Seven Tips That Make Dieting Strategies Work

1. Drink Your Water

It’s important to stay well hydrated on a diet. I often hear that people can mistake thirst for hunger. Is this true? The jury is still out, but the next time you get a hunger pang, drink a glass of water first. If you really are just thirsty…problem solved. If you are really hungry, the water will help to fill up some of your stomach space so you won’t scarf down a bag of chips. Tip: Water may be the most boring beverage on the planet, so add a bit of flavored carbonated water to jazz it up. I like La Croix.

2. Remove Sugar

If you want to lose weight, you have to remove the SUGAR. Sugar makes it easy for our bodies to store fat. Removing sugar out of your life is a tried and true way to shed and keep off the pounds. Tip: Sugar is found in many forms, so if you’re trying to reduce sugar intake you also have to stop eating the foods that act like sugar in our bodies. Whether you put a spoon full of table sugar in your mouth or chomp on a bagel, the effect is the same. For a complete list of these foods, http://www.olsonnd.com/what-foods-that-act-like-sugar/

3. Eat Smaller Portions

We love “super-size”! It makes sense, right? More food for your buck. When it comes to a good value maybe, but when it comes to good health, “super-size” is the enemy. Be mindful of the amount of food you consume at every sitting. Tip: use smaller bowls and plates for your portions. It will look like a lot of food, and it will be just the right amount. When possible, use a scale, and when eating out avoid anything with the words “all-you-can-eat” and never “super-size” anything unless you are going to share it with at least four or more people.

4. Eat Your Vegetables
Vegetables are superstar foods. Not only are they low in calories, they are high in fiber. Vegetables are a great replacement for rice, pasta and other starchy foods during weight loss. Non-starchy vegetables are the best selection for weight loss; they include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumbers, field greens, spinach and more. Tip: Eat your veggies first to fill up most of the space in your stomach.

5. Get Enough Protein
Protein is the best fill-me-up food. It’s more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats because it keeps you feeling full for longer. Protein also helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning. Tip: Include healthy proteins like lean meat, sugar free yogurt, cheese, nuts, or beans into every meal and snack.  If your choice is a carb or a protein, go with the protein.

6. Limit Late Night Snacking
Dangerous snacking occurs most often after dinner, when you finally sit down and relax. Snacking while reading or watching TV is one of the easiest ways to throw your diet off course. If you are going to snack, make sure it is a low-calorie snack like fruit, low-fat cheese or a sugar free yogurt with a serving size of no more than 100 calories. Tip: Brush your teeth right after dinner. This is your signal that eating is done for the day.

7. Get Moving
Regular exercise is an important part of effective weight loss. It helps to control your weight by using excess calories that otherwise would be stored as fat.  Enjoy your exercise routine whatever it may be; sports, a trip to the gym, bike riding, walking, household activities, yard work, or work-related tasks — all are beneficial. Tip: Do some kind of movement EVERY SINGLE DAY, even if it’s just for 5 minutes while you are watching your favorite show. Make a game out of it. Every time your favorite character says his catch phrase do 10 jumping jacks, or 20 sit-ups, or 5 squats, or whatever.

Navigating Fast Food Traps – How To Make The Best Choices

Fast Food is a fact of life for most of us, especially if you have kids. If you are like the rest of us who eat fast food anywhere from one to five times per week, here is a great website that lists nutritional information for many fast food and family type restaurants, and it is free!

http://www.fastfoodnutrition.org/

One of my best tips for fast food (or restaurants) is to know what you are going to order before you step inside the restaurant. The list from http://www.fastfoodnutrition.org will hopefully help you decide on a healthy choice before hand. If you can, make your choice while you have a full stomach and take the time to consider all the nutritional information. When you get to the restaurant, don’t even look at the menu board… just order what you have already planned… no matter what.

 

Also….

Drink water with your meal. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. One 32-oz regular cola has about 425 calories, so this can quickly make up a big portion of your daily calorie intake. Try adding a little lemon to your water or ordering unsweetened iced tea.

“Undress” your food. When choosing items, be aware of calorie- and fat-packed salad dressings, spreads, cheese, sour cream, etc. For example, ask for a grilled chicken sandwich without the mayonnaise. You can ask for a packet of ketchup or mustard and add it yourself, controlling how much you put on your sandwich. Eat an open face sandwich by removing one of the buns.

