Can you stay on a restricted diet in the land of pasta and seafood?

Does this all fit in my diet? Probably not. Family I’m traveling with keep telling me it’s ok to splurge a bit but no one really knows that. What will cause my other artery to clog and the blood to stop flowing? I just need to take it on faith, given all the medications I’m on, that hopefully won’t happen on this trip.

I’ve been doing my best since I arrived in southern Italy to eat the way I’m supposed to on my restricted diet but doing that is proving impossible. I cannot avoid pasta here and I can’t find whole wheat pasta which is the only type I am supposed to eat these days.

What I am doing is eating smaller portions of pasta than would be served in American restaurants. Portions are smaller here because places serve the traditional Italian multi-course dinners. In those the pasta course is just a prelude to the fish or meat course and so not massive in size.

My first course, pasta with tomatoes and eggplants
My first course, pasta with tomatoes and eggplants
Continue reading “Can you stay on a restricted diet in the land of pasta and seafood?”

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What’s an airline no-salt/low-salt meal like?

What greeted me on the plane reminded me why I don’t miss airline food on domestic flights.

As I began my vacation, I was trying to stay on my restricted diet by ordering a special meal for my flight to Italy. Delta, as do most airlines I think, allows you to special order all sorts of meals ahead of your flight. I visited its website a few days before our departure and asked for a no-salt/low-salt meal.

What greeted me on the plane reminded me why I don’t miss airline food on domestic flights.

A low-salt airline meal on Delta...cheese, salad dressing, white rice? Really?
A low-salt airline meal on Delta…cheese, salad dressing, white rice? Really?

The meal I received included a bland chicken breast and white rice (which I’m not supposed to eat, only brown rice is allowed by my nutritionist). The small salad came with a dressing that likely had salt so I left it. A piece of cheese, something else I can’t eat because of fat and salt, also was included. Really? Cheese on a low-salt diet? Salad dressing on a low-salt diet?

If this was any indication what was ahead for me, I was in for a long trip. Luckily, since we have arrived in Italy, the food choices have been much more varied, and enjoyable for me. Keep reading to see what I’ve been eating in the land of my ancestor’s birth.
John

Can you enjoy vacationing on a restricted diet?

In the 10 months since, I have rebuilt what I eat and become relatively adept at making meals at home, plus at searching out the usually one thing on any restaurant menu I can safely eat (like buckwheat pancakes without butter at a pancake house today). How do I transition to eating every meal out every day in a foreign country?

I’m about to take the dream trip of my life — journeying to my ancestral homelands in Italy with my wife and six cousins. It’s exciting but all I can focus on right now is how will I be able to keep to my restricted diet while there? How much gelato, pasta, cheeses and other treats will I have to pas up while everyone around me eats to their heart’s content?

We'll be visiting Amalfi and Salerno, towns my grandmothers were born in, among other places on this trip.
We’ll be visiting Amalfi and Salerno, towns my grandmothers were born in, among other places on this trip.

In the 10 months since my angioplasty, I have rebuilt what I eat and become relatively adept at making meals at home, plus at searching out the usually one thing on any restaurant menu I can safely eat (like buckwheat pancakes without butter at a pancake house today). How do I transition to eating every meal out every day in a foreign country?

See how I do, or don’t do, here. I’ll be blogging whenever I can get Web access.
John

Challenges: those extra little devils!

Some good advice, especially the part about leaving behind people who cause you to eat or drink to unhealthy levels. My social habits have changed completely since I was put on a restricted diet following my angioplasty last August

Carbs and Barbs

It goes without saying that it isn’t all going to be plain sailing once you have made the decision to lose weight. If it were easy then everyone would be thin, fit and healthy. It takes work but along the way there are extra trials and tribulations set in your way. I thought that I would highlight some of those that I have come across and how I have got round them. This list is by no means exhaustive but it aims to just show that any challenge has a solution but it is just keep the mental focus to make sure you overcome them rather than let them overcome you.

Meals out

This is certainly more applicable to the early stages of my ‘dieting’. I found this incredibly complicated as I still wanted to be able to socialise by going out, especially as it was so ingrained in my…

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Where Can You Find Food to Eat At Restaurants?

Bravo to owner Bronko, please add more dishes I can eat so we can visit again.

