#374 (9/15/2009) FOOLING YOURSELF FIT!

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Soup is just a way of screwing you out of a meal.

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Self-Sneaking: How to Trick Yourself into Eating Healthy Food

By Denis Faye

In a perfect world, countries would stop fighting, cars would emit rose-scented oxygen, and broccoli would taste like chocolate cake. Sadly, that's not the case. But there's always hope. Beachbody® may not be able to stop wars or global warming (yet), but we can certainly give you a few tips on getting your veggies to taste better. It's easier than you think.

Healthy Food

There are a number of books on the subject of sneaking healthy foods to kids, including a few The Sneaky Chef titles and Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food. Basically, the same principles you'll find in these books apply to grown-ups. The only difference is your mind-set. Given that you'll be doing the cooking, you won't really be sneaking healthy foods into meals; you'll just be altering healthy foods to suit your tastes.

There are other easy ways to make sure you get your veggies, including taking green nutritional supplements and drinking everyone's favorite prebiotic, micronutrient-packed drink, Shakeology®, but remember that most healthy diets are supposed to be primarily made up of fruits and veggies. If you can drink your Shakeology and sneak a couple servings of cauliflower into your Texas chili, you'll be in great shape.

The goop

The gist of the aforementioned cookbooks is simply to steam veggies for 10 to 15 minutes, throw them in a blender or food processor with a couple tablespoons of water, and puree them into a fine goop. Then, you introduce the goop into foods that overwhelm its flavor. It's that easy.

Although the books offer a near-infinite variety of goops, I'm going to boil it down, so to speak, to two goops.

  • White goop. Most of the time, this is cauliflower, although some people try a little zucchini in there. It's the most flavorless of the goops, and it's ideal to mix into anything with a cream- or cheese-based sauce, such as pasta Alfredo or mac 'n cheese.
  • SpinachGreen goop. Anything green can go into green goop, but I find broccoli and spinach work best. Green goop works well with red or reddish sauces, such as chili, marinara, or pizza sauce. You can also throw a massive layer into lasagna or manicotti and be none-the-wiser, yet all the healthier. I've never tried it in enchiladas, but I'm guessing it'll work there too.
  • Bonus: goop recipe. Pesto is incredibly easy to make from scratch and impresses the pants off of anyone who doesn't know how to make it. And the best thing about it is that its rich, complex flavor makes it easy to tweak, so that you can sneak a little healthiness in the form of iron-packed spinach to your unsuspecting dinner guests.
    • 1-1/2 cups basil, packed
    • 1-1/2 cups spinach, packed
    • 1/3 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 1/3 cup pine nuts
    • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
    • Directions: Mix them into a paste with a food processor or blender. Done.

The split

If you've eaten enriched flour pasta and white rice your whole life, it's understandable that brown rice and whole wheat pasta would taste weird. After all, brown rice and whole wheat pastas have flavor!

The solution is simple. Make a 50/50 mix. It's half as healthy, but it also tastes half as different. Once you're used to that, cut the white out and go 100 percent brown. You'll never look back.

Half Potato and Half YamBonus Split Tip! Next time you make mashed potatoes, go half potato/half yam or sweet potato. You'll be adding flavor, which means less need for salt and butter. Also, you'll be adding the fiber that, especially if you don't like veggies, you're probably not getting enough of.

Miscellaneous strategies

While all the above stuff works great for fussy eaters young and old, keep in mind that at your age, techniques for sneaking in healthy food shouldn't always have to be so covert. Here are a few ideas that are slightly less sneaky but effective nonetheless. You'll be adding a very subtle taste to a strong, rich food.

  • Carrot juice in your apple juice. The former doesn't taste nearly as strong as the latter, but it packs a nutritional wallop that includes vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Broccoli in Burger BunBroccoli in your burger. Shred the broccoli florets and mix them into the meat. Yeah, you might still see them floating around, but after piling on the lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle, mustard, or whatever else you add, you're just not going to taste them.
  • Whole wheat French toast. Yes, this might change the texture, but who eats French toast for the toast part? Your taste buds will be so busy dancing with the fresh fruit and syrup you put on top that they won't have time for to notice the fibrous, nutritious whole grains you're sneaking in.

