Profile of Hope: Tracey Tann Parker -- Changes she made to get healthy, Part I, Food Changes

Editor August 10th, 2009

Tracey Tann Parker is a full-time nurse in the coronary care unit of Beth Israel Medical Center and a part-time, dual-degree nursing and public health student at Hunter College. Here Tracey explains how she found creative ways to eat right with her busy schedule.

Q: What were some of the changes you made?

A: Since I was working nights and so busy with school, I didn't really have a set time for eating. I was just trying to keep up with the readings and my assignments-I was eating because I had to and not really paying attention to what was going into my body. The school assignment had me focus on what I was eating and how I never had time to have an actual meal. I would just grab something along the way. Constantly being on the move limited my food options, so I started eating soups. You can always sit on a bus or train and eat a cup of soup.A hamburger deluxe-that's too messy! I would also buy a bunch of fruit cups, like Dole or Del Monte, and throw them in my bag. I would eat those instead of bread and I noticed that after eating one, I was satisfied. I didn't need the bread and I could wait until later to have a real meal. I also started drinking more water. That was really good for me because before I was drinking a lot of Pepsi (by the 2 liter bottle).

Q: Did you make any other changes in the foods you were eating?

A: I'm a heavy starch eater. I don't really like cake or candy, but give me a plate of lasagna, spaghetti, mac n' cheese, or potato salad and I'll clear it out. I tried to substitute some vegetables for some of that stuff. I found a place that sold homemade soups and pastas and had a great salad bar. I would have their pasta once a week and the rest of the time have soup or salad. As I continued doing this, I started finding all those other foods less appealing. When I went to a buffet after I changed my eating style and looked at the foods I used to eat, I would actually notice the gravy and oil rising to the top. I'd look at it and think, "Yuck! It's been sitting in that all day." I didn't want to eat it anymore.

My family has a history of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I was okay with that that so far, but I was getting pretty close to having a problem. I really didn't want to take medication so I started paying more attention to the salt content in the foods I was buying. I looked at labels and bought things that were low in sodium. I switched from Seven Seas to Paul Newman's salad dressing because I read the label and saw there was significantly less sodium and cholesterol in the Newman's brand. I made several other similar changes like, if I was going to eat French fries I would just use ketchup, not salt and ketchup because the ketchup already has salt in it. Same thing with hot sauce. Instead of using salt, ketchup and hot sauce I would pick one and use it.

Read more from Tracey Tann Parker by clicking the links below:

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