The Daily Beet

13 Feb Guest Post: Completely Overwhelmed

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Each week on Engine 2 Extra we have a weekly challenge. Each challenge is different. Some involve what we eat, some involve working out, some involve new habits like keeping a clean sink. A couple of weeks ago part of the weekly challenge was to respond to an  e-mail from someone who felt completely overwhelmed. We really loved E2X member, Anne’s response, and asked if we could share it with our entire Engine 2 audience.

Here is the e-mail and Anne’s great response:


“I feel completely overwhelmed, like there is no way I can do this. I start the day with good intentions, but every night on my way home I find myself at a fast food place or picking up a thing of cookies. I feel like a failure, I would really like to know how others did this. I need to change my life, I have type 2 diabetes and my Doctor said if I don’t get things in order I’m looking at an early death, I can’t do that to my daughters who are not even in middle school yet.” 

Dear Completely Overwhelmed,
Ugh!  I know how frustrating it can be to know what to do but then feel powerless in the face of hunger or cravings.  It sounds like you could use help fending off evening snack attacks.

Willpower is not enough…here are a few simple ways to stack the deck in your favor.

1. Clean out your pantry of processed foods and re-stock your cupboards and freezer with whole grains, canned no-salt beans, and fresh and frozen fruits and veggies.  Make your home a “safe zone” for eating with zero temptations.

2.  For the ride home, pack a “panic bag” or cooler in your car.  Here is a great one I use from Bed Bath & Beyond:  PackiT Freeze + Go.
PackIt® Freezable Mini Cooler Lunch Bag

Fill your bag with more plant-strong food than you think you could eat.  Here are a few suggestions that are easy to eat in the car & hold up well all day waiting to defend against an evening snack attack:

Whole Fruits:  Bananas, Apples, Oranges, Pears, Tangerines

Vegetables:  Celery sticks, Carrot sticks, Pea Pods, Steamed or baked potatoes/yams

Jeff Novick Bean Burgers
– 1 Can Kidney Beans, Rinsed and Drained
– 1/2 Cup Regular Oats, Dry
– 1/2 Cup Cooked Brown Rice (or Quinoa!)
– 2 TB Canned Tomatoes (or no-HFCS Ketchup!)
– Spice of choice 

Mash Kidney Beans by hand. Mix together all other ingredients. Divide into 4 or 5 equal size portions. Shape into patties. Let set in refrigerator. Grill (or broil) on each side till golden brown.  Then freeze the cooked patties and throw them in your bag or cooler…instant snack ready any time!

Sandwiches or wraps:  I use toasted Ezekial 4:9 bread (in frozen section of most grocery stores), put a bunch of no-oil hummus on it (you can use Oasis no-oil hummus from Whole Foods, E2 Hummus from Whole Foods, or make your own homemade), and veggies of your choice.  For wraps, Ezekial 4:9 makes a sprouted grain wrap with no oil that also meets E2 guidelines; Engine2 also sells wraps at Whole Foods.  Just be careful to always read labels on your breads and wraps as most are overly processed and contain oil and way too much salt and other crud.

3.  When you feel like pulling through the drive-thru, instead pull out your panic bag, and eat!  Eat everything in that bag if you feel like it, it will be better than eating anything that came through a small bay window and I promise you’ll feel full…of food and a great sense of accomplishment! 🙂

What advice do you have for “completely overwhelmed”?

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Anne works as a strategic account manager for a global media and sensory branding company. She's inspired by music, art, plant-based nutrition, and wandering the great outdoors.

  • Laura
    Posted at 06:22h, 13 February

    I “tried” to do this for the last few months of 2012, trying to slowly incorporate these ideas into my diet, failing miserably. I finally decided to put both feet in for 40 days. I knew 21 days was not enough (as most people say it takes to change habits). I felt so awful, and I have a lot to lose, and though I am all the shades of gray in normal life, I knew I had to go all the way in with both feet if I had any shot at better health.

    In 40 days I lost 20 pounds and immediately knew I wanted to continue this lifestyle indefinitely. You can do this. It works and is far healthier than any “diet” you could ever go on (I dieted my way up to 300 lbs). I acknowledge it is early on for me, but I have never felt so good in all my life. What a relief not to be on another diet of the week or counting calories or points. This is a lifestyle that my body loves. We will do this together!

    • E2X Anne
      Posted at 18:38h, 19 February

      Congrats on your accomplishment, Laura!

  • ANNE
    Posted at 11:38h, 13 February

    Great post! I think a key is also to be forgiving of yourself and realize that this will be hard — but also that it’s achievable. The weight didn’t come on in one day, it’s not going to come off in a day either. One thing that helped me was “easing” into a plant-strong plan… that meant giving up trigger foods like diet coke, which make me crave other high-sugar foods, before I completely transitioned. It helped stop the cravings before they started. One change at a time, one step at a time, one victory at a time!

