How can I become more healthy and fit?
October 22, 2012 4:49 PM   Subscribe

I've never eaten too healthy in my life. I feel like it's taking a toll on my body and my mood at a relatively young age. More details inside. (long and some things about my past)

I'm a 23 year old woman, graduated from college, working part time. Just a lil about myself. I'm adopted from a different country. I grew up in the U.S. with my mother and father. From a young age, I was always very very skinny...and also a picky eater. Not once do I remember eating anything green. My parents were so worried about my weight. They actually let me have spaghetti every night for dinner, because if there wasn't something I liked then I would go without food. Or I would just eat candy.

I remember the first time I had pizza I was in 4th grade. I have never ever eaten broccoli in my life.My parents were worried that I was bulimic or anorexic, which I wasn't. The thought of throwing up freaks me out and back then I didn't realize how skinny I was. In high school, I went on birth control because my periods were so heavy and cramping was way too bad I couldn't go to school. The birth control helped me with my periods but I started to gain weight.

In about a year and a half I gained about 50 lbs. A professional I was seeing told me in a nice way that they were worried about me. So I started to do exercises on Comcast T.V and right about when I started to work out every night I got a full time job at a fast food place. I guess between working out and snacking every few hours at work, I lost 30 lbs. But basically all the fat I had didn't seem to come off...I'm still pudgy in a few areas.

This all happened about 3 years ago. And I've kept the weight off. Everyone that sees me freaks out cause I lost 30 lbs, but I still feel big. It is hard being told I am a good weight, because mostly I am the only one who sees me naked. I want to tone up. It's hard to tell I am a bit pudgy when I am in clothes. Which works fine for me, but I wish I looked the same naked, basically!Haha.

Here's my problem. I am still a picky eater. I don't eat salad, and the one time I tried it was hard to get down. I had it with ranch dressing and forced myself to eat some, but still wasn't satisfied. Later on that night my stomach feel really bad and I ended up throwing the salad back up. I doubt there was anything wrong with the salad, but I feel like my body just rejected it. I drink soda and was addicted to lemonade, but now I have told the person I live with to stop buying it cause we shared it and they were cool with that, so lemonade is out of the picture. I do, have, and will drink water, but I feel like I get a headache without anything sugary for me. Also while I never drank alcohol that much, I have decided not to drink anymore at all.

Here's a list of things I do eat that are healthy, but I feel like I don't eat them enough:
Cantelope (hardly)
Strawberries (hardly)
Bananas(at least 3 times a week)
Eggs (twice a week for breakfast, scrambled)

For about a month I went to the gym, 5 times a week, for an hour and a half, lifted weights, cardio, and sit ups for about 10 minutes, and I was having a smoothie after I got back from the gym. I would blend raspberries, blueberries with yogurt and silk milk. I didn't put any supplements in my smoothie because I feel like that is cheating mostly. I stopped that because one day my roommate broke the smoothie machine, and I've been slacking on getting one.

Here's a list of things I eat too much...
Pasta (4+ times a week) with Alfredo,marinara sauce, any kind of sauce and sometimes just with butter. At places like Noodles and Company or Friday's with the Cajun shrimp.
Toast with Reese's peanut butter for breakfast everyday. Except on weekends.
Chips...potato chips mostly maybe once a week. starbursts and skittles. Maybe twice a week. least twice a week and more then two slices.
Chicken...maybe once or twice a month, but not a lot of it.

It's pretty horrible. But even though I am not gaining weight rapidly, I am getting more pudgy around my waist, and my arms are becoming flabby. I'm 5'4 and 120-125 lbs depending on how much weight I gain or lose without even trying. I don't go to the gym anymore...I used to everyday for a month, but I stopped.

My boyfriend eats worse than me, but he doesn't gain anything at all. So when him and I hang out which is only like twice a week, we always go out to eat. I feel bad asking him to buy healthy food and I'm already weird about money and I feel like a lot of healthy meals are WAYYYY too expensive. I've looked around online for meals, but feel like if I did make any I wouldn't like them or would need to go out any buy too much stuff, and what if I don't like what I buy? Just a waste of money.

The worst part was after a weekend with my boyfriend the next day I just felt like crap. I felt really tired and just down in the dumps and wasn't acting normal. I just felt like something was off in my body. I had to tell my roommate not to buy anything candy wise, or cookie wise, or any soda, which they had no problem with and they said if they did they would keep it in their room and not tell me. I knew something was off because I was driving to a friends and realized I was going 40 mph on a 60 mph road. I wasn't dehydrated because I had been drinking water with all the crappy meals we had that weekend.

