weight loss

My Number One Trick For Eating Right

by Sally on October 6, 2014

The question that keeps me away from junk foodI don’t have the stamina for junk food anymore.

As a kid, I could suck on Sour Patch Kids until my tongue was raw. I could wash down greasy pizza and Cheetos with a Cherry Coke and be no worse for the wear. These days, a donut for breakfast would send me crawling back to bed in a sugared stupor.

Even candy corn, my all-time favorite seasonal delicacy, holds little to no allure now. If I ingest more than a few kernels, my head begins to pound.

This is yet another sign that I’m getting older, but I welcome it. Because the old adage is true: With age comes wisdom. The older you get, the more you know who you really are. You know what you need (and don’t). You know what works for you (and what doesn’t). That includes food.

As a dietitian, I know exactly why a handful of almonds is a better snack choice for me than a handful of candy corn. I understand protein and fiber and blood sugar. But let’s face it: I could ignore all of that and plunge my hand into the bag of Brach’s. So instead, I focus on this one simple question:

How will I FEEL after eating this?

The answer to that question is always clear and impossible to ignore. If I eat the candy corn, I’ll get a headache. Eat more than a handful and I’ll break out in a light sweat. I’ll feel tired. And cranky. I’ll wish I’d eaten the almonds instead.

Junk food has massive sensory appeal. It looks good, and it’s engineered to taste really REALLY good. It’s hard to muster up enough energy to constantly resist it, especially because it’s everywhere. When faced with it, thinking about what’s nutritionally superior doesn’t always work. But for me, asking myself that question usually does.

With my kids, I sometimes talk about how food can make us feel (read: “Why I’m Glad I Bought The Gatorade“), but I know it doesn’t motivate them in the same way. Gummy bears don’t make their temples throb. They seem to have even more energy after a sticky-sweet birthday party cupcake. But I hope the basic message gets through: Different kinds of foods can make us feel different ways, good and bad.

So does that mean I never eat sugar? Hardly. I nibbled on the candy corn I bought for that photograph. I love to make homemade desserts like pies, cookies, and cakes and lick the bowl when my kids aren’t looking. But I also know that I feel best if I have non-starchy carbs (like a smoothie) for breakfast, so pastries are easy to pass up. I know that a big dose of sugar will render me useless for at least an hour, so candy and soda have barely any appeal and I eat a small amount of dessert after I have some dinner in my belly.

Sure, sometimes I eat against my best interests and regret it. Nobody’s perfect (read: “The Myth of Perfect Eating“). But knowing myself has helped me stay on track more often than not. And this one little question has become a powerful tool that squashes the same cravings that used to get the best of me.

How about you: Has your tolerance for junk changed over time?



Are you a fan of the popular blog Snack Girl? You should be. Author Lisa Cain dishes up recipes and strategies for healthy eating in a way that’s smart, funny, and best of all, totally nonjudgmental. You’re not getting Wisdom From On High, from someone who naturally prefers kale over cookies (and can’t believe everyone doesn’t!). You’re getting hard-won wisdom from someone’s who been there, someone who struggled with her weight and changed how she ate for the better, someone who isn’t afraid to admit that sometimes it’s hard.

Her new book Snack Girl to the Rescue! is a totally real, relatable guide to healthy eating. In it, she describes her journey (which included reading every diet book she could find and leaving a Weight Watchers meeting in tears) and walks you through exactly how she got on a better path–so you can do it too. She also includes 100 healthy recipes for meals and snacks that follow her same accessible approach: no fancy ingredients, recognizable, and “simple enough to make every day and tasty enough that you’ll want to”.

I featured some of Snack Girl’s no-bake cookies on my blog two years ago (read: “Simple No Bake Cookie Balls“). The No-Bake Lemon Balls–made with just almonds, dates, fresh lemon juice, and coconut–still rank among my favorites. If you love lemon, I recommend making them immediately.

One of the goals of Lisa’s blog and book is to make healthy eating easier, which is why I love her method for making brown rice–that, and because I’m a failure when it comes to stove-top rice. (For some reason, I can’t resist lift the lid during cooking.)

Make a batch of this oven-baked rice and tuck leftover servings into the freezer for busy nights.

How to Make Brown Rice in the Oven at Real Mom Nutrition

Easy Baked Brown Rice
Serves: 6 (1/2 cup serving)
  • 3 cups brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoons coarse salt (or ½ teaspoon fine salt)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a teakettle or pot, bring 5 cups of water to a boil.
  3. Put the rice in a 9x13 casserole or other baking dish that will hold at least 12 cups; if the dish does not have a lid, use aluminum foil to cover it.
  4. Dot the butter into the rice and sprinkle on the salt.
  5. Add the boiling water, stir, cover, and bake for 1 hour.
  6. After 1 hour, remove the cover and fluff the rice with a fork.
  7. Serve or put in containers to freeze for later use.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Snack Girl to the Rescue! All opinions are my own. 

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase a product through this link, your cost will be the same but I will receive a small commission to help with operating costs of this blog. I only link to products I personally use and love. Thanks for your support!


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