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Listen to your body

My husband is an early riser. Dan jumps out of bed before his alarm goes off and is ready to work at 5 a.m. Before he leaves the house he has a healthy breakfast and walks the dogs around the block. He packs low calorie healthy snacks to bring to work. But at work he is faced with temptations. Dan is a maintenance man for a wholesale bakery. Imagine working with the smell of fresh baked breads, deep fat fried rolls, cakes, muffins, cookies and more. He confessed even though he has breakfast and is eating mid-morning fruit he can't avoid the temptations before our noon lunch.

We asked our dietitian, who is helping us lose weight. She suggested to start the day with a healthy protein and a whole grain carbohydrate. For example, eat a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and a sliced banana. Look for foods with high fiber to keep feeling full longer.

And listen to your body. Some people may need to eat most of their daily calories in the morning to make it through the day. Others may need to a larger lunch or some may need a larger meal at different times depending on the day. Also, with snacks, pair the fruit which is a carb with a protein to keep the hunger at bay. So if you eat fruit for a snack, pair it with almonds or peanut butter. She also said to have a whole grain bread or cracker with peanut butter and honey to fuel the body prior to exercising for energy.

When we first began this adventure, I started by working on my serving sizes. I would measure out snacks into individual baggies and would eat the entire serving for a snack. Now there are days where a snack bag lasts the entire day. Sometimes it's just a nibble needed. But there are days when I am stressed at work and I find myself eating to sooth the anxiety. I choose to listen to my body, make healthy choices and keep my portions in check.

I am not an early riser like my husband. I have my energy and creativity at night. Instead of trying to conform and fighting against who I am, I have embraced it and that, my friends, makes me happy.

I also made two new friends, George Foreman grill and the Rivel SmartPot. When my husband and daughter are in bed, I meet my friends in the kitchen and begin to create.

I started making a huge crock pot of chili, using low sodium V8 juice, cooked and drained lean ground beef, lots of celery, onion, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and several cans of rinsed kidney and black beans.

I left the chili in the SmartPot for four days. We would eat some and I would add more V8, beans or vegetables to make it a little different each meal. It was delicious and I was not sick of eating the same meal with the daily variations. It was so nice to come home from work and have a warm meal ready to eat. The crockpot is healthy way to enjoy "fast food."

Chili is a good choice, just remember to check the labels and choose lower sodium products. Plus canned tomatoes can contain more than four times the amount of lycopene, which is linked to a reduced risk for cancer, than fresh tomatoes.

I was concerned leaving food in the crock pot for so many days could breed bacteria but I was told as long as the temperature was above 140 degrees it was safe. Dan checked and on the warm setting the food is 172 degrees.

Then one night I browned a frozen ribeye steak in the George Forman grill, sliced it into thin bite-sized pieces and added it to low sodium beef broth in the crockpot. I chopped celery, carrots and onions. I added olive oil, chopped garlic and thyme. The broth was lacking in consistency so I begrudgingly added a couple cans of condensed beef soup even though the cans contain monosodium glutamate, an additive I am trying to avoid. Monosodium glutamate or MSG is an additive that enhances the flavor of food. Sure, it makes food taste good, but can cause side effects and it is not part of my "is this the food God intended me to eat?" plan. I am on the look for ingredients to add body to soup without the unhealthy additives.

The soup was good but the second day I added chopped water chestnuts to give it texture. Then I added baby red potatoes and then pearled barley. Wow, was that delicious soup. I ate it for breakfast, lunch and supper.

I was telling Dan how much I enjoyed the soup. He said it must have been good because he only had a cup of soup and then he got to wash the pot. I will make more and it will be ready for his 5 a.m. hearty breakfast.