So I guess my question is what are some easy foods to make, buy, and that are no so expensive? How can I get over my picky food eating? I did go to a counselor when I was 14 because my parents were scared I had an eating disorder. I hate my pudge, but I want to eat better! Not like a health freak, and I never want to go back to being overly skinny, but I want to tone up and instead of fat, I want muscle. I'm not willing to take weight lose supplements because I take medicine that would interfere with that. I also feel like since I am eating crappy I have less energy to go to the gym...Any motivation or words of advice on food, getting over pickiness, and exercises would be very helpful.
posted by Autumn89 to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
You need to go to a doctor if you're having experiences like what you're describing. There are bigger issues going on here than needing to "eat healthy", which is a vague and unachievable goal until you figure out what you are trying to fix. You will not be able to fix your body image by "trying harder" and your health problems will not magically disappear by eating more cantaloupe. You have a BMI of approximately 21, which is well-within normal body weight. Based solely on that, you do not need to lose weight. The fact that you are having health issues that exist despite being normal weight indicates to me you need medical attention, not Ask Metafilter's attention.
posted by saeculorum at 4:59 PM on October 22, 2012

Best answer: One possibility is a sensory processing disorder; there's a self-test here that might be helpful. If this sounds familiar, working with an occupational therapist could be helpful. Sharon Heller's Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight also has some helpful coping strategies.
posted by pie ninja at 5:07 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Some of what you write makes it sound like you're at high risk for an eating disorder. But as someone who's about two inches taller and about 10 pounds heavier than you, so probably with a similar body composition, I get where you're coming from on the body image stuff. I am a healthy weight and size, but would still be healthy if I lost 10 pounds, and wouldn't mind looking 10 pounds skinnier (or the same weight with more muscle and less jiggles). That said, trying to tackle weight loss and healthy eating at the same time is hard, and since you ARE a healthy weight I think you should focus on the food first. If you decide to lose weight later that's fine, within reason, but first try to get some healthy eating habits down.

Question: How much of your limited food experience is because you're still picky? How much is because you're just not familiar with what is out there? Or is there a bit of both going on -- perhaps you're afraid to explore new food because you don't know what is out there?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 5:10 PM on October 22, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks saeculorum for your input. I want to gain muscle I would lose some fat, but replace it with muslce, which would make me weigh more..which is fine with me.
And thanks pie ninja for the book suggestion. I actually do like to read.
posted by Autumn89 at 5:11 PM on October 22, 2012

Response by poster: Croutonsupafreak- I think it is a bit of both! I have been out to places with friends and at friends houses and will eat some new things, but nothing I have ever really liked. I do also kind of blame my parents. They let me have anything I wanted when I was younger, and they did buy me a lot of candy. I feel like they were too worried about me not eating at all, then having me eat pasta every night for dinner. And now the people I am with, don't eat that much healthy either.
posted by Autumn89 at 5:14 PM on October 22, 2012

Best answer: Have you ever had a physical? I don't think you need to lose weight or go to the gym, I think you need to have a full physical with bloodwork and get a referral to see a nutritionist or dietitian. There are professionals who are trained to help you learn how to eat a healthy diet and fit it into your lifestyle.

Categorizing foods as "healthy" or "unhealthy" and trying to eat as many of the "healthy" foods as possible is not how you create a healthy diet, and I honestly think you need the assistance of a professional to learn the basics. It's nothing to be ashamed of, many adults are never taught how to eat a balanced diet, but you should start now and get help from a qualified expert.
posted by telegraph at 5:19 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It just seems like ton of carbs to me. If I ate like that I'd feel terrible all the time. It also seems like you might be reliant on sugar to the point of mild addiction. saeculorum (and others) may be right and you may have bigger concerns than simply diet, but in the interest of trying to give an answer:

What I'd suggest you do is gradually reduce the carbs you eat in favor of protein and fat. I'd also limit your sugar intake and gradually switch from soda to anything else.

Try an experiment where you drink nothing but water and unsweetened tea or coffee all day (and at least 4 glasses of water), move your carbs (pizza, pasta, bread) to whole grains, try to eat an amount of protein (chicken, fish, shrimp, eggs) equal to the size of a deck of cards per day, and try your best to eat one fruit or vegetable everyday. I'd also switch to a peanut butter with no added sugar. It's not perfect but any of these small changes should help you feel better without a drastic diet change.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:20 PM on October 22, 2012

Best answer: Your question is pretty negative about yourself.

To the part I can try to answer: what are some easy foods to make, buy, and that are no so expensive?

Cooking, once you figure out that you don't need recipes, is truly really easy. You just combine things you like (or things you like with one thing you're questioning). Recipes can be stressful - who wants to buy a $10 jar of rare capers you don't regularly eat for an untested recipe? If you use recipes at all, use them to find general cooking times and procedures and then do whatever you want with what you already have.

So say I have some mushrooms, broccoli, eggs, rice, flour, spices and oils in my house. I could make a fried rice, I could make a sauteed veg dish, I could make fritters, I could eat the mushrooms and broccoli raw, etc.

