By Jean Miner, MD
“Dinner thoughts?” This is the text I all too frequently send my husband while leaving the hospital after a full day of surgery or clinic. As a doctor, the virtues of exercising and eating healthy is something I routinely discuss with my patients. But, personally as a surgeon juggling a career, various committees and a family (with twin toddlers) it is much easier said than done.
However, I have learned a few tricks to maintain a healthier diet. Is it perfect? No. Is it doable? Yes.
First, I got tech savvy and educated myself. I took advantage of websites and apps that allowed me to search nutritional data for fresh and packaged foods and even restaurant dishes. I joined a recipe website and created a virtual recipe box which now has over 200 recipes catalogued and available at my fingertips. Not just are the recipes sorted by the occasions, there are filters to search through them based on time needed to make a dish and necessary ingredients. So handy after a late night shift but so much healthier than pre-packaged meals I would have popped in the microwave otherwise!
Next, I started to plan ahead. Before, because we waited until the last minute before deciding what we were going to eat, we would inevitably end up with restaurant take-out or scrounging through the pantry. The former being less healthy and the latter leaving me unsatisfied (leading to late night snacking). As I started planning my meals, we made it a habit to take some time out on Sunday mornings to look through our recipes, plan for the week ahead and shop early before the crowds start. If there is any prep work that I can accomplish ahead of time, I do it on the weekend. Often, we will cook double recipes allowing leftovers to be brought for lunch the next day or stored in our freezer. Despite my hospital providing food for us, I still typically pack my lunch the night before with plenty of options for me depending on my time and mood. This keeps me from starving myself or eating the pastries always available in the OR lounge. Also, if you are like me and often rush out in the morning forgetting your lunch, put your keys on top of it in the fridge – I promise you will remember it!
Finally, when everything was working for us we decided to take it to the next level and start splurging. The purchase of a freezer allowed us to store pre-made meals and proteins for those days when cooking is out of the question but defrosting is not. With all the extra space, next came a vacuum sealer to help store our goodies. Recently, we have begun utilizing food delivery services about once a month. Personally, I prefer those where I can choose the recipes and they deliver the pre-portioned ingredients to me. It allows me to cook and try new recipes most of which take less than 45 minutes. From a healthy standpoint, it is perfect because the nutritional data is posted next to the recipes when choosing. For friends of mine who don’t love to cook there are companies which will deliver precooked healthy meals to your house.
By adopting these changes, our meals are healthier and more importantly……the dinner stress is gone.
My Food Diary
Food delivery services:
A few of my favorite cooking tips/tricks……..
- Save all of your vegetable scraps in a gallon bag and store in your freezer. When it is full, pour into a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain and you have your own delicious, no sodium vegetable broth. (The same can be done with shrimp heads or the remnants of a rotisserie chicken)
- Whenever you have leftover rice, freeze it. It defrosts well and is perfect for a healthy fried rice dish (cold rice works better). http://www.slenderkitchen.com/recipe/healthy-fried-rice
- Buy and cook in season. Not only are the fruits and vegetables fresher but cheaper. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide
Jean Miner is an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and a Surgical Attending with Florida Hospital’s General Surgery Residency. She has a Masters in Medical Education Leadership from the University of New England. Her work life is in equilibrium with her personal life as a mother of three girls who loves spending time with her husband and family traveling the country and world. In her “spare time” she loves to cook, be outdoors and read as many books as she can.
Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.