficult sometimes! Brown rice really can't replace white rice in Asian recipes. But you're right, it's a good side dish to so many other things. I've noticed that quinoa is sort of like sticky rice, chopped up a little bit...so I've been trying to eat that with my Japanese food more often.

My grandmother has diabetes, and I definitely blame the fact that she moved to the U.S. after marrying my grandpa and started eating the Western diet. Unfortunately, now white rice makes her blood sugar shoot through the roof! :(

But sometimes you just need to get back to your roots. And sometimes nothing can satisfy like a good bowl of white rice. :)

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ARCHIMEDESII 9/15/2010 10:26AM

    I've never tried jasmine rice. I may have to try it some time. it sounds yummy.

You know, along with white rice, pasta is another so called no no food. Everyone says you shouldn't eat pasta because you'll get fat. Guess what, Italians have been eating pasta every day for centuries. they do NOT have the obesity problem they have here in the US. They eat pasta.

Well, I lost weight and have kept it off. I eat pasta !! I even eat potatoes. Potatoes are yet another food that caused the American waistline to expand exponentially. Eating a baked potato did not make Americans fat. What made them fat was the extra sour cream, butter, gravy, etc... !! There is absolutely nothing wrong with a baked potato and maybe one pat of butter.

Eating rice, pasta and potatoes do not make people fat IF they eat them in moderation !! The problem is that the portions have just gotten out of control. People don't eat a cup of rice like Asians do. They eat massive plates of rice. So, it's not a wonder they are gaining weight !!

Anyway, I agree... rice didn't make people fat. Eating crap is what made people fat. but, that's just my own personal opinion. ;)

I'm going to look into trying the jasmine rice.

yum.... new recipe.

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TAMPABOOKWORM 9/15/2010 9:43AM

    Love love love jasmine rice! I married into an Asian family and have eaten white rice (or jasmine) at least once a day for the last 15 years. Trying to cut it out of my diet has been torture as I despise brown rice! emoticon

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    Mmmm, jasmine rice. I am so going to make some right now!

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My Changed Identity

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

When I was obese, it used to kill me when friends would say, "You're beautiful, just the way you are. You don't need to change." It killed me because it wasn't true. I needed a change. Sure my carefree approach to life is always the same, but I was not the same person. I didn't have confidence in myself.

I was a caged bird. I didn't walk, run, bike, hike, swim, etc, etc. I wanted to do all those things. I couldn't. My feet and knees hurt from the strain the extra weight put on them. My muscles and heart weren't strong enough. I couldn't go very far without overextending my abilities. It was embarrassing and discouraging. It was easier to give up and say, "I'll do it tomorrow".

One day, something inside of me just snapped. I was going to do it, whether I 'wanted to' or not. Whether it was hard or not. Some inner Jillian Michaels was kicking my motivation telling me, "I don't care if it's hard! You're going to do it! Now get up and do it!"

I got on my bike and headed to this hill that was my Mt Everest. I couldn't ride up it. I thought it was impossible, even though I had seen many other people ride it no problem. I didn't care what anyone thought. I was getting up that hill even though I had to get off and walk it. I didn't care if anyone laughed at the fat girl who was too out of shape to ride it (no one did). I did it every day. I walked my bike up the hill every day. How long? I have no idea. I wasn't keeping count. I was doing it for however long it took. I was doing it because it was too hard for me, not because it was easy.

Then one day, I thought I'd try to stay on my bike and peddle to the top. I made it! Sure I had to get off and catch my breath once I got to the top, but I did the 'impossible'. At least, in my mind. After that moment, there were no limits. I've climbed high in the mountains and dove deep in the ocean since then.

It's interesting to see the difference in my identity, and how friends perceive me. The old me was known as the nice, quiet, shy girl. The cute girl that could stand to lose a few pounds (ugh). The girl that played computer games all day, and didn't do much else. Friends told me that I needed to 'get a life', 'enjoy the outdoors', etc.