No, we don't live in a perfect world. Pollution is a bummer, and there will probably always be countries that just can't seem to coexist on the same planet. But there's no reason why, with a little effort and a few tricks, nutritious and delicious can't live together happily on the same plate.

Related Articles
"Beat the 2-Day Binge: Your Weekend Diet Survival Guide"
"The 5 Best Fats to Get Lean"
"The Best Food on the Planet"

Denis FayeGot something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, September 21st, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: 7 Simple Ways to Measure Progress

"Mirror, mirror on the wall . . . Are my thighs too big? Do these jeans look good? Is this dress too tight? Can you actually see any muscle?" . . . We can all relate to these feelings—not feeling like we're progressing as fast as we'd like with our fitness regimens, we are often very hard on ourselves.

"Before" and "After" Comparison

The reasons we can be so dissatisfied with our bodies are varied and complex. Even people who belong on the cover of Maxim can be unhappy with the way they look. I had a conversation with an actress recently who was chastised by a photographer because she did not flatter a size zero swimsuit. Size ZERO. Aren't those actually made for children? And why should we have to flatter the article of clothing? Isn't it supposed to flatter us?

This is not to say that you shouldn't strive to be healthier, stronger, and at the top of your game. But ultimately, it's about being happy with where we are right now while still pushing every day for a little bit more.

Here are some simple, objective ways to measure your progress.

  1. Woman in Jeans in Front of MirrorHow your clothes fit. I used to buy jeans at least two sizes too small in hopes I would diet down to fit them. In these tough economic times, having a closet full of expensive jeans I can't wear seems a little inane. But using how your clothes fit as a measure can be very helpful. Find a size of jeans you are comfortable with—a pair that fits. If they still fit, you know that you haven't gained those extra pounds you've imagined on yourself. And vice versa, if they begin to fit a bit loose, you know you're making progress. And even if those $300 jeans go out of style, you'll always have a very expensive measuring device.
  2. Measurements. A slightly more economical option involves an actual tape measure. Taking measurements of different parts of your body, and retaking them at specific intervals for comparison (for example, you can take them at 30-day intervals for P90X or ChaLEAN Extreme®), can be a fantastic reality check on your path toward acceptance. You might also consider body fat measurements, which can be done with inexpensive calipers or special scales, or for the most accurate reading, a full-body water immersion. Again, it is the retaking of all of these measurements at predetermined intervals that will keep you grounded.
  3. ScaleWeigh yourself. This can be a tricky option for many people. I've destroyed entire weekends because of what my "trusty" digital scale had to say. But if you are looking for concrete facts, the scale does not lie. More often than not I have been shocked by how little I have gained after a giant Thanksgiving dinner. The secret is being consistent with the time of day and doing it at most once a week—not six times a day. Also remember that on a fitness plan, fat loss and muscle gain can often level the number on the scale—you might not seem to lose weight because you're actually gaining muscle. As a result, having a backup measurement (see #2) is most helpful.
  4. Keep track of your fitness progress. Continue to measure your progress with your fitness program, even as it becomes part of your healthy lifestyle. Keep track of how much stronger you've become, how many more miles you can run, or how you can finally touch your toes. Realize that only a super-motivated, amazing athlete could accomplish what you have, and that you look incredible as a result of your hard work.
  5. Draw outlines. This one requires a trusted friend, so choose wisely. Get a giant piece of butcher paper, put on some very tight clothing, lie down, and have your friend trace you on the paper. What you see will often be very different from what you have in your mind. Next, roll it up and hide it someplace. When you need a reality check, take it out and lie down. Often just seeing that we are still within the lines is enough.
  6. Kristy McLean, MDB Game™ WinnerPhotos. With most Beachbody programs, you will take your "before" and "after" pictures. Having our picture taken can be hell for many of us, but this can be a big eye-opener. First, realize that no one needs to see this but you. The idea is to take a picture of yourself wearing the same thing (again, this can be at 30-day intervals). A bikini is probably the most telling, but you have to make sure you are comfortable. At the end, compare all of the photos and note the progress you've made. If you work hard, you won't be the same on day 30 (or day 60 or day 90) as you were on day 1.
  7. Focus. If I read one more magazine article that says "Focus on what is beautiful about you, instead of what you don't like," I might just scream. That's great advice, except when I look in my compact, I am still going to see a zit—if it is there—before I notice my eyes. With that said, I think we can acknowledge that which we don't love, and not obsess about it. There are so many more amazing things to focus on, like your loved ones, your fantastic job, and even your workouts. Obsessing about your body, be it positive or negative, can be wasteful and can either make you vain or insecure. Focus on being healthy, strong, and fit, and all the other great things in your life.