Farmers' markets are great for cheap produce. This past Saturday, I bought sweet corn, radishes, summer squash, satsuma, and skim milk at the market. Then I came home and, never having done it before and without a recipe, I boiled the sweet corn in water and skim milk and added sauteed radish and summer squash and spices and made a soup. It was delicious. While I cooked, I looked up general recipes for making soup just to check my instincts and found out that apparently you shouldn't add milk until the end. Whatever, mine came out fine. And then I ate a satsuma for dessert.
posted by vegartanipla at 5:36 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think her main goal is to feel healthier. I definitely notice that when I'm eating more nutritiously, I have more energy and am in a better state of mind, so I feel like I understand her motivation (correct me if I'm off track). I noticed you are already doing some things that have really helped me a lot like drinking more water and not keeping certain junk foods around. I'm wondering if perhaps in regards to your gym routine, if you were attempting to do too much. Did you enjoy it or dread it?

In regards to picky eating, I'm not sure if my advice will be doable, depending on how severe of a picky eater you are, but I can let you know what works for me. A lot of it is based upon the idea that trying a food once is not really sufficient to determine if you truly like it, so if a food is not completely offensive and you just aren't sure about it, it might be worth it to keep it in your rotation for awhile and then evaluate after a couple months if you've adjusted to it. I think some foods just take awhile to get used to and there are many foods that I only like when they are prepared certain ways. A lot of this just takes some time experimenting.

For example, I was always really frustrated that I could not stand uncooked tomatoes. So just this year, I finally had the idea to try eating them with hummus, which was something I enjoyed. After awhile I got used to the taste with the hummus and was ready to start eating them on their own. I also want to point out that hummus was something I did not enjoy the first time I ate it but I gave myself a couple more chances and was able to adjust to it.

Salad was actually a really hard one for me. I never ate salad by choice until my senior year of high school. I would usually try to eat some side salad with maybe ranch dressing, like you said, and did not enjoy it at all. Then I became determined to make myself a salad eater and set a goal to eat salad x times a month. I never really fell in love with salad but now I eat it fairly regularly and in the interest of fulfilling my goal, I discovered ways to make it more palatable. For example, I learned that if I have meat, beans, fruit or nuts in my salad I enjoy it a lot more. There are lots of different dressings you can use. I still don't like ranch and am more likely to pick a vinaigrette. Maybe you would enjoy something sweeter like raspberry vinaigrette? The same thing goes for the lettuce. If you don't like iceberg (or whatever you tried), you can always try a different leaf.

I think you'll have the most success though if you focus on making small changes. Can you change up some of the things you regularly eat, just slightly, to incorporate (more) vegetables? For example, find a pasta dish with vegetables mixed in. I just wanted to offer you some encouragement because I know changing up what you eat can be hard. Honestly, if I ate what appealed to me most for every meal, I would eat mostly peanut butter sandwiches but like you, I've noticed that I'm more energetic and generally feel better when I make an effort to eat more balanced meals and I have found it ultimately very satisfying to be able to start eating foods I had previously been unable to. A final trick I will use, is that I will make deals with myself or set goals. I might say, If you want to eat that peanut butter sandwich, that's fine, but you have to have a side of vegetables as well. This way I'm not depriving myself but I'm also able to keep my nutrient intake up.
posted by themoonfromthesea at 6:00 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have been were you are. I felt nauseous when I tried new vegetables (never puked it up tho, but really wanted to.) Got headaches when I didn't have soda or eat sugar, it was miserable. I also smoked like a chimney. I was 21-23 during this time.

Basically, you have to start out with small changes and goals. Also - stop eating like your boyfriend, his metabolism is higher, your's isn't. Been there, done that. What I did was every time boyfriend wants food and I'm not really hungry, I eat fruit. We still share a meal, but it's a better choice for me than another slice of pizza.

I would start by looking up veggie side recipes and picking on that looked good to me. My hands down absolute favorite is steamed broccoli with lemon or lime juice on it. Steam for 8-10 minutes, make sure all the broccoli is cooked and dump some lemon juice on it. As I've cleaned up my diet, I don't get queasy when I eat veggies and salads. Realize salad doesn't have to be iceberg lettuce and ranch! It can be spinach, with strawberries, maybe a bit of cheese and some nuts with a balsamic vinaigrette.

For me, cooking doesn't come naturally and if I don't have a recipe, it's not happening in an edible way. This websitee cheap,healthy,good is a godsend. This recipe is also my favorite of all time and it's super fast, and super easy. My bf will eat all of this if I let him.

Nerdfitness is also a great website to help you along. It helps with motivation and sticking with it during a suck ass day. It's going to be a process. Most of my changes I started this past January, and I've lost 15lbs with a better diet and exercise. So it's taken almost year to do this but it totally worth it.
posted by Attackpanda at 6:00 PM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

I do, have, and will drink water, but I feel like I get a headache without anything sugary for me.