Watch portion size. An average fast food meal can run as high as 1000 calories or more, so choose a smaller portion size, skip the fries, and don’t supersize anything… EVER. At a typical restaurant, a single serving provides enough for two meals. Plan on taking home half by dividing the meal into two before you even start eating.

Remember the big picture. Think of eating out in the context of your whole diet. If it is a special occasion, or you know you want to order your favorite meal at a nice restaurant, make sure your earlier meals that day are extra healthy. Moderation is always key, but planning ahead can help you relax and enjoy eating out while maintaining good nutrition and diet control.

Some fast food restaurants are working hard to make their food both healthier and tastier. One example is Chipotle, where their motto is “Food with Integrity”. Their objective is to serve food that is better tasting, comes from better sources, is better for the environment, better for the animals, better for the farmers, and in turn this produces food that is better for us to eat. Unfortunately their portion sizes are still huge, so be sure to always pay attention to calories and fat content. Chipotle is by far my favorite fast food place. I order the Chicken Bowl with no rice, no beans, but double the chicken, double the corn salsa, double the tomato salsa, and of course NO cheese and NO sour cream. With all the veggies and extra chicken, this bowl lasts for two complete meals!

Fast food happens, just be sure to make it a smart way of eating healthy. It can be done.  Click here for an article where Nutritionists talk about what they eat when dining out.

Maintaining Nutrients In Your Body For Peak Performance

Nutrients are needed as spare parts for the repair of cellular tissues, and to ensure your cells operate correctly. When your nutrient levels are low for a particular one that your body needs, it starts to malfunction. As you can imagine, this leads to a host of issues from feeling sluggish to weight gain to poor health.

There are two important concepts for nourishing your body:

  1. Variety of Food
  2. Nutrient Denseness of Food

Variety of Food

No single food contains all the nutrients the body needs. It’s easy to get in a food rut, but if you get in the habit of eating only a few foods, it is virtually guaranteed that you will run low in certain nutrients. So, embrace your inner Andrew Zimmern and mix up your diet, try new foods, and do a winter, spring, summer, and fall rotation with the foods you eat by EATING WHAT IS IN SEASON.

Nutrient-Dense Food

We should try to focus on foods that contribute to our health, by having at least some discipline to not eat foods that undermine it.

Nutrient-empty foods aren’t worth eating unless they taste so good to you that your happiness is very positively affected… and even then, unless you are willing to sacrifice good health for the pleasures that these foods bring to the moment, try to save these celebration foods for “rare occasions”.

I recently read an article that categorized foods like this:

  1. Celebration Foods
  2. Fuel Foods
  3. Nutrient Dense Foods.

Celebration Foods should not be eaten frequently, but should be reserved for parties and special occasions:

  • Processed grain products, white flour products (cakes, pastries, and noodles), white-rice, etc.
  • Sugary foods such as ice cream, candy, soda pop, syrups, etc.
  • Yep – all the sweet, yummy, good stuff

Fuel Foods are nutritious and important to provide energy for activity and exercise. But here’s the thing – if you are completely sedentary, they actually provide more calories for the amount of nutrients provided. So make sure that you are doing some kind of physical activity to get the benefits from Fuel Foods.

  • Grains (whole grain bread, whole grain rice, etc.)
  • Fruits

Nutrient Dense Foods should be eaten daily and by everyone:

  • Vegetables
  • Raw nuts
  • Fish
  • Good fat foods such as Avocados and Olives
  • Uncooked oil extracts (extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil, cold pressed oils for example)
  • Lean meats
  • Eggs

Don’t underestimate the power of nutrients. Keep your engine running at peak performance by focusing on nutrient dense foods as part of every meal.

Math 101

The other day, I had someone ask me the best way to lose weight. I told her that it is all about the math. If you eat too many calories, you are going to gain weight. If you want to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories or burn more calories. End of story.

Then someone else joined the conversation and said, “And it is also the type of calories you eat, right?” From a purely mathematical perspective, the type of calories isn’t important. If you eat 5000 calories of healthy, organic, low fat food, you will gain weight. If you eat 5000 calories of chocolate cake, you will gain weight, but the cake will also do more harm to your body than just weight gain, but the weight gain will be the same.

Don’t confuse eating healthy with eating to lose weight. The two definitely go hand in hand, but pure weight loss is all about consuming less calories. You can eat healthy and become healthier without losing any weight. But if weight loss is your goal, you must cut calories. Some people think that if they just eat healthy foods or add a fruit or vegetable, it will be enough to cause them to lose weight. However, if they are eating the same amount of calories or more,… no weight loss. They may lower their cholesterol or reverse heart damage, but no weight loss.

