thoughts on protein
+ a long list of ideas for meals/snacks for paid subscribers!
Hi all — just a quick note that I will be giving a portion of proceeds from this newsletter to World Central Kitchen who’s on the ground in so many of the places people need to be fed.
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Before I get to everything protein, a quick note that my class this Sunday is going to be SOUP-ER (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Join me for this Soup 101 class — we will make Parmesan Soup with Tiny Pasta + Peas (learn to make a flavorful broth!), Creamy Mushroom Soup (rich and delicious and a great lesson in roasting vegetables and turning them into a pureed soup), and Southwest Corn + Potato Chowder (the easiest soup!). We will talk storage and serving tips! This will be a cozy one! » JOIN HERE! «
I recently got an email from someone I know through my classes/this newsletter (hi Christine!) asking me about my thoughts on navigating weightlifting and eating protein while also not getting all diet culture-y about it and also dealing with a doctor who is pushing weight loss and an exclusively plant-based diet and also trying to figure this all out while working, living life, etc.
She’s not the first to ask me this — especially the eating protein part — so I thought maybe it would be interesting/helpful to share my response with all of you (she signed off on this plan!).
Before I share my response to her, I just want to say: I am not a doctor/dietician/therapist/etc. I’m someone who loves food, has struggled with an eating disorder, is committed to having a loving relationship with food and my body, and loves to lift heavy weights (specifically powerlifting — see here) and have strong muscles so I can lift even heavier weights because that’s my idea of fun.
This means that what I’m sharing today is just my own personal lived experience. My intention in sharing is not to tell anyone what to eat (EAT WHATEVER YOU WANT WHENEVER YOU WANT!!!), but to offer a glimpse into how I am currently thinking about all of this in case that’s useful for you.
Also Grace (my better half) said something recently to me that has really stuck with me. I was having some diet culture-y thoughts and Grace told me my body is POWERFUL MACHINE THAT NEEDS TO BE WELL FUELED and that reframing felt really nice, so I offer it to you today! You are POWERFUL!
Here’s what I wrote back to Christine:
Assuming we both want similar things — to feel strong and energized in our bodies and to feel like thinking about what to eat/preparing it/eating it isn't stressful — here's how I approach it....
It's worth finding a doctor who doesn't push weight loss. This can be so hard to find. If you can't, I would push back against your doctor with questions about their insistence on weight loss and a plant based diet — ask for evidence, point out the bias, etc. This is emotional labor! I think it's easier to work with a doctor who already gets it rather than educating one who doesn't. But whatever you do, know you deserve medical care from someone who doesn't discriminate against the size or shape of your body. There are so many great resources on this (see here from , here from , and here also from Virginia to start).
I try to eat some kind of protein (animal and/or plant-based) at most meals and try to make sure my snacks have some protein, too. I do this because I want my muscles to be strong and I want to feel full and satisfied, which I find I do when I eat a lot of protein. I also find the more protein I eat, the more energy I have and the less sore I get. I do not calculate protein grams because that veers way too close to tracking food for me, which is something I used to do when I restricted my eating and I refuse to go down that slope again. If not every meal or snack includes something with protein, I don’t stress about it. Other than trying to fit in a lot of protein, I eat whatever I want, which includes lots of bread, pasta, cheese, and vegetables because I love all of those things. I try to eat what I'm in the mood for. To make my life easier in the kitchen, I like to batch cook stuff and re-purpose through the week and just cook with a sense of abundance so that I always have plenty of stuff to work with. For example, I always cook more rice than I know Grace and I will eat so I can make fried rice the next day. If I’m grilling chicken, I’ll grill extra to throw into salads and turn into sandwiches. I also bring home a share from Full Fridge Club every week so that makes life very easy!
I think it might be useful to share my favorite protein-rich meals + snacks. Don’t forget how good simple stuff can be! Here you go!