I'll second those who say you should visit a doctor and get a physical if you can, mentioning this issue specifically. My SIL had similar feelings and turned out to have blood sugar issues that needed attention.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:11 PM on October 22, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the reply all of you. And as far as working out goes I do sometimes get into this work out mode and do enjoy working out. I used to get up 5 times a week at 9 A.M. and go to the gym with my friend. Like I said it worked for a month, but this was while I was in college still, so I liked to keep my day busy, and since school was in the afternoon I'd go in the morning. Now I work in the morning and rest during the evening. I feel like eating better would give me more motivation to work out. Also working out made me a happier person in general, and was something to prevent the "pudginess" I now have.

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. I feel good because I can actually eat tomatoes,but only cooked one, so maybe I will try to eat the uncooked tomatoes too...
posted by Autumn89 at 6:23 PM on October 22, 2012

Yes, I agree with the answer on small goals. Here are some examples of small goals:
- Change all soda to diet soda
- Trying sundried tomatoes (if you like cooked, sundried could be a good mid-way step)
- Make pasta at home instead of eating it out. Pasta meals at restaurants are much less healthy than what you'd make at home, they've got a ton more oil/butter/salt in them. Then you can switch to whole wheat pasta from regular pasta.
- Pick a new fruit and new vegetable that you want to like more and try to work it into meals. You can find great ways to sneak fruits and vegetables into your diet if you look at parenting websites for picky eating children (seriously! I am a reformed picky eater myself). A lot of the suggestions involve either cutting things up really tiny and mixing them into other things or blending them up. Get a new blender on Craigslist for cheap.
- Instead of trying to force yourself to eat a bowl of salad, try the components of salad. How about just carrots? How about carrots with peanut butter?

Also, you should look at your list of what you eat and consider that not all the things you've listed as your 'bad diet' are actually that bad. For example, peanut butter toast and chicken. You can definitely continue to eat these. Peanut butter is not 'bad'. For the toast, you can switch to multigrain or wheat bread if you're not currently eating that. Chicken is also not a problem - it is a part of a healthy diet. It is a lean white meat and you can really eat as much of it as you'd like - far more important than the chicken itself is what you're eating it with or in. Focus in on cutting things like candy, potato chips, and regular soda out of your diet completely.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:25 PM on October 22, 2012

I also wanted to add: when I was just a little bit younger than you in college I survived on ramen noodles, peanut butter and jelly, and macaroni and cheese. I would not eat any 'ethnic food'. I started hanging out with people who loved food and loved to cook who showed me the right things to try and just kept on trying things. Sometimes you have to try things different ways and paired/mixed with things you like, to get used to them and then you can branch out with them on their own. Now it is 10 years later and I eat quite a variety of fruits and vegetables. I focus on the ones I like but I am still pushing myself to try more things. I now enjoy many kinds of sushi, Indian/Thai/Korean food, and other ethnic foods I used to refuse to taste (I almost threw up the first several times I tried sushi but I got past it and now I love it). It has really broadened what I can do when eating out with friends and family, and I feel way better physically too. So I know from experience - you can do this and it really will change your life!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:33 PM on October 22, 2012

Chicken? Chicken is not unhealthy.

Same with pasta, peanut butter, etc.

I eat significantly more candy than you do, and I would not consider myself "unhealthy," whatever that means.

Here are a few problems, though:

1. Reese's peanut butter is full of sugar. Eat unsweetened or low-sugar peanut butter. Peanut butter on a banana is a good, healthy snack that should keep you full in between meals.

2. Chicken and pasta are unhealthy if you eat out a lot, especially at chain restaurants. Do you know how to cook? Do you have access to a kitchen?

3. Even if you don't like salad, there are a lot of ways to cook vegetables. It's fall - roast some squash!

I hate my pudge, but I want to eat better! Not like a health freak, and I never want to go back to being overly skinny, but I want to tone up and instead of fat, I want muscle. I'm not willing to take weight lose supplements because I take medicine that would interfere with that. I also feel like since I am eating crappy I have less energy to go to the gym...Any motivation or words of advice on food, getting over pickiness, and exercises would be very helpful.

It doesn't really sound like your diet is the problem. Maybe it's part of the problem, but I think you're emotional issues around food and your body are tripping you up. The language you use to describe yourself if very negative.

For someone with body image issues, I'd suggest finding a physical activity that you enjoy outside the gym. The little calorie counters (which are mostly full of shit, by the way) can lead to obsessive thoughts. Can you go hiking? Ride a bike? Start couch to 5k? Dance? Find a form of exercise that you genuinely enjoy.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 7:42 PM on October 22, 2012

Response by poster: It's kind of hard to explain that I think food is the bigger issue here. I'm young, so if I did continue to eat the way I do I wouldn't gain a lot of weight for another few years. That is my whole point. It's not about being negative to me. I do have a little pudge, not the biggest, but sometimes my pants can feel tighter one week and looser the next, so I'm basing this all on facts. I'm MUCH better off now, then I was a few years ago when I weighed 30 lbs more and developing a double chin like some people said (and not in a rude way). I don't see anything wrong with trying to improve my body instead of eating unhealthy and trying to work out.

