As a nutritionist, I find that my food is under scrutiny all the time. Recently, I attended a weeklong seminar that had nothing to do with nutrition, but my food was still scrutinized.

Every morning started with a different fitness activity. Afterward, the instructor gave us breakfast guidelines, recommending that we eat just fruit “because it”™s easy to digest.”

I know better than to start my day with a plate of sugar, so I went to the buffet and put together a meal that was appropriate for me.

Because this will be relevant in a moment, here was my breakfast:[wlm_private 'PRO-Platinum|PRO-Monthly|PRO-Gratis|PRO-Seasonal|Platinum-trial|Monthly-trial|PRO-Military|30-Days-of-PRO|90 Day PRO|Stages-Instructor|Schwinn-Instructor|Instructor-Bonus|28 Day Challenge'] spinach, walnuts and a poached egg. The buffet didn”™t have poached eggs alone; they were part of the eggs Benedict. But I simply eat around unwanted foods, so I ate the egg and left the English muffin and Canadian bacon on my plate. No sauce.

A woman in the seminar walked over to my table and said I wasn”™t complying with the fitness instructor”™s guidelines. She pointed her finger at each item on my plate, one at a time, and criticized it. This happened while I was still eating my meal.

If you”™re thinking it was inappropriate for her to do that, I agree. Perhaps to my discredit, I objected to her behavior, and explained my objection to the fitness instructor”™s guidelines to start the day with sugar.

What can we take from this? (Other than not to criticize other people”™s food while they”™re eating!)

- Know your nutrition needs. These may be different from your likes. Know what you need to thrive and feel good. Seek out those foods, no matter what.

- Don”™t let other people”™s guidelines steer you away from the foods you know are best for you. The myth that fruit is healthful persists. Many people still have no idea that fructose — the sugar in fruit — is arguably the most unhealthful sugar. Stay with what works for you, no matter what.

- Navigate a buffet carefully to find what you need, especially vegetables. I found the spinach for my breakfast at the omelet station. Diced tomatoes and mushrooms were also there. If there are no salads, a burrito station can provide lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and more. You get the idea. Find vegetables, no matter what.

- Know how to find what you need on a restaurant menu. Friends laugh at me because my meals “always look the same.” They do: protein, vegetables, complex starch, healthful fat. Do I care if my friends laugh? Absolutely not. I just want the meal I want — and have learned to create it, no matter what.

For example, I”™ve ordered two salads for my main course when the menu offered nothing better. In the south, I”™ve ordered fried chicken and scraped off the breading with my fork. Keep your needs in mind and forget the rest — including the House Specialty! It”™s frequently a high-fat, sauce-laden extravaganza that might make you feel ill afterward.

- Pay attention to how you feel after a meal — both good and bad. If everyone else felt good after a meal but you didn”™t, that food wasn”™t for you. If you felt great, try to duplicate that meal as closely as possible at other times and places.

- Remember your protein needs above all. Keep it as lean as possible. The fitness instructor told us protein is overrated — but he knew nothing about foods and brain chemistry.

If you”™re a sugar addict who”™s trying to stay away from sugar, protein is key. It will help you survive and thrive as you give up sugar. If you need to carry envelopes of protein powder with you, do it. I”™ve done that many times. Get your protein, no matter what.

- Don”™t worry about the opinions of others. You deserve to eat right and feel good. No matter what![/wlm_private]

Joan Kent

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