30-Day Nutrition Challenge: Breaking Carole’s Love of TV Dinners, Coffee and Chocolate

Carole is a 68-year-old retired woman who is in 30-Day Nutrition Challenge, here are a few questions of her tips and ideas as below:

Healthy Foodie: What do you normally have for breakfast?

Carole: Orange juice (with cod liver oil added), oatmeal or cereal with fruit, ground flax seed and one percent milk. Or a muffin, large mug of coffee with cream or Coffeemate.

HF – This is not a bad breakfast, but you’ll need to make some changes for the purpose of the challenge. Make sure the oats you’re using are gluten-free (available at health food stores) and you might want to skip boxed cereals. Instead of using cow’s milk, try experimenting with nut milks or rice milk. The ones bought from the store are usually full of sugar, but making your own is surprisingly easy. Obviously, coffee is going to have to go, so try switching to green tea. I often recommend those who are transitioning from coffee try a green drink in the morning, such as chlorella, spirulina or other green blends. These drinks are full of B vitamins, which give you natural energy instead of the artificial buzz of caffeine and they have a lot more magnesium than coffee. You can add them to smoothies in the morning. And even if you decide to switch back to coffee at some point, skip the non-dairy creamers – they’re all hydrogenated oil and contain trans fats.

HF: What do you normally have for lunch?

Carole: A large salad with dressing, a sandwich with whole-grain bread, protein and cheese or a health bar. Also I eat chocolate covered goji berries and a large mug of tea.

HF – A sandwich is still doable on the challenge if you find a gluten-free bread. Other than cheese, none of these ingredients are out of the question. The health bar and the chocolate goji berries are big sources of sugar, so I would leave those out for the duration of the challenge at least. Plus, although it’s a “health” bar, these foods are really just marginally better than candy, most of the time. Try this health bar recipe from That’s Fit.ca’s Joy McCarthy instead. Stir-fried veggies on rice or quinoa make for a good lunch, as do soups. If you make big batches of soup you can eat them for lunch over the course of the week.

HF: What do you normally have for dinner?

Large salad with dressing, chicken or beef, veggies (carrots, peas, broccoli etc.) sweet potato or a T.V. dinner or pizza (unfortunately most of the time). For dessert, cookies or some dark chocolate, two large mugs of coffee with cream or CoffeeMate.

HF: Carole, this seems a little mixed up! On some nights you’re having a quality protein with veggies, on other nights you’re doing pizza or TV dinners. I think it’s obvious what side of the equation needs to go. Leftovers are your friends. On the nights when you have some time, make a big one-pot meal like a stew, a curry or chili and keep the extra in the fridge or freezer. Then when you find yourself short on time, reach for the pre-made stuff you know is good for you.
The cookies, chocolate and two mugs of coffee have to go too, obviously. Try a piece of fruit and some green tea. Also, consider adding fish to your diet instead of always relying on chicken and beef. Fish is light but satisfying and is a good source of those essential omega-3 fats.

HF: What do you like to snack on?

Carole: Dark chocolate, peanuts, fruit, nacho chips, chocolate covered goji berries, ice cream or yogurt, pop corn

HF: All the sugary stuff needs to be set aside during the challenge, as will the dairy products. Nuts and seeds are a great snack. Make a trail mix with dried fruits like goji berries (no chocolate). Fruit is also a great snack idea. Nacho chips are considered a processed food and should be avoided. Popcorn is OK for this challenge, but don’t use butter or margarine (margarine is a processed food) – try ghee, coconut oil or even olive oil instead. And use unrefined sea salt instead of table salt.

HF: What are your favorite foods?

Chocolate, ice cream, peanuts, steak, tuna fish, chicken, liver

HF: Other than the chocolate and ice cream, this is a perfectly acceptable list. It’s nice to see someone who likes liver as organ meats are loaded with beneficial nutrients. Try replacing peanuts with other high-nutrient nuts, like almonds or walnuts to get some variety.

HF: What does being healthy mean to you?
Carole: I would say it’s mostly being pain-free (I have Fibromyalgia and Arthritis), lowering my high blood pressure (controlled by drugs) and having more energy to do the things I want to do. And being able to have a good night’s sleep (I have trouble going to sleep and wake up often during the night).

HF: Do you exercise?
Carole: I try to do some stretching exercises every day. I have a dog so I do quite a bit of walking with him every day. (More on my good days)

HF: Thinking back, when in your life did you feel at your best? Why do you think that was?

Carole: Probably in my late twenties and early thirties. I had lost about 60 lbs. I was eating healthy, exercising more and I did not have the aches and pains I have now. I guess that comes with the gray hairs. I did not have any sleep problems, either.

HF: Although many would have you believe otherwise, aches and pains are not necessarily a part of getting older that has to be accepted. When you’re feeling pain, your body is telling you that something is wrong. By eliminating the things that are doing you harm and adding in the things that help you to heal, hopefully these aches and pains will go away, or at least, improve.

HF: What is the most daunting part of this challenge ie. where do you anticipate having difficulty?

Carole: It seems like most of my food choices are the things that are to be eliminated. (but maybe that is why I am feeling so unhealthy). Eliminating coffee was a biggie for me but after a few days of headaches I am now free of the addiction. I did not think that sugar was a problem for me until I started reading labels and discovered practically everything in my cupboard has it in it in one form or another. Thankfully, I have a really good health store nearby and just today went out and purchased some of the things mentioned like ghee, rice flour, rice protein and gluten-free bread and oats. So, although I know it will be a challenge I also know I have a lot of help to see me through. I have put all of my “unhealthy” foods away out of sight and hopefully by the end of the 30 days I will feel so well that I will never want to go back to them.

Seeing the number of times coffee and chocolate are mentioned in the above, I think your body could be craving magnesium. You should consider a magnesium supplement or, as mentioned earlier, a green drink. Spirulina and chlorella are both loaded with chlorophyll and chlorophyll contains a lot of magnesium. Any green veggies are going to help, but these green drinks pack a powerful punch. An actual magnesium supplement is recommended also. And since magnesium is a “relaxing” mineral, you may find your sleep problems subside some when supplementing.

The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale