August 15, 2011

Small (easy) Steps to Cutting Calories

You could just eat smaller servings of
fast food, but would it be healthy?
Learning to eat goes beyond counting
food points, but chosing foods that
will benefit you overtime.
Somewhere in the back of our minds, after purchasing the weight loss powders, latest diet books, and fat melting foods de jeur, we know that losing fat is about cutting calories. The concept of fat loss is quite simple; if you consume 2,000/day you must burn over 2,000/day to lose fat. Conversely, if you consume 2,000/day and burn only 1,500/day you will store the extra (remember...3,500 calories equal one pound of fat). Overtime, this starts to add up (I believe this has been referred to as "creeping obesity"). Simply stated, calories in = calories out.

In my professional (and very personal opinion) one of the major barriers to successful weight loss for life is the myth that you must cut everything out and exercise like a dog to get there. Unfortunately, this results in very tired and very undernourished people throwing up their hands after only a month and going back to old behaviours.  Weight loss doesn't have to be so cruel, hard, impossible, frustration, depreciating, or uncomfortable. I promise.

On thing you can do, right now, is cut a few calories per day....just a few will make a huge difference overtime.  As I have mentioned before, I subscribe to a monthly newsletter, "Nutrition Action". It is a brilliant periodical written by those in the research (and without the bias that comes from advertising and such). It provides the health promotion enthusiast with great tips on what to be aware of (the nasty dishes in the restaurant that are loaded with crap) and what to move towards.  I have borrowed from this month's newsletter to share some of their tips....the first (I think) may make the biggest impact.

It's gross, but it's true.
There is a belief that juice is a healthy option, but the reality is it carries just as many calories and the good stuff from the fruit is usually tossed with the de-hydrated body.  Getting in the habit of drinking water with meals can significantly cut your calories.  If you drink one pop a day and cut that could lose up to 10 pounds within the year!

If veggie prep is a barrier to adding them to meals, purchase a bag of pre cut vegetables or even frozen veggies (at least that way you won't be tossing out dead and lifeless vegetables every week).  Frozen vegetables are just as healthy as the stuff you get at the grocery store. Sometimes, they are more fresh than the other as they are frozen at the time of picking.

A brilliant invention and a great
suggestion of how to use them.
Now you can buy thin slices of burger buns and even hot dog buns to cut down on the calories and processed stuff. If this doesn't appeal to you, think about wrapping it up! There are many healthy options for wraps these days and make dinner interesting. OR....use a large romaine lettuce leaf as your wrap (believe it or not, it adds something really cool and crunchy to your meal).

Many times I hear people say they can't get rid of the junk food because their spouse or kids can't live without it. The only thing I have to say to that much do you want change? If the family wants junk, let them go out and buy junk. Make it a special occasion but just don't have it in the house 24/7. It doesn't just make a difference to your health, but the health of the people you love.

Serve your dinner on the smaller salad plates vs. the large dinner plates. In addition, try serving desserts in a ramekin (those teeny tiny souffle bowls) instead of a large bowl.  Think taste versus volume.

Here's a pic of edemame. You take the
pod, place it between your teeth and
drag it through to squeeze the beans
Instead of pulling out a bag of pretzels, try a bag of sugar snap peas...seriously, they are great (and very addicting).  I know I may now sound like a nutritionist saying "just eat a carrot instead of a candy-bar", but these sugar snap peas are the bomb! Just try them and you will see.  Don't like 'em, why not a bowl of edemame with sea salt.  You can get a bag (they are soy bean in the pod) frozen and either boil or thaw in the micro. Sprinkle some sea salt on them and you have a little bit of heaven in a bowl....that is completely healthy for you and free of empty calories.

Many pizza places offer a choice now when it comes to the crust. By choosing a thin crust, you are cutting out the calories that come from the thicker version (especially if it's stuffed with something cheesy).

Love your potato? Try covering it in sour cream instead of butter and cut your calories while still enjoying your spud. OR...try a little plain Greek yogurt (it's to die for).

The first thing many "dieters" do is cut out (or desperately fear) the restaurants. If you master the art of eating out you will never worry again. The first thing I do when opening the menu is go directly to the salad section without even perusing the other sections of foody goodness.  Just don't look.  Choose your salad watching for the deep fried meat they may place on it or the thick creamy sauces (like the Caesars) and then add your chicken, salmon, or prawn with the dressing (see through has less calories) on the side. 

Finally, although there are many more tips I could include, I want to avoid the overload factor.  With life long behaviour change in mind, I strongly suggest you choose only one out of the nine and focus on that for one month. If that works, add another...and another...until within the year you have achieved it all comfortably.

Although I haven't lost 100 lbs myself (those bloggers tend to get a huge following of people wanting to know their secrets) I have come from a junk food background.  Until I was 40 (and even 41-42) I was a junk food addict. I could eat a pepperoni pizza in one sitting and drink a bottle of wine all by myself. I thought white pasta was health food and would drown it in white sauce. Over the last two years I have committed myself to learning a new way to eat and it hasn't been easy. I have fallen off the wagon so many times I don't even blog about it anymore. What I do do is get back on the wagon and try again. I have studied the basic science and elaborate psychology of eating and feel more confident I am on my way to the diet I dream of.

Could you imagine if the fruit and veggie industry marketed their product as does the weight loss industry? If you eat this apple, you could look like this woman in just 3 short weeks!  I doubt the apple industry would be able to keep up with the demand.
Not only does eating well help you age better (and, I'll be honest...for me it's all about hanging on to whatever youthful looks I still have) but it also will help me get through menopause without too much drama (I hope, I hope, I hope).  It helps with managing stress and does give me some energy during the day. Of course, I won't lie to you...zipping up my jeans without wriggling around on the floor like a fish out of water is a great motivator too.

That's all I got.

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