Heart Health: Cooking at Home Controls Ingredients, Portion Sizes

Whitney Health Guide
  • Big News: I lost two pounds this week! It only lowers my body mass index (BMI) a measly by a measly .4 points, but it's definitely a start. After last week's diet and fitness experimentation I really got serious this week, at least on the diet front. I decided that my major calorie, fat and sodium culprit was fast food. Even non-greasy, "fresh" food from restaurants and take-out joints is much more salty than the stuff you can make at home (read about my Chipotle revelation), so this week I spent much more time in my kitchen.

    That in and of itself was a challenge. For the past five years I've lived a sort of nomad life, what with college (and switching dorms three times), a one-year stint in New York and then moving to the Washington area. Moving so much not only meant that I didn't have a whole lot in the way of kitchenware, but also that I never really learned how. So my first stop was to Target to pick up stuff that you guys probably take for granted: a pot, a pan, a spatula, an oven mitt.

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    I learned how to make my perfect omelet (two egg whites, a cup of chopped broccoli, a few ounces of turkey and sprinkle of low-fat cheddar), got the hang of boiling rice (seriously...) and, most importantly, resisted the pull of a food chain logo all week.

    Even though I knew the food I was eating was healthy, I still wanted reassurance that I was on the right path, so I enlisted the help of two iPhone applications. One is simply called "BMI Calculator" and its a no-nonsense tool to tell you were you stand (BMI goes underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese, depending on your height and weight). Besides learning my new BMI after my two-pound victory, it makes it easy to play around with different numbers to see how much weight you need to lose to get to the next level. Calculate yours online here.

    The second tool that is an absolute God-send is called "Spark People." Not a very telling name, huh? But it's amazing. First, you enter your height and weight, then you're goal weight and how many pounds you want to lose each week. It calculates a personalized diet for you and breaks down what you should eat daily. Genius! For example, to lose two pounds each week, I can eat up between 1560 and 1910 calories each day and I should burn about 287 calories daily to reach my goal. I can also easily enter my foods into the phone, so that I don't have to track my own food and calories. After a week of tedious food diary entries, this was a big relief to me. If you have an iPhone, I'd recommend the download (it's free!), but if not, you can get the same info on their site.

    On the exercise front...it's going. I've never enjoyed exercise outside of sports, so it's difficult to drag myself to the gym. Since I've found healthy foods that I love to cook, next week I'll focus a lot more on being active.

    Here are my stats this week:

    Age: 24

    Height: 5'2"

    Body mass index (BMI): 45.3

    Blood Cholesterol: 220 mg/DL [I won't be checking this weekly.]

Published On: February 01, 2010