Many of us are dissatisfied with the way we look. Yes, there's always a way to strive for more physical perfection, but there is only one YOU in this entire world. You are amazing, just the way you are. You are beautiful. Now go tell that to the mirror.

Related Articles
"The Magic Number for Health and Beauty"
"What's Your Fitness Personality?"
"Why You Might Be Losing the Battle of the Bulge"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, September 21st, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Exotic Fruit IQ!

By Elizabeth Brion

MangosteenYou've probably seen them in the produce section: an array of intriguingly shaped and colored fruits that might taste like anything, really. Perhaps you've tried some of them already; perhaps you were dissuaded by the price, or the mystery, or both. We're here to help with at least a few of them. Expanding your palate beyond bananas, citrus, and apples is a great way to add variety to your diet—and a fun way to keep your grocery store's cashiers on their toes! See if you can match each name with the fruit's description.

  1. Jackfruit: Spiky yellow fruit weighing up to 50 lbs. When ripe, this fruit boasts a sweet, mild taste that's sometimes compared to banana bubble gum—and it also boasts an unsettling stench (emanating from the outside part, so hold your nose and dig in). The young green fruit is so mild that it's gaining popularity among vegetarian chefs as a meat substitute. No, seriously—it works. The seeds of the jackfruit are edible and nutritious as well.
  2. Mangosteen: Small, purple-skinned fruit with opaque white flesh. People get excited about mangosteens (no relation to mangoes). Really excited. For instance, some believe that the fruit prevents many diseases. Wouldn't that be great? I think it's appropriate to use this 1878 quote from traveler T.W.K. to sum it up: "It has a taste which nobody can describe any more than he can tell how a canary sings or a violet smells, and I know of nothing more forcible than the statement of a Yankee skipper who pronounced the mangosteen the 'bang-upest fruit' he had ever seen."
  3. Ugli fruit: Discolored, wrinkled, oddly shaped citrus fruit. Yeah, that one was kind of a given, wasn't it? Although the term "ugli fruit" is used generically, the nice people at Cabel Hall Citrus Ltd. would like you to know it's really UGLI® fruit. It's a tangy, juicy variety of tangelo—and yes, it got its name exactly the way you think it did.
  4. African cucumber: Horned yellow fruit with bright-green, seedy pulp. Some people describe the flavor of this impressive-looking fruit with words like banana, tropical fruit, and lime. Others mention cucumbers and grass. Perhaps this indicates that African cucumbers vary. Perhaps it indicates that people vary. Either way, you've got a guarantee with this one; if you don't like the lime-Jell-O-looking insides, you can make a spectacular centerpiece out of the rind.
  5. Soursop: Pinecone-like green-skinned fruit with creamy white pulp. The flesh of this fruit tastes like a sourer cross between strawberry and banana and is most often described as "refreshing." But there's a catch—that delicious pulp is studded with 50 to 100 seeds, and they're not easy to remove. For that reason, this fruit is most often found in juice and ice cream rather than whole. If you're patient and like having something to do with your hands, though, the whole-fruit experience can be well worth the effort.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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