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Starting from scratch

January 20, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
After trying several different types of diets, including for-profit programs, counting calories and vegetarianism, I decided that the part of my brain that determines what I should be eating is seriously out of whack. In an effort to retrain my brain, I spoke with a person who spent four years in college learning the science behind food; a dietician. She suggested the U.S. Department of Agriculture food pyramid program, so I checked out what the USDA felt I should be eating. I went to the Web site, There I entered my personal information for analysis.

According to the USDA, in order to maintain a healthy weight for someone my age and height, I should be eating per day: six ounces of grains; two and a half cups of vegetables; one and a half cups of fruit; three cups of milk or dairy; and five ounces of meat and/or beans. I also should aim for five teaspoons of oils a day, but should limit my extra fats and sugars to no more than 195 calories per day. These are called discretionary calories. In other words, those two teaspoons of sugar I put in my tea each morning equal 30 discretionary calories.

Except for those discretionary calories, which are explained in great detail on the Web site, there is no counting of calories. But according to the USDA, by following their program, I should be getting around 1600 calories each day. This is how I come up with the calculations on photos accompanying this blog. Some calculations are estimates; however, as it is impossible to be exact, some days you may see me go over the guideline recommendations and other days, you will see me go under. Regardless, it should all balance out in the end. Also, since I will be uploading a day’s worth of photos and information each morning, when you see this page each morning, you are actually viewing my meals from the previous day.

Saturday, there was a lot of housework to catch up on; floors needed washed, laundry needed done, so I wanted to start my day with a substantial breakfast to hold me over. Because it was Saturday, I also ate breakfast later than usual, which meant I wouldn’t be ready for lunch anytime soon. I began the morning with a cup of tea and two teaspoons of real sugar while I read my e-mail. Afterward, I made a breakfast burrito that contained scrambled egg whites, black beans, cheddar cheese and vegetables (peppers, carrots and broccoli) sauteed in cooking spray. I wrapped these ingredients in a flatbread from Ghossain’s Bakery in Boardman. I was introduced to these breads by my friend, Carol Baker, and they are wonderfully low in calories (55 per serving for the nine-inch size), eight grams of fiber, 12 grams of protein and no trans fat. I also was happy to see no high fructose corn syrup (we’ll talk about that another time) and no sugar. They taste pretty good and are filling as well. Normally I would have topped the whole thing with salsa, but was all out and my big grocery day isn’t until next week (yes, you’ll get to see that too).

The breakfast burrito did hold me over for quite a while and I wasn’t ready for lunch until after 2 p.m. Even then I wasn’t extremely hungry, but didn’t want to go until dinner without eating something. I had a tuna sandwich with low-fat mayonnaise and lettuce, a yogurt, an orange and a tall glass of plain tap water.

By dinner time, I was pretty hungry and I remembered a salmon filet I had in the freezer. I thought it would go well with oven baked sweet potato coins and brussels sprouts. I felt that I needed more vegetables; however, so I made a small salad, with apples and walnut, and had a glass of fat free milk. The small white dish contains fat free ranch salad dressing for dipping my sweet potatoes. You can see by my totals that I went over on my meat servings by one and was below where I should be with grains. It’s a process.


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Breakfast: early cup of tea with sugar (not shown); two ounces meat and beans; one-half cup vegetables; one grain; one-quarter dairy; 80 discretionary calories (sugar and cheese)


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