I'm still occasionally surprised by my new identity, especially my new friends who didn't know me the way I was. I'm now described as assertive, not shy. I told some friends that I was thinking about joining a yoga or pilates class, and asked for their opinion. My one friend said, "You're a hardcore hiker/mountain biker, right? I think you'd like pilates, it's more intense than yoga. It's serious!" I laughed out loud in shock. The computer geek is now the hardcore hiker/mountain biker, who would enjoy a serious butt kicking workout!

I can't say I mind the description at all.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TURBOAMIE 9/14/2010 11:06AM

    sweet! I had someone say to me "you workout a lot so that should be easy for you". I do? I workout a lot? Oh yeah, I do!!

Cheers to the new you!

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Gotta Find the Time this Week

Monday, September 13, 2010

Last week was a bad week in terms of my fitness goals. I'm trying to wrap up a project at work, but of course, as it gets closer to the end of the project, I start finding other problems that need to get fixed.

So I put in a lot of overtime last week. Typical for overtime weeks, I didn't make it to the gym once. I was exhausted all last week. I just worked a lot, ate a lot, and didn't get much sleep.

This week doesn't look a lot different, but with only so many hours in a day, something has to give. I'm going to have to find 30 minutes of personal time somewhere. I know that exercise will help relieve the stress and mental fatigue, so I've just got to do it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EILEENV3 9/13/2010 1:15PM

    Good luck. Try using the Spark Exercise video's when you can fit them in at home. you don't have to do 30 min. all at once, 10 min here & there will make a difference.

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55WALKER 9/13/2010 8:20AM

    This is my struggle of the week too, so I challenge you to accomplish it!

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My Menu for the Week

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One of the most important things I do to eat healthy, nutritious meals at home is to plan my week's menu ahead of time. I usually do a big shopping trip on the weekends, then a few smaller trips during the week to fill in the gaps. I watch a lot of Food TV, so I try to pick up ideas on how to run my kitchen like a professional restaurant. I LOVE Iron Chef and Iron Chef America for this.

On Sunday's, I'm my own sous chef as I chop green onions, celery, onions, and carrots and put them into containers. I marinade meats and prep sauces. During the week, I only have to do minor chopping, and for the most part, I just toss things in a saute pan and go.

We had some leftover cherry tomatoes that we didn't eat last week that were starting to wrinkle. They weren't bad, and didn't have any mold on them. I washed them, put them in a blender, and blended until a smooth sauce. I put in a pan with onions, bell peppers, garlic, basil and oregano. I now have a base tomato sauce that I can use for a couple of different things.

This weeks menu will go something like this:

Monday - Lasagna with meat sauce. I bought a Le Creuset terrine that is the perfect size for making a mini 4 serving lasagna for my SO and I. Will use the base tomato sauce.

Tuesday - Korean Kalbi. I marinated some short ribs in a kalbi marinade made from soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, and green onions. I'll grill them on the BBQ. One of my favorite dishes!

Wednesday - Moussaka. I don't have any ground lamb, but I have ground beef and ground pork. I'll also use the leftover tomato sauce base, and make a bechamel sauce. I can make a small 4 serving version of this in my terrine.

Thursday - Either fish curry or coconut milk marinated chicken with jasmine rice. I'm not sure which yet.

Friday - Pay day, and date night! We'll enjoy an evening out!

Saturday/Sunday - No idea what our plans are for the weekend, so it's impossible to predict yet.

How do you plan out your weekly menus? Have you found that planning ahead keeps you focused, or do you find it too rigid?

I find that it keeps me focused, but I do plan some flexibility into my menus. Sometimes schedules don't always fit. This is why I love marinades. If I don't feel like cooking on Tuesday, then if it marinades one more day, it just gets tastier!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JILLWILSON2102 9/13/2010 3:01PM

    Sounds like I need to come to your house for dinner. I am not that organized but envy your kitchen!!

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Making Your Own Success Story

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What works for one person, may not work for another.

I'm a plate cleaner. I was taught to eat everything on my plate, else I'll suffer the wrath of Sally Struthers and starving children in Africa. I can't live with that kind of guilt. I can't disappoint Sally.

