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Healthy snacks help make better choices

August 7, 2014 - Andy Flynn
This week: 395 lbs.

Last week: 395 lbs.

Start (Dec. 17): 470 lbs.

Total lost: 75 lbs.

Looking at the numbers — staying around 395 pounds for two months — people may get the impression that I’m not making headway with the Lake Placid Diet, but that’s simply not true.

At first, I got a little depressed that I wasn’t losing weight every week. Then I noticed that I wasn’t gaining all that weight back, and I felt a little better. I guess if I’m maintaining my weight, something must be working.

Clearly, I’ve been active with light hiking at Henry’s Woods and swimming in Mirror Lake over the past few weeks. There was one week I only exercised one day because I was sick, and last week — aside from all the walking while covering Ironman for the newspaper — I didn’t exercise at all because of my work schedule. But I’m back in the saddle, training for the swim leg of the High Peaks Cyclery mini-triathlon on Aug. 11 with the Lake Placid News team. I’m slow in the water, and there is no technique, but I continue to finish the 400-yard course without any problems. I’m even getting a tiny bit faster each time. You should see the looks on children’s faces when I emerge from the water. It’s like Godzilla hit the shore and is about to stomp all over the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery. Rest assured, kiddies, that will never happen; I like Ubu too much.

As for eating, I’ve had good days, and I’ve had bad days. The key is to have more good days and make more good eating decisions than bad ones. I’ve been working on my mental exercises for making good decisions over the past two months, and I’ve made some progress.

For example, I’ve noticed that sometimes — not all the time — I can modify my behavior by “changing the channel.” Literally, I’m trying not to watch the Food Network, especially “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” because it makes me hungry. But changing the channel can mean something as simple as doing another activity instead of making a bad decision. My wife and I were at Price Chopper Saturday evening after a movie, buying staples like eggs and milk, and she said, “Are we done?” I wanted munchie food like potato chips in the worst way. So instead of walking to the chip aisle, I said, “Let’s check out before I get myself in trouble.” I changed the channel. If there is a large plate on the counter for dinner, I’ll swap it out for a smaller plate. That’s changing the channel. Instead of sitting in the living room watching TV and eating, I may go for a walk, play with the dogs or just go to bed. That’s changing the channel.

I’ve also had some success eating lower-calorie alternative foods —?within reason. I still refuse to eat no-fat sour cream, no-fat salad dressing and fake butter. But I can easily switch to a turkey burger at the Dancing Bears Restaurant instead of chicken wings or a beef burger, which I did Saturday night. I’ve found that one tiny piece of gum — sugar-free or otherwise — gets me through a movie at the Palace Theatre while the smell of popcorn is wafting through the building. And instead of mayonnaise and other high-calorie condiments, I’ll put mustard, hot sauce or horseradish on just about anything.

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Healthy snacks

Please understand that I’m not a health-food snob. I still eat potato chips, nachos, meat sticks, pizza rolls, Ben & Jerry’s and Raisinets when I feel like treating myself. But I don’t eat them nearly as often as before I started the Lake Placid Diet. Now I’m trying to swap out some of those high-calorie, high-salt, high-sugar, processed foods with healthy snacks. I figure as long as I’m making more good decisions than bad ones, I’m doing better.

A healthy snack for me is different than a healthy snack for anyone else, as diets are tailored to each person’s special needs. For example, I’m looking for low-sugar, low-fat and salt-free ingredients with an eye on working extra protein into the mix. Having snacks that are portable is a plus because I’m on the go a lot for my work and exercise. And the more natural the better, meaning most of the snacks should not be processed.

Some of the snacks I eat are actually part of my meal plan. I subscribe to the practice of eating five to six small meals a day rather than three large ones. This helps provide a steady stream of energy throughout the day. So if I have a peanut butter sandwich with a cup of coffee at breakfast at 7 a.m. The piece of fruit I have around 10 a.m. may seem like a snack to some, because it’s between breakfast and lunch, but it’s really part of my breakfast. I’m just spacing out the meals. I do the same for lunch, having my piece of fruit in the middle of the afternoon.

My snacking, what I call traditional snacking, happens at night after dinner. I try not to eat too late, but sometimes the craving is too powerful. Below is a list of healthy snacks I enjoy.

-raw, unsalted nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans)

-dried fruit (raisins, prunes, apricots, dates, homemade dried cranberries without sugar)

-raw, unsalted seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)

-fruit (apples, pineapple, bananas, mangos, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, grapes, etc.)

-vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, green peppers, tomatoes or a salad)

-hard-boiled egg

-Muscle Milk (after working out or between workouts)

-nonfat, plain yogurt

-glass of 1 percent milk

-spoonful of unsalted peanut butter.

As I was comparing my eating habits in the spring, when I was losing weight, to those in the summer, as I’m maintaining weight, I found that I’m currently making more bad decisions in the evening. That’s when I typically overeat because of stress.

So what was working in the spring that isn’t working now? After breaking down my evening routine, I found that I’d unconsciously eliminated hard candy and salad. When I was eating a salad every evening, it kept my overeating in check. Keep in mind, the more stress I had during the day, the larger the salad, but at least I was eating vegetables and not junk food. And in the spring, my wife was buying bags of single-serving, sugar-free Werther’s caramel candies and placing them in a jar near the stairs. If I felt hungry around bedtime, instead of going to the kitchen, I’d go upstairs to bed and grab one candy on the way up. At 8 calories, it was a treat that satisfied my craving, but it wasn’t adding to my waistline. Last week, I realized the candy jar had been empty all summer. Now the jar is full.

More healthy snacks

I asked my Facebook friends to send in their healthy snack ideas, and below is an abbreviated list:

-KIND bars

-Special K pastry crisps

-Clementines, apples, bananas, nuts, salted almonds

-Chobani plain yogurt, mixed nuts, tuna fish in the foil packs, apples, cheese

-Roasted chickpeas

-Mixed unsalted nuts with Craisins

-Carrot and celery sticks, apple and a hunk of cheddar

-Hummus and carrots

-Homemade trail mix, turkey jerky

-Apples and peanut butter

-Grapes, nuts, olives

-Walnuts, almonds

-Raw almonds

-Snowballs with coconut

-Handful of Frosted Mini Wheats, unsalted nuts, peanuts, mixed or pistachios

-Frozen grapes, half a peanut butter sandwich on raisin bread, raw vegetables with dip made with plain yogurt

-Sliced apples and almond butter or peanut butter

-Blueberries, strawberries, baby carrots, unsalted nuts

-Air-popped popcorn with sea salt

-Greek yogurt with almonds, cottage cheese with fruit, baked tortilla chips and salsa, baby carrots, mini peppers, cherry tomatoes, low-fat ice cream desserts


-Knox Blox made with gelatin from grass-fed beef and fresh fruit


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Blog Photos

Here is a variety of healthy snacks, including fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. (News photo — Andy Flynn)