Also I heard that diet soda is way worse than regular soda.
posted by Autumn89 at 7:49 PM on October 22, 2012

Best answer: So I'm kind of a picky eater, too, and the thing you need to do is identify what, exactly, you're picky about.

For example, if you put a slice of tomato on anything, I will not eat it because I hate tomato. Only I don't, as it turns out, hate the actual taste of tomato. I will eat tomato sauce and tomato soup and ketchup and...well, you get the idea. What I hate is that kind of slimy, rubbery texture.

So I can avoid things with that kind of slimy/rubbery texture.

Likewise, I seem to have the gene where I taste the bitter in green plants much more intensely than normal people do. It's not that I object to lettuce on principle, it's pretty much just watery and crunchy, but then I get a load of OH GOD BITTER flooding my tastebuds.

Makes it much easier to pick and choose now that I know what to avoid (textures and bitter) rather than just EWW VEGETABLES.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:03 PM on October 22, 2012

I don't see anything wrong with trying to improve my body instead of eating unhealthy and trying to work out.

Yeah, sure. But you seem to have very vague, unhelpful ideas about eating healthily and working out. For example, you use the word "tone." You can't really tone your body the way that I suspect you think that you can. You can build muscle in specific places, and by building muscle you can increase your resting metabolism. You can lose fat all over your body, but you can't spot reduce.

You also use the words "healthy" and "unhealthy" as if they are some sort of dichotomy. I am very fit, healthy, thin person, and I drink somewhat regularly. You can be healthy, fit, and thin if you eat a snickers bar every now and then or have a few beers on the weekend. I think you need to learn more about nutrition and exercise, and you can start by asking your doctor for guidance.

I would definitely eat out a lot less, though. Cook meals with your boyfriend - easier on the wallet and a lot better for you. My dinner last week was cooked spinach, brown rice, and some sort of fish (I think it was Tilapia, but I honestly don't remember). But even homemade pizza will be better for you than almost anything you eat at a restaurant. Chain restaurants, especially, put so much junk in their food it's horrifying.

And diet soda is bad for you. Regular soda is bad for you. Stop drinking soda.

Start slow. It sounds like you went way too whole hog with the gym thing. Start with three times a week, maybe, for forty-five minutes. If you can keep that up, it's better for you in the long-run than go every day. If you don't have a base level fitness, you can really wear yourself out.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:22 PM on October 22, 2012

Best answer: First, go see a doctor. They're the best guide to your health.

But yeah, we come from different backgrounds, but I can relate to an extent. On one hand I'm from an "ethnic" culture and was exposed to a wide variety of food as a child, but on the other hand, when I immigrated, my mom didn't know anything about raising a child on her own and being in charge of the cooking (she used to have hired help), so I lived off pizza pops and cheese whiz. It was so gross. So what ended up happening was that I became a young adult that was "cultured" enough to appreciate almost all food (and I'm spoiled by the sushi options in Vancouver!) but I was crap at feeding myself and was genuinely unhealthy for a long time.

I'm near to the same age as you, and there's a wide range in how food-literate people are in our age. Some are foodies that grow their own tomatoes, make the most delicious healthy foods ever, and there's some that live off canned soup and cheap pizza. I've moved steadily to the former instead of the latter, and it was a loooong several year process even though I already appreciated most foods... it's the habits, food planning, and "taste" for healthy food that took a while.

Like others, I think healthy food is a spectrum, not a binary healthy vs. unhealthy. It's about the portion of how much you eat compared to what. And it's important to do it all gradually. Quitting things cold turkey never worked well for me. Here's my own health journey (of course, YMMV, especially if you have an eating disorder).

