Family Friendly Fit Tricks for Healthy Weight Management

fridge_pic-full[1]I love Google. I use it for almost everything, including health care, how to do whatever, recipes, shopping, and more. But Googling weight loss is like opening Pandora’s Box. There are way too many sites and supplements that are questionable at best, aimed at your pocket book rather than your waist line. Here are five family friendly fit tricks for healthy weight management.

1. Build a healthy home environment. It can be as simple as having a fruit bowl on the table, rather than a bin full of fruit tucked away at the bottom of the fridge. Keeping healthy food visible encourages kids (and adults) to grab and go when they are hungry and in a hurry. Keep cut up veggies, yogurt, or fruit salad front and center in the fridge. When a kid (or adults) opens the refrigerator to mindlessly search for snacks, the healthy option will catch their eye.

2. Purchase small portions and limited amounts of convenience food that is high in sugar and fat. Pre-portion any junky snacks in little ramekin cups, baggies, or mini cupcake liners, so there is no mindless eating from the bag of chips or cookie box. Store these items in the images[9]pantry on a higher shelf so they are less visible.

3. Make physical activity a routine, and make it fun. Take a walk or walk the dog after dinner to unwind. Get up during commercials while watching your favorite show and play catch with a Nerf ball, or strike up a game of balloon volleyball with your kids.

4. Eat meals around the table, at home as often as possible. Family meals offer kids a chance to see parents eating healthy. Show how to load the plate with a variety of vegetables and smaller portions of meat and carbs. Meat packs between 55-110 calories per ounce, so it’s easy to pack on the pounds when the portion shifts even a couple of ounces on a regular basis (especially as you age).

5. Praise yourself and your kids when you practice the skills and behaviors linked with healthy eating. Give high fives after those active commercial breaks. Notice when you and your kids have put in the effort to taste an unfamiliar food and choose healthy options over the junk.


How You Eat Affects How Much You Eat

What we eat and how much we eat can be key to staying fit and healthy, but how we eat can be equally as important. With a few simple strategies, changing the way you eat can automatically affect the ‘how much’ you eat.

With our busy lives it can often seem like we mindlessly go through our day. This includes during meal times. Here are a few simple tricks that you can use during every meal to keep your weight in check.

1. Take time during meals to truly savor every bite you eat. Eat slowly. Chew each morsel and taste the food you put into your body. Turn off the television, radio, and any distractions, and allow meal time to be a time of relaxation and enjoyment.

2. Use a plate. Eating directly out of the box or package can easily lead to overeating. When you don’t set aside a portion, that small handful of almonds quickly becomes two, then three and so on. Take time to put a serving of food on a plate or in a bowl. Eat that portion and only that portion. One of my favorite tricks is to use a smaller plate to eat meals. A small plate loaded with veggies and chicken seems like a lot of food, but in terms of calories it’s a very reasonable amount. The message your brain receives is that the plate is full, so it should be more than enough to eat.

3. Use hunger as your guide. Let your stomach tell you when you’re hungry and full… not your brain. Eat when you feel hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. Often we let the clocks guide our eating: it’s noon, so it must be lunchtime. We often eat whether we’re actually hungry or not. We also allow ourselves to finish an entire meal without even realizing we were full 15 minutes earlier. Our stomach is full, but our brain says keep eating, force-feeding ourselves out of habit. The way to stop this is through awareness and listening to our bodies. It is helpful to stop eating when you are 80% full and allow your brain to catch up with your stomach to signal it is full. This really works, but it can be difficult to do. Once you’ve developed a lifestyle that includes a routine of healthy eating, your body will let you know when it’s hungry and it will also crave healthy foods.

4. Doggy bags are the new accessory! You don’t have to clean your plate, no matter what you were told when you were a child. Save the leftovers for another meal or snack. Many people make a habit of ordering a meal or sandwich and immediately asking for half of it to be put in a doggy bag. They are more than satisfied with half a serving (especially with the jumbo sized servings in restaurants) and also have another meal to take home. If you choose to stay at the table and talk after a meal, remove your plate so you’re not tempted to keep nibbling…and never pick off someone else’s plate (this includes your kids)!

5. Slow and steady. We all want to reduce our weight quickly, but that doesn’t necessarily allow us to establish habits that will sustain our new weight over time. When we make overall lifestyle changes, the weight that disappears is not going to return. Focus on healthy living and feeling good versus losing weight. This will effectively lead you to your ideal weight—one that will be easy for you to maintain permanently. After all, there‘s no point in losing weight only to gain it back! When your focus is on a healthy lifestyle and not a number on a scale, your ideal weight will come!

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