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.

All You Need Is The Right Tool – 9 Best Kitchen Tools for Healthy Food Prep

imagesCAI5SIDKOne of the most effective ways to stay on track with a diet is to COOK AT HOME. But there’s more to a healthy kitchen than a well-stocked fridge and a pantry full of pre-portioned snacks.

My husband can fix almost anything. His favorite saying is “all you need is the right tool”. This is true when it comes to cooking healthy too. How you prepare and enjoy your meals matters almost as much as what you’re eating. The following are must-have items that will help turn your kitchen into a weight loss machine:

 

1. Food processor

You can purchase a mini or full-size processor for chopping or shredding vegetables, fresh herbs, and nuts with ease. It will also puree and let you sneak vitamin-rich cauliflower, broccoli, squash, and sweet potatoes into sauces and spreads or even soups. Whip up healthy hummus, pesto, and marinades, too. You can also try a handheld blender; they work well for smoothies.

 

2. Knives

Any smart weight loss program will call for plenty of vegetables, and a sharp knife will make all that cutting, chopping, and slicing much easier. Make sure you have a chef’s knife, a slicer, and a paring/utility knife, plus a sharpener (dull knives make prep work far less enjoyable). Armed with these, you can start your week off with containers full of red pepper strips, celery stalks, carrot sticks, and insert your favorite veggies here ____ for easy snacking. Embrace your inner Top Chef!

 

3. Downsize plates and glasses

Average plate sizes seem to be getting bigger and bigger. The bigger your plate, the more likely you are to load it up with food. Replace your 12-inch dinner plates with 9-inch salad plates, and then fill them up with high-fiber, low-calorie greens and beans plus smaller portions of healthy carbs and meat.

When it comes to glasses, Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab researchers found that individuals pour more of a beverage into short wide glasses versus tall narrow ones http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/.  I always tell people not to drink their calories, but if you want to have a morning OJ or a Friday night cocktail, choose a taller, narrower glass (think Tom Collins instead of rocks). But for water, choose the biggest goblet you can find: Many people mistake thirst for hunger, so staying hydrated can help you avoid needless snacking.

 

4. Salad spinner

This kitschy tool lets you simultaneously wash and dry your greens. Spinach and lettuce will last longer if stored dry.

 

5. Mini zip-close bags or small tupperware type containers

Use them to hold individual servings of nuts, dried fruit, granola, cheese, and other easy-to-gobble items. There is nothing worse than mindlessly eating handful after handful right out of the bag, and before you know it consuming 100’s of calories in an otherwise healthy snack.

 

6. Oil mister

These gadgets allow you to add just a spritz of heart-healthy oil without overdosing on fat. Think avocado oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil. Mist veggies prior to roasting them, or add some flavor to salads. You should also keep your pantry stocked with nonstick cooking spray, which allows you to whip up everything from scrambled eggs to chicken breasts without butter or oil.

 

7. Micro plane grater/zester

Use this tool to grate small amounts of flavorful cheese into soups, salads, and more. It will also zest oranges, lemons, and limes which can pack in a lot of flavor without adding any calories.

 

8. Slow cooker

If you don’t like cooking but love coming home to a house that smells delicious, this is the tool for you. I am not a great cook… ask any of my friends, but I can rock a slow cooker. It’s hard to screw up any meal when a crockpot is your tool of choice.  Slow cookers can turn basic ingredients such as chopped vegetables, chicken, broth, and spices into low-fat, down-home comfort food. And if you have a hot, delicious meal waiting for you, you’ll be less likely to open the fridge and mindlessly snack while you wonder, “What should I make for dinner?”

 

9. Spices

A fully stocked spice cabinet lets you add flavorful, calorie-free punches to food. You’ll save on fat and sodium, too. Staples include:

Basil for pasta and veggies

Bay leaves for flavoring stocks, sauces, and stews

Cayenne pepper (red pepper) for a spicy kick

Cinnamon for hot cereals such as oatmeal or in baking

Crushed red pepper flakes to add heat to spaghetti, soups, sauces, marinades, and meats

Cumin for chili or Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern foods

Dill for fish or potatoes; mix with low-fat yogurt or sour cream for a vegetable dip

Garlic powder for any recipe that calls for garlic flavor

Oregano for tomato-based sauces as well as stews and vegetables

Rosemary for lamb, chicken, potatoes, stews, sauces, vegetables, and fresh breads

Rubbed Sage for chicken, turkey, stuffing, and pork chops

Thyme for hearty roasted or baked dishes as well as vegetables

Superbowl Sunday – Hooray Food!

Can you believe The Super Bowl is this Sunday. As disappointed as I am that the Broncos will not be there, I am still looking forward to the food. Every Fitness/Diet/Nutrition/Health related website has recipe tips for the big day. I thought I would throw mine into the mix also.

Anytime we go to someone’s house with food in hand, my husband doesn’t want me to bring anything that tastes or looks too healthy. I guess he feels like I am fanatical enough about food, that I don’t need to subject our friends to “that” kind of food.
So especially on Sunday, I have to bring something great. But I also want it to be healthy, even if I have to mask it as indulgent.
Here are a few recipes I am considering, and they can all be made ahead of time.