-I gave up soda (I used to drink soda daily) and lost my headaches. I drink as much or more alcohol than others, but it doesn't really affect me the way soda did.
-I gave up daily coffee and now mostly drink tea and the occasional coffee on weekends, which helped me focus on getting a better night's sleep instead of trying to get caffeine to do the heavy lifting, which used to result in energy crashes and excessive napping at odd hours. It was BAAAD. So glad I'm not addicted to coffee anymore.
-I started cooking for myself, which isn't easy for a broke student living by herself, but I found which ingredients were necessary and just cooked in bulk. You can cook up something really good with 5 ingredients or less, trust me. You just need good quality ingredients, not pricey ones necessary, but good quality and/or fresh. Always buy good cheese!
-I started liking salads. I realized that my family was just crap at preparing salads. Iceberg lettuce and thousand island dressing or ranch is so unappealing for me. It's just that I used to know only one kind of salad and I hated it, but when I got exposed to other salads, the world opened up to me. Heck, I'm planning to eat salads for lunch this week and enjoy it! I like spinach, mixed herbs, nuts, green onions, alfalfa sprouts in my salads. I also like to mix up the dressings. I can't stand ranch dressing, I am more of a vinaigrette person. Also, try putting fruits into your salad if you're more of a fruit person!
-I phased out super processed junk food for slightly healthier snacks. I went from super processed cheesy chips to yoghurt and fruit, edamame beans, peanuts, fruit by itself, healthier crackers. I still have a processed mac and cheese snack about once a month because you know, it won't kill me.
-I switched from having a very processed and meat-oriented diet to a more home-prepared and semi-vegetarian diet. It was a hard process but I decided to try it out, and it worked out well for me. I went through a rough year and a half where I hated ALL the lunches I prepared. Hated it. I didn't know what to do with broccoli other than eat it raw and dump it in a dip! Urgh, it tasted like boiled sock! Now after years of trial and error, I can make something in less than 5 minutes and be very tasty at the same time.
-Food started tasting different and BETTER as I switched to a less processed diet. I stopped needing as much seasoning or cheese or salt because I started just liking the flavour of a nice fresh vegetable. I feel like my taste buds became alive.

But yeah, good on you for thinking about your health now, you're further ahead than many other people. But take it slow and don't beat yourself up. It's a journey. Be patient and be kind to your body. Your body doesn't want change too quickly, just introduce things gradually.

Also regarding your exercising, go into it slowly, and maybe find something you're more passionate about? Dance? A sport? Combat? A community event? A Wii? It doesn't need to be "at the gym exercise"... it just needs to get you moving. I always have hated exercise until I found what I was passionate about, and man, did I get some muscles. Find something fun, and if it's fun enough for you to throw yourself into for at least 5 hours a week, the fit body will be a side effect. See physical activity as an opportunity to try out new things or go on adventures, don't look at it as a chore. The motivation flows easier that way.

I have tonnes of recipes, although I'm not sure if any are up your alley since I'm an adventurous very not picky semi-vegetarian. However, pastas and alfredo sauces are my comfort foods too. Me mail me if you want some recipes. But yes, how about just adding mushrooms and shrimp to an alfredo? Or sliced celery in a tomato-based pasta? Maybe vegetables and other foods will be more palatable that way.
posted by Hawk V at 2:42 AM on October 23, 2012

Best answer: Also, maybe try to go for a more natural/organic peanut butter (the kind that you have to stir). It'll have less sugar, but it'll be yummy and satisfying. Even store brand natural/organic peanut butter tastes really good to me.

You'll also find that once you reduce the amount of processed sugars in your system, you'll start realizing that whenever you crave something sweet, you're actually craving fruit. And sweetened snacks and stuff will start becoming too sweet for you. You'll also start appreciating things that are more tart or have a more subtle taste. I used to hate natural cherries, but now I love them. I also used to think that brown rice tasted like tree bark. I still love white rice, but I like brown rice more now, and with the added benefit that my energy level seems to be more constant throughout the day.

And if you have a sweet tooth, maybe just go for some dark chocolate? Eat rich high quality foods, it'll actually reduce your cravings. Instead of Reese's peanut butter, have slices of banana on your toast with natural peanut butter, and maybe sprinkle in some dark chocolate for a treat once in a while, and it would be especially tasty if you had a sandwich press. Yum! Now I'm starting to wish I had some bananas...
posted by Hawk V at 2:53 AM on October 23, 2012

I know people with food issues who like The Fresh 20, which puts together well-rounded daily meal plans and shopping lists for $5 a month. Haven't tested it myself, but you might find it helpful.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:56 AM on October 23, 2012

Honestly, one of the best things I did personally is to simply round up all the essential nutrients as supplements - whey protein, potassium (citrate was the best, tastes ok and doesn't come with extras like gluconate), iron, everything in the RDIs as well as biotin and leutine (sp?).

Only the essential nutrients. A lot came from life brand chewable multivitamin. Then divide a bit more than the AI for each one into 5 parts or so - you can't just eat them all in the morning I found, that doesn't work - and add some crackers.

That was my base, for about 3 months. And I drank just water otherwise, filtered brita is a lot tastier.

And then *don't worry*. It's cheap, ultra convenient, and I didn't feel deprived if I didn't eat any particular meal. It gave me the freedom to miss meals, which meant freedom to experiment and try all kinds of new things, focusing on agricultural not processed foods and produce in particular. Also, I lost a lot of weight by just not bothering to eat, basically.
I found my impatience regarding learning how to cook was much reduced as I sort of liked being around food more.