I know that I have written posts about adding one piece of fruit a day or one veggie a day, and this is a great way to jump start healthier eating practices which usually leads to cutting calories as well, but in the end it is all about the math. Eat fewer calories or burn more calories or both.

It took me 25 years to figure this out, but I didn’t realize how critical the math aspect was to diet and exercise until very recently. I have always had a fairly healthy diet, but now that I am acutely aware of the numbers, it takes the guess work out of a lot of menu items. It also has made me allow myself to have an “unhealthy treat” now and then. If a sweet potato and a peanut butter cookie have the same amount of calories, sometimes I choose the cookie and I don’t feel guilty.

So, click on the Calorie Need Calculator under Links to find out your where your numbers need to be. With the right math, you will be losing weight in no time.

PSYCHOLOGY of a SMART DIET

As you know, I am always trying to find the newest info on all things having to do with fitness and nutrition. It is harder than you think. I end up reading many articles that say the same thing and discuss the same concepts that have been written about for over a decade. Blah, blah, blah.

However, I recently read an article on FitClick. This is one of my “go to” sites. It is also a great site if you want to participate in an interactive type online fitness system.

Here is the gist of the article:

The article talks about eating habits. We all have them. Some are good. Some are bad. One of the most important things you can do to ensure success when it come to weight loss is maintain good eating habits.

Are you the type of person to shovel snacks into your mouth while at the computer or t.v., barely noticing the taste or amount of the food you’re eating? Do you still believe it’s a crime not to finish everything on your plate? I call this the starving kids in China syndrome. My dad used to say this quite often. Then as we got older, he changed it to “waste not want not”. I heard this all my life… actually as recently as last Sunday. Some eating habits make it impossible to take off those extra pounds because they are so ingrained you aren’t even conscious of them.

The good news: You can absolutely learn to break these old patterns and substitute better ones, which is a key ingredient to a successful diet. Even better news: In time, these healthy routines will become such a part of your life, they will be second nature. That means not only can you lose the weight but you can keep it off, too.

The article includes nine tips that I think are very compelling …. and these tips are “new to the scene”!

1) Less is more.”If you eat less often, it will become a smaller issue in your life,” says James Rosen, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of University of Vermont’s Weight Control Program. “Contrary to popular belief, ‘grazing,’ or eating several small meals and snacks throughout the day, isn’t a good way to lose weight for people with self-control issues. The more often you eat, the more you expect food is going to be available, and the more you think that it’s okay to eat whenever and wherever you feel like it.”

I have gotten caught up in this trap, and it is very easy to end up eating way more calories than you realize. So, if you know you are one of those people with self-control issues, decide on your eating times—not more than three or four times a day—and don’t eat in between, no matter the size of the snack.


2) Declare a No-Food Zone. Decide on the eating places in your house—just your dining room table, for example—and declare other places No Food Zones. If you have a habit of eating in your car, in front of the television, or while you’re at the computer, make those No Food Zones—even for healthy snacks. If you train yourself to eat only in very specific situations, you will learn to control food cravings outside of normal meal times.

3) Remember: Location, Location, Location.”Make sure that you eat your meals in one certain place,” recommends Robert Jamison, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and an associate professor at Harvard Medical school. “When you have a craving, tell yourself you can have whatever you want, but you have to eat it in an unusual place—like the bathroom or garage—that doesn’t have familiar environmental cues like the couch in the TV room.” So, if you really want that hot fudge sundae go ahead and eat it, but eat it in the garage,” says Jamison. It won’t be as much fun, so you might stop and think about whether you’re eating it because you’re hungry, because of a craving, because you had a long day and you think you deserve it, or because you’re watching your favorite show. The more conscious you are of what you are doing, the more chance that you’ll make changes.”

This tip sounds a little crazy, but so crazy that it just might be the thing to change a bad eating habit. Definitely worth a try.

4) Make rules and stick to them.”To avoid calories, you can simply establish a rule for yourself: Never eat anything unless you bought it or asked for it,” explains Jamison. “That way, you won’t have to torture yourself every time someone brings cupcakes to work.” Not to mention birthday parties, goodbye parties, Valentine’s Day, Girl Scout cookie season, Halloween…

I love this one. In our house we are rule makers and rule followers, and very rarely do we deviate from the rules. This is probably because we have a 5 and 6 year old in the house. But really, I am a “slippery slope” type person. If I deviate today, what’s to say I won’t deviate next time, and the time after that… slippery slope. So I just stick to the rules, and make everyone else in the house stick to them as well.

