Back in the early 1960’s Esso gas company, now known as Exxon gas, had a popular marketing slogan, ‘Put a Tiger in Your Tank’. It became one of the most famous campaigns in advertising history. At that time, gasoline was a mere 31 cents per gallon. A dozen eggs was half a dollar and a cup of hot coffee set you back a dime.
The popular phrase Put a tiger in your tank and the ad campaign’s signature cartoon tiger (a dead-ringer for Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh) referenced the strength and performance of the advertiser’s premium petrol. The power boost promised included “octane power for a fast getaway, firing power for smooth performance and cleaning power to protect the engine and clean the carburetor while you drive.” Such criteria for an optimal car ride are not dissimilar to those for eating to thrive. The closer what sits on your plate approximates whole, unprocessed food, mostly plant foods, the more able the body is to fire on all cylinders.
So what prevents so many in this country from making choices that truly rev their engine?
CONVENIENCE can be a factor. Although intentions may be good, when time is limited, it’s just easier to grab and go with whatever food is in proximity, a fast bite. These days, fast food and junk food appear at every turn.
PEER PRESSURE hijacks healthier eating choices. When friends or office mates are negotiating eating decisions in the middle of a stress-filled day, the default is often comfort food loaded with high levels of salt, sugar and unhealthy fat. In such cases, it is easier to just go along with the crowd’s unanimous cravings than to power up your body with the foods that will serve your body best.
LIMITED THINKING/BELIEFS about the definition of real food, actual hunger and knowledge of how to eat for stamina can cause the body’s engine to stall on a regular basis. The acid test for assuring whether you are fueling your body with high test is to observe your energy level several hours after eating or the next day. The negative effect of overeating sugar today for example, harshly impacts the body’s performance well into tomorrow.
SKIPPING MEALS AND SKIMPING ON MEALS happens when calorie counting and dieting, haphazard food selection and poor scheduling of meals occurs. Inevitably, this leads to not eating enough early in the day and overeating at night. Irritability, inability to concentrate and an increased struggle to sustain weight loss can result.
Here are food swaps to consider as you go about your day. Every meal and every snack is an opportunity to upgrade food choices without feeling deprived of flavor. Tweaking tiny eating habits can yield significant changes if you keep at it.
1. REPLACE CALORIE DENSE SNACKS FOR NUTRIENT-DENSE SNACKS
It’s a sad fact, but according to Mark Schatzker author of ‘The Dorito Effect’, a bag of Doritos is (chemically) engineered to keep you hungry for more. The fat, sugar and salt added into the chip is explained to be a calculated measure in order to achieve what is referred to as the bliss point. This explains why the best attempts at eating a handful of chips often leads to finishing off the whole bag. INSTEAD: The market aisle is loaded with healthier tortilla-style options. Try sweet potato or black bean quinoa tortilla chips. New options include chips made from fresh pressed leafy greens! Pair with protein-rich hummus, now available in delicious flavors as diverse as the tortilla chips themselves.
2. EAT A WHOLE PIECE OF FRUIT RATHER THAN DRINKING FRUIT JUICE.
One cup of orange juice is a concentrated source of sugar (24 grams!) It’s good to remember that 1 gram of sugar on a food label equals ¼ of a teaspoon. Therefore, there are 4 grams of sugar in one teaspoon. INSTEAD: A small orange has almost one third less sugar. Unlike the juice, an orange provides fiber from the pulp which fills you up faster while slowing down the breakdown of the sugar.
3. INSTEAD OF A VANILLA FRAPPUCHINO ORDER AN ICED VANILLA LATTE AT STARBUCKS®
The website reveals that the Caffe Vanilla Frappaccino® Blended Coffee contains 69 grams of sugar (or 18 teaspoons of sugar!) The bottled version (13.7 fl oz) is 46 grams. INSTEAD: Slash the sugar more than in half with an Iced Vanilla Latte at 28 grams of sugar.
4. FREEZE YOUR GRAPES
Wash them, remove the grape stems from the vine and freeze grapes overnight. They taste like sorbet.
5. CHOOSE BROWN RICE OVER WHITE AND 100% WHOLE GRAIN BREAD OVER NUTRITION DEFICIENT WHITE BREAD
White flour and white rice, much like white sugar is stripped of nutrition. ‘100% whole grain’ is the phrasing to look for on the package. Also, explore and experiment with the sprouted versions of whole grain rice and wheat bread. These are packed with live nutrition and easier to digest. Why does digestion matter? Energy is required by the body to digest food. The easier your food is to digest the more energy is available to power through the day.
6. PACK YOUR LUNCH ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK
Brown-bagging lunch and crowding out the midday meal with nutrient dense fresh vegetables and fresh fruit empowers better eating. Eat better and you feel better. It is that simple. Carry fresh fruit and cut-up vegetables and add them to a midday meal. I try to pack a rainbow for lunch on-the-run. This encourages other whole food selections.I love the PERFECT bar (www.perfectbar.com). Even a piece of it supplements a balanced lunch or snack.
7. AVOID USING A MEAL REPLACEMENT BAR EVERY DAY
When time is limited meal replacement bars are a no-brainer. Unfortunately, most of these glamorized bars are candy bars masquerading as a meal. Even those marketed with double-digit grams of protein don’t replace eating a rainbow of nutrient dense living food daily. Watch the serving size of bars and determine ahead of time if the bar is going to be a snack (for 200 calories) or a meal if the measures multiple servings. Beware of the 30 ingredient bars! A handful of recognizable ingredients is ideal.
8. SELECT A WHOLE GRAIN ENGLISH MUFFIN INSTEAD OF A BAGEL
A bagel can be the caloric equivalent of five slices of bread. Hold the cream cheese. INSTEAD: Swap it instead for nut or seed butter with strawberry slices. Top a toasted whole grain English Muffin with sautéed spinach and an egg lightly fried in coconut oil. Wrap it in tin foil to-go instead of picking up that take-out egg sandwich. Energy up!
9. EAT HOT CEREAL RATHER THEN COLD MOST OF THE TIME
Prevention magazine reports on research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggesting that after 48 participants were asked to eat two breakfast options — hot oatmeal or cold cereal from a box, those participants who ate cooked oats felt fuller longer than those who ate ready-to-eat cereal.
In your morning oatmeal bowl savor a spoonful of pecan butter, nuts and hemp seeds for added protein, fiber and healthy fat. Liven up the bowl occasionally with an ounce of broken dark chocolate (70% cocoa)!
Every meal really should be a party. Sometimes we’re in such a hurry to get to the next activity that we miss the opportunity to celebrate a meal, to relax, to taste what we are eating consciously and to fire up the internal furnace. What are you throwing into your tank today? Is there a smart swap to make for your next meal or snack that can put a tiger in your tank?
As the iconic ad used to sign off, “Happy Motoring!”
Image courtesy of Unsplash.