It's nearly impossible for me not to scrub every morsel off my plate. When going to restaurants, I try my best. I'll cut everything on my plate in half. However, if the server is slow getting a box back to me, I'll continue to nibble at it. And nibble. And nibble. Where is that darn box? Nibble, nibble.

If I'm ever a guest at your house, please, do me a favor. Don't pile huge gobs of food on my plate. I will eat every morsel, whether I'm already stuffed or not. It is simply rude for me not to. I was taught that if you are served food, that it is a sign of respect that you enjoyed it to eat all of it. Not to eat all of it is an insult to the host. To leave food left on the plate means that you did not enjoy the meal. It was part of my upbringing and values. My future mother-in-law once made a Christmas turkey stuffing that had a VERY strong liver taste. It was a bit odd. I ate it all anyway, even though my fiance insisted that I didn't have to.

If I eat all the food on my plate, then I'm safe. I never learned to go back for seconds. It's just that darn main course plate I've got to worry about.

I've learned not to fight this. It is pointless for me to try. Instead, I've learned to work *with* it. When going to buffets, I put little portions of food on my plate. First, I had to learn what a proper portion size is. I had to learn how to properly balance my meals with protein, carbs, and fat. I learned to eat large portions of veggies and small portions of meat. If I only put enough food to satisfy me, then I can clean off my plate and still stay within my calorie budget - guilt free. I rarely go back for seconds, so this works for me.

If you are someone that can't resist seconds, then it's best to avoid buffets. There are some situations where you can't avoid an all-you-can-eat, like weddings. In that case, I suggest learning to live with your vices in ways that work for you. Fill up on a full plate of salads or veggies. Have a cup of broth based soup. Then go back for your main course plate with a balance of more veggies, protein and carbs. Chances are, you'll be plenty full.

Some dieting 'rules' may need a little a little bending.

"Never eat after 7PM." If you're someone that always feels hungry after 7PM, then just adjust your calorie totals so you can have a filling snack at that time. There's lots of options for an approximately 200 calorie snack. Half a peanut butter sandwich; half a grilled cheese sandwich; a banana; yogurt and cereal; cheese and crackers; peanut butter and apple. What's your favorite?

"Don't eat carbs at dinner." A friend of mine lost a lot of weight. When you lose a lot of weight, you inevitably get asked, "What's your secret? How did you do it?" She said she did it by not eating carbs at dinner. I find that strange, but hey. If it worked for her, then great. Personally, I can't imagine a steak without mashed potatoes. I just eat a lot less of it then I used to.

"Don't snack between meals." I snack all day long. I simply could not go between breakfast to lunch, lunch to dinner without a snack. No sweat, as long as it's not junk. If I have craving for salty food, I eat unbuttered popcorn - not potato chips. Mindless snacking can lead to weight gain...unless it's mindless snacking on grapes. Then it helps fill your fruit servings!

"Don't eat bananas, coconut, mangos, or pineapple". Ok. I don't know who made this rule, but my house would be a landmine for them. It is true that tropical fruits have higher fat/sugar/calorie content than apples, oranges or grapes. The world's obesity problem is NOT due to eating too many bananas, coconuts, mangos, or pineapples. If you like them, eat them. I swear to you, a banana offers you nutrition in return for the calories. A Snickers bar only offers a sugar high, insulin spike, and plaque on your teeth. You get a whole lot of calories, and not a lot of nutrition.

"No chocolate" "I can't live without chocolate!" I hear ya. Don't fight it, sisters and brothers! Chocolate IS good for you! Become friends with dark chocolate. If it tastes too bitter for you, then try some with 62% cocoa. You'll get a strong taste of chocolate, but a bit creamier. And way better for you than that Snickers.