It was so handy I use it in a modified form about 6 months later now, added creatine which helps sustain and improve muscle mass (20g per day again divided by 5 into separate doses). Now I combine the whey, potassium, 15 g ground chia ( for ALA) and of powdered freeze dried parsley (I just computed that it was a food that was easy to add and relatively nutrient dense and low cost) and creatine into a drink mix, and append the other supplements in pill form (fish oil for epa/dha (7 with 180 mg dha and 120 epa I think each), multivitamin, choline, iron, calcium and magnesium and zinc plus sunflower seeds for LA though those aren't needed much as LA is pretty abundant in food and I'm switching to safflower oil on vegetables soon). I could . If I'm not eating anything else, which is often, I'll use that as my base on which to build by adding veggies etc., subtracting supplements if/when the nutrients are displaced by actual food.

The main way I'd like to improve this is by making it a solid instead of a drink mix, for convenience and because there is research that indicates liquid calories are processed differently than solid by satiety centers in our brains. Haven't quite figured that out yet, if I mix a bit of water in it turns into a dough but then I have to either add a preservative of some sort or remove water again to reduce the water activity low enough that it will keep without refrigeration... and it's kind of hard to experiment. A stopgap measure is to put some powder in a plastic ziploc sandwich bag, to which water can be added on-the-go and I can drink from.

I feel and look better now, a 5 9 guy, I went from 88 kg to 66 kg in only a few months. But I should warn you that I have started going back up again now slowly. Such is the problem; ultimately we live in a poor food environment, and I think a good part of the solution is to use your neocortex to try to maintain your own micro-environment. What that means is changing the relative difficulty of obtaining various foods (especially in a daily or hourly time window) such that it becomes relatively more biased in favour of more agricultural, relatively unprocessed and relatively tasty (in season, spices etc) lower calorie density food being easier to obtain. To read more on this I suggest Marion nestle's books and blog.

Doesn't sound too healthy? it's not. It's not a healthy diet, really, but it's what worked for me. A truly healthy diet as described by Nestle, for instance, is just too much work and too expensive right now to be practical. This is better than nothing. It's wheylent green, basically. And it's as good as it gets for now. This is the world we live in these days.

People won't switch to wheylent green because they "have to", they will do it because they think it is somehow smart and they are beating the odds. Which it is, given certain realities. But ultimately the only good solution is to change those larger scale realities.

In my local grocery store, a single peach, maybe 80calories, costs more than a 225 bag of flavoured corn chips, 1500 calories. And try comparing it with chocolate. Peaches are food, they are not supposed to be rare treats. Chips are treats, not food. Until this is reflected in the food environment we will keep having these problems.
posted by Nish ton at 10:09 AM on October 23, 2012

Best answer: I'm right there with figuring out what you like to eat and combining them: Mr. Telophase used to think he hated salads. But I discovered that he likes romaine lettuce, red bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions. Hey presto: a salad. (He still won't eat them without ranch dressing or ginger dressing, but hey, he's eating salad!)

I'm still pretty picky about vegetables, but I've come up with workarounds. I find most lettuces unbearably bitter (and haaaate cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, and have never met a squash I didn't loathe), but (a) salt takes away some of the bitter, and (b) bitterness varies between variety, so if I stick to iceberg or butter lettuce and other light green ones, I can usually deal with the taste. Also, in extremis, I will put a vinaigrette dressing on it if I'm given a large bowl of dark green bitter ick.

I dislike the vast majority of dressings, and rarely eat dressing on a salad. I routinely encounter servers at restaurants who can't believe that I'd eat a salad dry, but in those cases I tell them to bring a couple of lemon wedges, which I then carefully ignore. (Well. Occasionally I sprinkle some on the salad, but mostly I just give them to Mr. T for his ice tea.)

My husband also dislikes most raw or steamed vegetables, but I've found that roasting them changes or destroys whatever it is that he objects to, so roasted green beans, asparagus, portobello mushrooms, and roasted tomatoes are on the menu. (Now I just have to find a way to get him to appreciate the beauty that is peas!)

Simple vegetable roasting: put a sheet of aluminum foil in a baking dish or cookie sheet. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400°. Spread your vegetable out on the foil in a single layer (if it's tomatoes, cut them in half, cut side up. Feel free to scrape out any oogy bits that weird you out. Other chunky vegetables cut into 1-2" pieces). Sprinkle them with olive oil (toss them in it, if you're so inclined). Dot them with butter if you're feeling luxurious. Salt and pepper them. Put the dish into the oven.

It'll take 10-60 minutes depending on the thickness and heartiness of the vegetable: tomatoes and green beans closer to 10, asparagus more like 15-25, potatoes more like 45-60. Poke a fork, sharp knife, or a skewer through a piece periodically to judge how done they are--when it goes through easily, it's done but you're the best judge of your preferred mouthfeel and may want to stop when there's a little resistance (better for green beans and asparagus). You can also cut little bits off and taste them as you cook, to check that it gets to a texture you like.

If you're lucky, all the oil will have been contained by the foil so all you have to do is throw it away and the cleanup is done. If you're not lucky, at least much less of it will now be baked to the pan.

