The Beauty of Balance

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Last weekend I had an impromptu girls weekend up at my parents’ cottage in Empire, Michigan. The three other girls that accompanied me happen to be some of my favorite dietitian co-workers. We generally spend the majority of our weeks educating patients on the right diet to follow for their health condition or disease state, making sure patients get fed enough, calculating tube feeding or IV nutrition rates, or arguing with physicians to make sure they actually take our nutrition recommendations.  By the time the weekend hits, “occasionally” we like to let go a little. Case in point…

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Needless to say, we had our fair share of pizza, booze, zebra onesies, nature hikes, old school rap music, and oh yes, more pizza. We threw in a little carrots and hummus one day for lunch to at least have some vegetables other than the tomato sauce from pizza. See dietitians aren’t always the food police! We definitely have our days where we don’t eat (or drink for that matter) perfectly in line with the food pyramid.

Monday was a rough one, especially after such a gluttonous weekend. Before I allowed all of those resentful feelings of excessive caloric intake overwhelm me, I reminded myself of one of the most important things about health…BALANCE.

To me, balance is key in any healthy lifestyle. Balance means you eat an extra cookie because they are fresh out of the oven or enjoy cocktails at happy hour two nights in a row because you can’t wait to catch up with good friends; then hit the gym hard the next few days after. Health is not only what you eat, but it also your emotional and mental health. A weekend filled with some close girlfriends, cocktails, pizza, and great laughs was well needed for a mental break. But nonetheless, I had to get my health back on track.

Tuesday rolled around. I decided to go on a nice 8-mile run. This isn’t normal for me-I was feeling ambitious, plus the sun was out. This doesn’t always happen late February in Michigan so I took advantage. Oh yes, and meal prep. I decided to make a winter kale salad, which included “massaged” kale, dried cranberries, feta cheese, pecans, baked chicken, sweet potato, lemon juice, and olive oil. This is one of my lunch favorites.

From a dietitian standpoint, kale is a food of the gods. It is packed full of all those great things dietitians like to spew off…fiber, iron, vitamin A/K/C, calcium, anti-oxidants, etc etc etc. Despite all these lovely nutrients, kale has always been a rather foreign leafy green to me. For a long time, I would try kale (you know, trying to be a good dietitian and all) and quite literally felt like a rabbit eating weeds from a field. I didn’t get the rave. Unless it was hidden in a soup, I said NOPE. It was not until I figured out the “massage” technique, that I actually started to enjoy kale.

So how do you massage the kale? Start by de-stemming your kale and place bite-size pieces in a large bowl. Add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil and lemon juice. Hey while you’re at it, sprinkle a little white wine or sea salt if you’re feeling daring (or if you just happen to be drinking white wine in my case). Then get ready to get your hands dirty. Massage the kale for about 2-5 minutes. You will definitely notice a deeper green color appearing as the massaging continues. Then voila, you are ready to add the rest of your kale salad ingredients of your choice. This delicious salad should last you a solid week of healthy work lunches so feel free to sit back and relax. You now don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat for lunch until next week 🙂

With that, I’m going to leave you with this breathtaking photo to remind you that balance should always be a priority in your health and try not to be so hard on yourself.

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-EAW