"No Snickers." "I can't live without Snickers!" Ok, ok. I hear ya there too. I'm not here to preach the evils of Snickers. I'm not going to hold protest signs that say, "NO MORE SNICKERS!". Snickers is my favorite candy bar. I used to buy bags of them at the supermarket. Know what? One day I realized just because it's my favorite doesn't mean that I need to have one every day. I realized that buying a bag of Snickers every week meant that I would eat all of them during the week. I realized that there's no reason for me to have a bag of Snickers in my house. I quit buying it. There were days when I had a horrible, life consuming, urge for Snickers. I had to get up from the couch and walk to the convenience store to get one. Over time, my urges for Snickers started to fade, and I went to the convenience store less and less. While Snickers is still my favorite candy bar, I can't tell you when was the last time I had one.

So moral of the story, listen to the advice you are given. There's a lot of wisdom to be had from success stories. Lots of them will be like the examples given above, like my friend who swears off carbs for dinner. I believe very strongly in learning from others, especially from those who have succeeded. If you want to be healthy, learn from healthy people.

In the end, your success story may be similar, but slightly different than someone else's. YOU have to make your own success story. YOU have to make your own success plan. YOU have to figure out how to work with your habits, or change them.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EILEENV3 9/12/2010 1:15PM

    Thank you for the great blog.

I think the eat after 7 may have come from an Oprah show along time ago. I remember seeing her with her trainer saying that that had made a difference for her.

I also have trouble with leaving food. Early training has such a strong hold on us.

I try to eat a lot of fruits & veggies -- some with every meal and most snacks. They have carbs. I may do a meal without bread, potatoes, or rice, but no way will I do a meal without carbs.

I'm doing a lot better with how much food I eat with buffets & Pot Lucks since I started watching my calories. Yesterday, at a Pot Luck, I only had one plateful with small portions of food for the main course. However, I will admit to getting two items for my desert course. A year ago, I would have done a second plate of main meal items in addition to what I did. Also, the portions for everything would have been bigger.

After supper snacking is my challenge. With watching calories, I have cut down some. I do like to use 100 calorie portioned food. Even though I know I pay more, I eat less. When I retire and have more time, I will create my own.

Comment edited on: 9/12/2010 1:30:41 PM

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CARRIE1948 9/12/2010 8:18AM

    Doing what works for you is the secret to success.

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GAILSFITNESS 9/12/2010 6:50AM

  These are excellent points, all of them! not eating after a certain time, how funny when people go to bed at different times! being warned fruit is fattening (thus losing opportunity to experience something delicious that is nutritious, ...on and on, these false perceptions which preclude eating healthy. Eating too much of anything isn't healthy. Quantity is more a culprit than what's ingested.

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VHALKYRIE 9/12/2010 12:55AM

    55WALKER: I can't eat dinner too close to bedtime, this part is true for me. Eating a full meal within a couple hours of bed will keep me up late, like tonight! LOL

But yeah, I don't know where the "Don't eat after 7" came from either. The same friend who said she didn't eat carbs at dinner told me this one, and I've seen it at various times on the message boards too.

I was inspired to write this blog post after seeing someone post this very thing. She said she just has to have a snack before bedtime. I'm just thinking, don't fight it, find a way to work with it. Especially in the beginning. In time, maybe you won't need that late night snack anymore, just like my Snickers urges went away. Or maybe it will be something you'll always have to do, like me and my plate cleaning upbringing. Either way, if it works, do it and make your own rules!


Comment edited on: 9/12/2010 12:59:36 AM

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VHALKYRIE 9/11/2010 11:33PM

    CCHELLEZ: Thanks for the tip! I never thought to ask for the To-Go box when ordering.

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55WALKER 9/11/2010 11:32PM

    Listen, contemplate, adjust, and decide for ourselves. That works for me! Thanks.

I've always wondered about that "don't eat after 7" rule. Did someone intend to say "don't eat too close to bedtime" and it got distorted? I mean, what schedule were they on? Some people go to bed at 6 or 7 and some people go to bed at midnight or later. So what does "7" have to do with the price of eggs in India?

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CCHELLEZ 9/11/2010 11:12PM

  When I know the portions at a restaurant are going to be too much for my intended intake, I ask for a to-go-container at the time I order my meal. I pack what I want to take home, and enjoy what's left on my plate. SparkPeople has really helped me regulate my intake by giving me the tools to learn the calorie content of a cup of this or ounce of that.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

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