Project Wonderful

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Mom Tells You What To Eat

My momma!

Have you ever thought to yourself, “man, I wish I had a Jewish mother telling me what to eat on the campaign trail?” Probably not. But mine is a Nutritionist Registered Dietitian and she has generously offered some advice to keep you healthy for the next couple of months! I’m going to offer this disclaimer that I know it is not realistic to expect any organizer to follow these rules 100% of the time, (I already talked my mom down from her suggestion that you eat non-fat cheese sticks and yogurt instead of pizza) but in the spirit of rule 5, let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Ladies and broworkers, I give you, my mommy:

I have second hand experience with the campaign trail but my first hand experienced daughter informs me that it can be quite the challenge to maintain any sort of a healthful diet while working in the field.

As a registered dietitian, and, well, someone with common sense, it comes as no surprise that poor eating habits will only serve to sap the much needed energy one needs to campaign. I offer therefore my suggestions for easy ways to maintain a healthful diet for anyone with a very busy job, limited income and very little if any time prepare your own food.

The microwave oven and office refrigerator can be your best food friends on the trail. The grocery store freezer section, as well as the produce aisle and the dairy section are filled with ready- made low-calorie, low-fat foods that are both low cost and flavorful.

In the produce section choose fruit that is in season. Not only will this fruit be the lowest cost, but it will also have the best taste. Fruits that you can buy in larger quantities but that do not spoil quickly are apples, pears, and oranges (think clementines!). These are all fruits that are coming into the groceries stores now at good prices. Keep the fruit in the refrigerator but be sure to grab a few on your way out to knock doors. That way when your stomach growls you will have a handy and delicious snack.

Pre-made bagged salads allow you to rip open a bag, add a little (no more than 2 tablespoons) of dressing or better yet use lemon juice with a small amount of healthful oil such as extra-virgin olive oil on your salad and enjoy. Top with one of those foil bags (~3 oz) of tuna packed in oil and you have an instant meal. Add a slice of high-fiber bread if you’d like but keep away from those bagels. Keep in mind¼ of a bagel is the equivalent to one slice of high fiber bread. Don’t forget bags of baby carrots that are a great snack anytime!

Check out the freezer section for individual servings of brands like Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine, and Healthy Choice. There is a wide variety of entrées available. Look for the brand on sale and stock up with enough to go a week or two depending on freezer space at your home or office. A few minutes inthe microwave and you have a tasty meal without splurging on excess calories, fat or sodium (check the nutrition label).

Can’t stop yourself when the late night pizza comes in the door along with your co-workers? Limit yourself to one slice and add your own heaping topping of salad or chopped spinach (raw or cooked).

Need a sweet treat? Buy individual Dixie cups of ice cream instead of a big container. The proper portion size is premeasured for you and should be just enough to fend off binges. Or if you are more of a cookie person, try chocolate (or your favorite flavor) of graham crackers. 2-4 squares provides the sweet taste you are looking for without much fat and with a little fiber as a bonus. Cereal bars and fiber bars can be a treat as well but check out the calories before you buy. Some of those are over 200 calories, about the same as many candy bars.

Want something great you can share around the office? Popcorn! Skip the prepackaged microwave brands which are not only expensive but usually full of fat and chemicals. Instead opt for a bag of kernels that is sure to last until well after election day. An air popper or a plastic pot (microwave safe with air holes to let steam escape) can be used over and over again. Each person can top their
own generous popped portion of 2-3 cups. CampaignSick’s Nancy Leeds recommends crumble dried seaweed snacks. Other ideas are sea salt (be sure not to overdo it), a few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese or a few shakes of herb seasoning.

Now that you have the tools, you’ll be able to campaign, keep your weight in check and keep your energy up until November 6th. May the best candidates win!

Sari Schlussel-Leeds, MS, RD, CDN


  1. I love that your mom the nutritionist is sitting in a bar. That's my kind of health food!

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