  • Randy B
    Posted at 11:58h, 13 February

    Hopefully this will be of some help. I’m down 160 lbs in 13 months and this worked for me. The plant strong foods that I like, I cook them on my days off. I put them in baggies then refrigerate them, usually enough for 4-5 days. So when I get hungry all I have to do is put some in a bowl and heat it up. FILL YOUR PLATE with good, healthy, plant base food. Don’t walk away hungry! People at work even ask me “cant you eat all of that”? Don’t start with all of the time consuming recipes first. I personally thought at first that this was to much work. You’ll get to that later once you get a good start. Whole grains and beans fill me up the most and stay with me the longest. At dinner I always steam up a bunch of vegetables with whatever else I plan on eating. Make it interesting so you don’t get board with the same thing. Sometimes its as simple as seasoning it a little different. This will be life changing, it has for me and for some of family members and friends. I really hope this helps you!!!!

  • Tara
    Posted at 13:12h, 13 February

    Thanks, needed this. As a busy mom of a 5 year old and 11 month old, I too start the day with great intentions, then by 2-3pm I feel overwhelmed and dread meal planning. We started plant strong Jan. 1st but I’m still struggling to find my plant strong rhythm. Each meal seems like such effort, even if it’s a simple stir fry. The transition is difficult for my picky 5 year old as her favorite meals were mac’ n’ cheese and chicken nuggets. I’ve tried 4 vegan mac n cheese recipes and she doesn’t like the difference of taste. I know this will take time, but mealtimes were already a struggle with her and now they are even more so. The “chicken” nuggets I give her she will eat, but I don’t want her just eating textured wheat gluten daily. My 11 month old is on formula and my pediatrician will recommend whole milk at our next visit. I’m so conflicted as I now know milk is not the best nutrition, but is fortified rice milk the best? These are the most important years of nutrition and I feel completely overwhelmed with all of these changes and information I’m learning. To anyone else struggling, you are not alone.

    • Sadie
      Posted at 00:48h, 20 February

      Tara- You might want to check out a blog by Emily Malone called The Daily Garnish. She is a chef, and vegan, and has a toddler who is also vegan. She also has a blog on Babble that has more baby/kid related info. She has done several good posts on feeding her baby/toddler. There are lots of other resources for dealing with nutrition for plant strong kids, too. I’m pretty sure I saw a list somewhere on the E2 site recently. Good luck!

  • Cheryl Church Peebles
    Posted at 16:16h, 13 February

    taking a bag of healthy snacks along definetely helps me to keep from grazing. I find at the and of the day I am tired and dragged out – needing a pick me up – a couple of glasses of water, a couple of good tasty crackers and a few celery sticks gets me through til supper is ready. It has taken me a while to realize that I really am probably thirsty more than anything. I am being plant strong to be healthy – the weight loss is an added bonus… Keep up the good work… good intentions can turn into productive results…

  • Donna
    Posted at 23:39h, 13 February

    My first few days I discovered that I needed to eat more often. And I am an attorney who is constantly on the go and in meetings and running from one courthouse to the other. I did not take enough food to work on the first day. I was STARVING when I got home. The second day I took way too much food. But I had a carrot to eat at 10 am and then some rye crackers with hummus around 11, before lunch and was stuck at the courthouse cafeteria for lunch without my food and had a cup of minestrone soup (probably a little high on the salt, but it worked in a pinch)…. then I ate a pear at 2, and then on the way home, I ate some celery sticks and cucumbers while I sat in traffic. The third day I had sliced raw almonds at my desk and nibbled on them when I felt like snacking. Try making a natural peanut butter and honey sandwich and eat it on your way home. And don’t forget to drink water because sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you’re really just thirsty. Find a place where you can get something quick — a taco place that has bean tacos and have them hold the cheese…. at least it’s getting started…. good luck. You just have to think creatively…. and then on the weekend, or your day off, make a bunch of stuff to grab and go — make some E2 cookies or brownies and throw them in your bag…

  • Allyoop
    Posted at 07:44h, 26 February

    One of my tricks to avoid the fast food lure is to make sure I have something yummy at home waiting for me. If I can tell myself wait for the [soup, dish, whatever], I can usually divert myself as I don’t want to waste what I cooked and it usually is good.
    sometimes I work for up to 12 hours and I also pack waaaayyyy more food than I think I will eat. This makes me feel like I’m not depriving myself. As of now, I’m just focusing on changing the content of my meals, not really on the calories.

  • aurora
    Posted at 13:32h, 28 February

    The Hubs and I have been on a plant-based diet. I’ve lost 18lbs and my hubby went from a 34 waist to a 31. Love it and will stick with it!

  • Jules46561
    Posted at 08:40h, 03 March

    Wow – great response and the comments are so encouraging. Congrats to all that have “drawn the line in the sand”. I went two months without seeing the weight loss I wanted to see and had a binge weekend. I was so mad at myself when I realized the weight loss I had was actually more than I have with any other conventional weight loss plan. I’ve drawn the line in the sand and I am not looking back. I also just want to avoid heart disease and diabetes and am elated for the weight loss that has come along with this journey. These are such awesome suggestions. Thanks.

  • Walker
    Posted at 09:30h, 05 March

    Anne, my Wife and I also had a couple of false starts and were very frustrated with the diet. I find that setting up my week on Sunday, create a menu, a shopping list and preparing some foods in advance (having a big bowl of brown rice, cut up vegs and sauces and dressings) makes dinners easier to prepare and less time consuming. We are doing this because of my Wifes health issues and that is the prize that we stay focused on. Good luck and stay plant strong.

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