Eating out is an ordeal for anyone on a restricted diet. I have cut back tremendously on the times each week I eat out with my wife and stopped going to several old favorites that don’t offer any low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar dishes that I find acceptable.

Before we eat out these days, I always try to scrutinize menus in advance to see what my options might be. Doing that helped my wife and I have a wonderful evening a few weeks ago at a completely unexpected locale, a Romanian restaurant in Chicago called Little Bucharest.

We were headed to a play in a section of Chicago I wasn’t familiar with in terms of restaurant options. So I checked on Google maps and found several places near the theater, only to be disappointed by one menu after another that was mostly pub food — unacceptable fatty beef, ribs, fried foods, etc.

My Romanian salmon
My Romanian salmon

Little Bucharest, however, had a broiled salmon dish on its menu that sounded acceptable and even tasty. It was served over a bed of leeks, peppers and potatoes. There was a light sauce, which I probably shouldn’t have gotten but it wasn’t on the fish. It all tasted great and we were treated to a musical group playing there as well, creating a memorable evening for us.

Bravo to owner Bronko, please add more dishes I can eat so we can visit again.
John

Little Bucharest Bistro on Urbanspoon

Why Should You Cook Several Dishes at Once?

That’s why I recommend cooking several main courses at once, perhaps on a Saturday or Sunday when you may have more time to prepare. Then you can simply reheat these items and make some quick veggie side dishes during the week.

As you likely know, the biggest change you face when you get put on a restricted diet is that buying prepared or processed foods of any kind becomes nearly impossible because of the amounts of sodium, sugar and fat in them. You are forced to cook for yourself, learning if you haven’t cooked before or relearning if you had cooked but used the big three of forbidden foods that you can no longer eat.

I’ve been a cook all my adult life but have been relearning and refining old recipes to get the salt, sugar and fat out, as I write about here. I pretty much make everything from scratch now and after eight months of doing it, have a fairly good rotation of nightly dinner dishes which I make for my wife and I. But cooking from scratch every night is time consuming, and tiring after long, long days at work.

That’s why I recommend cooking several main courses at once, perhaps on a Saturday or Sunday when you may have more time to prepare. Then you can simply reheat these items and make some quick veggie side dishes during the week. I did that with the items in the picture you see here.

Cooking three, or more, meals at once.
Cooking three, or more, meals at once.

The center item is my latest take on a pizza I can eat. It’s made with a whole wheat prepared crust from Whole Foods, salt-free tomato sauce and fat-free mozzarella cheese I get from a local supermarket, along with peppers, low-salt black olives, and mushrooms.

To the right of the pizza is my turkey meatloaf, which includes two pounds of lean and very lean ground turkey combined with low-salt Panko bread crumbs and Eggbeaters (equal to one egg). A meatloaf that size is at least two meals for my wife and I, and easy ones to quickly heat during the week.

To the left are portobello mushroom caps covered in salt-free tomato sauce, no-fat cheese and peppers. I originally cooked these as a main course but we ended up having them as a side dish. Simply bake those at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.
John

How Much Salt is in a McDonald’s Premium McWrap?

Please McDonald’s, I want to be able to eat at your places again, you’re everywhere, no place is more convenient for a quick lunch. But all I can order these days is a side salad without any dressing. I carry my own oil and vinegar to avoid your high-sodium dressings. Please get the salt out.

McDonald’s has been getting a lot of advertising mileage out of its new Premium McWraps, touting them as healthy offerings. But how healthy are they if you’re on a restricted diet, specifically if you’re on a no-salt diet as I am?McWrap_F-600x450

Unfortunately, not very, according to nutrition information on the McDonald’s website. A premium chicken McWrap with grilled chicken and ranch sauce has 1,130 mgs of sodium. I’m not supposed to have more than about 1,200 mgs a day, so one of these new McWraps would be a day’s salt for me. That’s unacceptable, and should be for you too if you’re watching your salt. Order it without the cheese, and you’re still at 1,030 mgs, still way too high. Leave off the ranch sauce and you’re down to 930 mgs, still more than half a day’s sodium.

Please McDonald’s, I want to be able to eat at your places again, you’re everywhere, no place is more convenient for a quick lunch. But all I can order these days is a side salad without any dressing. I carry my own oil and vinegar to avoid your high-sodium dressings. Please get the salt out.

John