Southwestern Layered Bean Dip

1 16-ounce can nonfat re fried beans, preferably “spicy”
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
4 scallions, sliced1/2 cup prepared salsa
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup jalapeño slices, chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack, or Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup zero fat Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 medium tomato, chopped1 medium avocado, chopped
1/4 cup canned sliced black olives, (optional)

Preparation

Combine re fried beans, black beans, scallions, salsa, cumin, chili powder and jalapeños in a medium bowl. Transfer to a shallow 2-quart microwave-safe dish; sprinkle with cheese. Microwave on High until the cheese is melted and the beans are hot, 3 to 5 minutes.Spread yogurt evenly over the hot bean mixture, then scatter with lettuce, tomato, avocado and olives (if using).
Nutrition Per serving:
146 calories; 7 g fat (3 g sat, 3 g mono); 12 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 5 g fiber; 288 mg sodium; 164 mg potassium.
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Creamy Spinach Dip (notice the veggies as dippers)

1 small shallot, peeled
1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed
1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchâtel)
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 ounces baby spinach
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preparation

Pulse shallot and water chestnuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pulse until just combined. Add spinach and chives and pulse until incorporated.
Nutrition Per 1/4-cup serving:
54 calories; 3 g fat (2 g sat, 1 g mono); 10 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 1 g fiber; 222 mg sodium; 102 mg potassium
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Chocolate Crunch

1 cup Wheat Chex cereal,
(2 ounces)1 cup pretzel sticks broken in half,
(2 ounces)1/4 cup raw almonds,
(2 1/2 ounces)3 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
Preparation
Combine Chex, pretzels and almonds in a medium bowl.
Drizzle with melted chocolate; stir to combine. Spread the mixture on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
Tip: To melt chocolate: Microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium in 20-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. Or place in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.
Nutrition Per serving:
218 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber; 397 mg sodium; 176 mg potassium

When Emotional Eating Tops the List

We eat for all sorts of different reasons, and sometimes actual hunger is low on the list. Emotional eating can often top the list. People eat when they are stressed, sad, or even happy and celebrating. My biggest trap is boredom. I think I am hungry, but usually I am just bored.

The problem with emotional eating is that we often choose the crappy, I mean comfort, foods that are high in calories, high in fat, high in carbs, and low in nutrients. We all have those bouts of emotional eating. And it’s pretty likely that we will get trapped by emotional eating again and again, so take a few steps now to minimize the caloric damage later.

Out of sight, out of your mouth. When your emotional triggers kick in, one of the easiest ways to break the habit of reaching for the junk is to simply remove it from your house. If you don’t have a bag of chips in the pantry or a pint of ice cream in the freezer, you can’t indulge in it.

I know, sometimes it’s easier said than done. I try to keep the junk to a minimum, but if we have guests over, there are always left over treats lurking in the pantry, fridge, and freezer. The money conscious me has a hard time throwing away perfectly good food.

However, make a plan for a monthly kitchen clean out. Check the cupboard, pantry, fridge, and freezer to throw away any unhealthy foods that may have crept back in. When you’re at the grocery, adopt a ‘just say no’ attitude. Avoid buying chips, cookies, ice cream or whatever other junk foods you like. Tip: strictly follow a healthy shopping list and never go to the store hungry.

But what if you’re emotional trigger kicks in, and that pint of ice cream is still in the freezer. And it’s calling your name? Before you touch that freezer door, take a moment to think, “Is this going to make me feel better?” The immediate answer is probably YES.  But sometimes, you just need to step back and have a moment of clarity. Also, consider negotiating with yourself: Tell yourself you’ll wait 20 minutes (set the timer even), and if you’re still craving that ice cream, allow yourself a small scoop and toss the rest.

When emotions overwhelm us, our first instinct may be to reach for something salty, fatty, or sweet, but these empty-calorie foods are not the ones our bodies need to really feel good. The next time you’re tempted to make yourself feel better or celebrate with food, be sure to weigh the positive and negative consequences. Yes, you may feel a little better right after a few bites of chocolate cake, but within an hour, you’ll likely start regretting it, and worse yet, seek consolation in more of the same.

Another Reason to Exercise

 

There is a study for everything these days. Almost any topic you can think of will have some kind of study proving it or disproving it.  And some of those studies seem like a complete waste of money or a complete no-brainer. For example “Eating at restaurants boosts risk of weight gain”, well duh. “Drinking alcohol leads to drunkenness”, double duh.  And just one more for good measure “Women prefer dating thin, hot, rich men to fat, ugly, poor ones”.

Luckily, there are actually some good studies out there too.  I don’t write as often about specific studies, but I found this one very encouraging. Science rocks!

The study explains that exercise may encourage healthy eating. Okay, I know some of you are thinking duh, but the reason it inspires healthy eating may not be what you think.

Exercise can actually change the parts of the brain that influence impulsive behavior.  With fast food on every corner, baked goods in the office break room on a weekly basis, eating out more often due to busy lives, we are surrounded by temptations and triggers that make it easy to over-eat.  The researchers state that the part of the brain responsible for “control” undergoes “relentless strain”.  Amen to that!

The study indicates that there is evidence that regular physical exercise changes the structure of the brain and how it works by increasing the connections in the grey matter and prefrontal cortex.  One result of these increased connections is improved inhibitory control. It keeps us in check on impulsive, excessive, or inappropriate behavior, like eating a jar of frosting for breakfast, perhaps.

By actually changing parts of the brain that influence impulsive behavior, increased physical activity may help compensate and suppress those feelings that drive us to over-eat.

With regular exercise, our brains learn to more easily resist the many temptations that we are faced with every day, especially where supersized calorie food is everywhere.  

Exercise also brings other benefits, such as making the brain more sensitive to physiological signs of fullness, which helps to control appetite.

Do studies make things absolutely true? Not necessarily, but there are a bazillion benefits to exercise, and if you need a bazillion and one to get moving, here you go! Please exercise.

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