5) Eat dessert first.This is for the dessert lovers.. You know who you are. Do you always vow to skip dessert but end up ordering it anyway once the waiter brings the dessert menu? Judith S. Stern, Sc.D., professor of nutrition and internal medicine at University of California says, “If you are going to eat dessert, eat it first.” Why? “Because of what is called the Thanksgiving Dinner Effect. You’re stuffed and can’t eat another bite—but then dessert comes, and you seem to all of a sudden be able to find room for a piece of pumpkin pie. So don’t try to avoid the inevitable. Eat dessert, but know that you must order less for the rest of your meal. You might get some stares, but so what?”

I love dessert, but I am not a dessert person because of calories and nutrition. Desserts are a once and a while special treat. If you are not generally a dessert person, this tip is not a free pass to start eating desserts.

6) Exercise before dinner.”Exercising temporarily decreases your appetite, so if you want to avoid overeating, work out before a meal,” says James O. Prochaska Ph.D., a clinical and health psychologist. “One of the reasons weight loss is so tough is that it’s not dependent on a single behavior, it’s about how much we eat and how many calories we burn up. The most common mistake people make is trying to simply reduce calories without exercising.”

This tip is also very compelling. It is not always practical to exercise before dinner, but what if you went for a short walk, jumped rope 100 times, did 100 sit-ups or 100 jumping jacks… just some short burst of exercise. Worth a try!

7) You’ve got your whole meal in your hand.”If you want to lose weight, the most important element is not what you eat—it’s how much you eat,” says George L. Blackburn, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of the Division of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School. “People don’t realize the volume of food they’re eating and the speed at which they’re eating it. To figure out how much you should be eating, put your hand over your plate and see how many palm- or fistfuls of food you have on it. A serving size of meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of the palm of your hand; your closed fist is the volume of one cup of pasta or rice. Don’t forget that you have your measuring device with you everywhere you go. Also make sure at least twenty minutes passes between the start and end of a meal—even if you have to get up and leave the table somewhere in between first and last bite.”

This is the “no excuses” tip. There is no excuse to not be aware of the serving size of every single thing you eat.

8) Eat mindfully.”Another source of people overeating is the hectic pace of life that afflicts virtually everyone,” says Michael Lowe, Ph.D., professor of clinical and health psychology at University in Philadelphia. “We get geared up, and eating becomes an afterthought; we simply grab things to eat along the way. So set aside half an hour of calm, relaxed, focused eating for each meal. Mindful eating—when you’re aware of what you’re choosing to eat and how much you are eating and when you are starting to feel full—is difficult when you’re grabbing what you can find and gobbling it in front of the television before running out the door to a meeting.”

If you are thinking that a calm, free, focused 1/2 hour is hard to come by several times a day, I call bull sh** (as my husband would say). You are not making a healthy diet your priority. If you really want to, you can set aside a 1/2 hour or even 20 minutes for each meal to ensure you are eating mindfully all day long.

9) Stay positive.”Analyze how you’re eating and exercising, but take a benevolent and accepting attitude,” says Dan Kirschenbaum, Ph.D., director of the Center for Behavioral Medicine in Chicago. “Don’t be moralistic. When you eat a piece of chocolate cake, don’t think of it as ‘cheating or failure’.’ Instead, focus on staying positive, and see your overeating as a problem to be solved, not as a moral transgression. Eating is your normal response to stimuli; it is tough to break established patterns and keep resisting it all the time. Keep fighting the good fight, don’t give up, be proud of any progress you’ve made.”

Consider these tips and start to incorporate them into your routine. Before you know it your good eating habits will far outweigh the bad.

Back to the starving kids for a minute… Have you ever heard of left overs? Instead of cleaning your plate until you are completely and painfully stuffed, save a little from each meal. At the end of the week you can have left over day. We do this every week. By Friday, we have a nice variety of food. A pork chop here, a hamburger patty there, some left over chicken, extra noodles. It is kind of fun because each person gets their favorite, or we all have a few bites of everything – a true smorgasbord. Think of the money you will save because you don’t have to buy food for an extra dinner…. you can send that money to your favorite country with starving kids.

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