You can jazz it up by sprinkling a bit of (fresh! not from a bottle!) lemon juice over them before or after cooking, or sprinkling various fresh or dried herbs on them. (start with rosemary and thyme, and experiment from there.)
posted by telophase at 1:13 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You sound like you have a sugar addiction. Sugar withdrawal symptoms are headaches and lethargy. I would seek advice from a nutritionist. I am aspiring to be a nutritionist and you are the exact person I'd love to work with. Look at for great articles on healthy weightloss, fitness tips, and recipes and nutrition. I learned a lot from this site. You need to take baby steps as your diet is mainly comprised of high starch and high carb and processed foods. It will take time for you slowly to incorporate healthy foods and stop eating so much candy. Start with eliminating soda completely and more water. Then add one vegetable a day and one fruit a day. Work on incorporating more fruits and veggies and don't focus on what not to eat. If you keep in mind the concept of whole foods, real food, unprocessed food, this will help.

Regarding toning up- lift weights or do exercises involving your own body weight as resistance (pushups, lunges, lower leg lifts, squats).
posted by Summer Fall at 5:49 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just to add on to my comments based on the responses:

- I double checked this before my post but did not link it: Reese's peanut butter is no more 'unhealthy' than other peanut butters, with 190 calories per serving, 7g carbs, 3g sugar. I eat the Fifty50 low glycemic peanut butter personally, but it really isn't much different: 190 calories per serving, 7g carbs, 1g sugar. So from my perspective if you like Reese's peanut butter, go to town.

- You said "I've heard diet soda is way worse for you than regular soda." "Way worse"... well, I would have to disagree, especially if you're trying to prevent diabetes. Compare diet Coke to regular Coke.

If you're trying to avoid calories, diet Coke has zero calories, regular Coke has 240 per 20 ounce bottle.
Don't want to eat too much sugar/carbs? Regular Coke has 65grams of carbs and all of them are sugar. Diet Coke has zero grams of carbs and zero sugar.

So, why is diet Coke "way worse" than regular Coke, when it has far fewer calories, carbs, or sugar (i.e. zero compared to a lot)? Well, probably because whoever told you that is afraid of artificial sweeteners. Diet Coke is sweetened with aspartame. Although many people are wary of aspartame, the last comprehensive medical review in 2007 reported the scientific evidence showed that it was safe for human consumption. Now, I wouldn't recommend you drink a 6 pack a day of diet Cokes or any other aspartame containing soda. As ablazingsaddle noted, no soda is good for you. But we're talking about baby steps to improve your diet, and switching from soda to diet soda is, I maintain, a good baby step, and much easier to do than completely cutting soda from your diet. Once you've switched to diet, you could then work on cutting down how many times a week you drink it.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:38 PM on October 23, 2012

Best answer: Just stumbled across this free course in nutrition through U of WA Seattle - Open UW:

Good luck!

(Keep at it - it's worth it! You can feel sooo much better than you can even imagine!)
posted by jrobin276 at 8:57 PM on October 23, 2012

Response by poster: I think I am addicted to sugar.Not just in soda, but any desserts or any food they serve at restaurants. I've tested this theory out. I have a headache one day right? I will eat at home, make pasta, soup, or whatever. I'll feel alright. The next day I go to eat with friends at Denny's (yeah broke college graduate here :P) but then I feel amazing and happy the rest of the day. I'm just so sick of it.

Yeah and I'd rather just quit drinking soda all together then drink diet. Does diet have high corn fructose syrup in it too? I'll probably find this out on my own. I've been trying to read articles on why and how soda is bad for your body. I was highly maybe addicted to lemonade for a few years. I'd get up in the middle of the night and drink almost a half gallon. It was pretty bad. We don't keep soda in the house because the person I live with doesn't drink soda and I don't buy it. It's just at work, we get to drink whatever we want, so it's pretty easy to just grab a cup and fill it up with soda. Today though, instead of drinking soda I drank hot chocolate.

Someone mentioned I should take up a hobby that I enjoy besides the gym. This Saturday I'm going to start skydiving solo working towards my skydiving license. I know from skydiving tandem before staying hydrated like crazy is very important. My life is at stake and if I mess up just because I was hungry..well you know :)
posted by Autumn89 at 12:26 PM on October 24, 2012

Yay, skydiving sounds fun!

Yeah, just try to find other drinks to replace soda and eventually get to mostly water. Maybe if you're looking for a soda alternative, sparkling water with a slice of lime is a good alternative? San Pallegrino makes me feel fancy. Or maybe Ginger Ale without High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Don't know if you live in a cold city, but bagged/loose-leaf teas are not a bad substitute to drink in large quantities. I replaced my soda addiction with coffee, so try not to go there.
posted by Hawk V at 10:57 PM on October 24, 2012

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