Filed under: Beans, Dairy, Fruits, Grains, Healthy Lifestyle, Meat, nuts, Sweets, Vegetables, Water, weight loss | Tags: calories, weight loss
Counting calories is a pretty reliable way to help you lose weight, no question. But most of us hate doing it. It’s unpleasant and tedious. And because it’s no fun doing math problems every time you put food in your mouth, most of us stop doing it eventually. And then the weight comes back.
So why does the weight inevitably come back once you stop counting, despite your best intentions? The short answer: because you never learned how to eat.
Rather than focusing on meaningful changes to your diet, and moving toward healthier foods and habits, it’s likely that all you paid attention to were the numbers. And hey, if you ate a tiny dinner, there was caloric room in your day for a sleeve of Oreos! That kind of thinking doesn’t bode well for your long-term health or weight goals.
Instead, I’d recommend getting back to basics and focusing on these key principles for eating well and losing weight:
-Avoid or reduce foods that act as appetite stimulants. That would be foods with added sugar and anything made with white flour.
-Eat fiber-rich foods. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans are deeply nutritious foods that help fill you for very few calories.
-Minimize fried stuff. Deep-fried foods such as French fries, donuts, and fried chicken and fish are among the worst foods you can eat. They just contain a ton of calories from all that oil.
-Choose snacks that are not marketed as “snacks.” Rather than chips, crackers, pretzels, and bars choose fruit, nuts, vegetables with hummus, or any other whole food. Why not even a cup of soup, or a chicken leg?
-Cook. Restaurant food is high-calorie food, and we’re often served overly large portions of it as well. You will lose weight if you start cooking more at home, no matter what you cook (unless you’re frying chicken regularly).
-Watch what you drink. Water should be your default beverage. Unsweetened tea and seltzer work too. Banish sodas, sweetened teas, sports drinks, and other garbage liquids from your diet.
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, Sweets | Tags: holiday eating, weight loss
My sister-in-law has a bear problem. She lives in suburban Connecticut—not a place you’d associate with bear problems—where they see the same black bear wandering out of the woods behind their home and into their backyard every so often, sniffing around for food. A glassed-in sun porch caps the back of her house, and as it’s not insulated, come holiday season she’ll use the room as a second refrigerator of sorts, storing leftovers and Christmas cookies out there. Well that bear got a whiff, and late one night over Thanksgiving weekend when everyone was asleep it knocked out a small glass window in that porch, hoping to squeeze itself through that laughably small space. Luckily the bear gave up and moved on. As my brother-in-law said of the incident the next day, “I got home from a gig at midnight and went in for the last slice of cheese cake. It would have been hand-to-hand combat if he was in there eating it.” So it’s good the two never met.
Anyway, that bear should have been hibernating! Alas, it hasn’t been cold enough yet, so instead it is out making mischief, looking to eat food it shouldn’t be eating.
We humans can benefit from a “hibernation” mindset at this time of year too. After a long year, and a busy buildup to the holidays, sometimes all we really need is rest, relaxation, and the opportunity to do nothing. If we don’t allow ourselves this downtime, we may find ourselves, like the bear, looking for food—as a way to “reward” ourselves, as pleasure, something to help us feel relaxed.
So if you start reaching for sugar cookies to help you unwind, think about other ways you can do that without turning to food. How about brewing a pot of chai tea with a splash of warm milk and a dusting of cinnamon? How does curling up under a soft blanket with a good book sound? Or watching your favorite “Harry Potter” movie for the umpteenth time with family or friends?
Give me any of these options—especially in front of a fireplace–and my holiday will be happy. May you too find joy this holiday season in the little things.
Filed under: Dairy, Healthy Lifestyle, Meat, Restaurants, Sweets, Vegetables, weight loss | Tags: small changes to lose weight, snacks, weight loss
Inevitably, this seems to happen to all of us at one time of life or another. Maybe you haven’t weighed yourself in a while. And then you do. And the number is not what you expect. Wait, really? When and how did that happen?
I myself have remained in the same five-pound weight range for many years. But I am now in my mid-40s, and it’s clear that as I get older I cannot continue to eat the same way I did when I was 25. Looking down at the scale for the first time in months let me know that some changes were in order.
I didn’t feel any big changes were required. I just wanted to be sure to stop a potential upward creep, and maybe get down a few pounds back into my usual range (or at the top end of it, anyway). So here’s what worked:
-No seconds. I realized that I never really needed a second plate of food at dinner. I would often just take another helping because the food tasted good. I stopped this habit.
-A big lunch, then no snacks. I’m very hungry for lunch, and like having a big hearty meal mid-day. If the meal is filling enough, then I don’t need snacks and can comfortably make it until dinner. This is a good thing for me, because once I start snacking I often find it hard to stop.
-One or two fewer drinks. Moderate alcohol consumption is good for heart health. Unfortunately for women, drinking alcohol raises our risk of breast cancer. Once I read that fact, I decided I wanted to cut down my own alcohol consumption—which would have the added benefit of reducing my caloric intake for the week. So now instead of having two to three drinks when I’m out socializing, I’ll have one or two.
-Dark chocolate is dessert. Sugar is addictive, and the more of it you eat, the more of it you want. I feel much better keeping my sugar and calorie consumption lower by sticking with a few squares of dark chocolate as my only dessert. (Except for perhaps a weekly indulgence in something a bit more decadent.)
-More greens, less charcuterie. When out in restaurants, I now tend to order an appetizer that is vegetable based, like a salad of some kind. In the past I would more often pick charcuterie plates, or pate, or something cheesy.
-More fish, less pasta. And I now order pasta in restaurants less frequently, opting instead for fish when I can.
What small changes can you make to reverse the upward creep?
Filed under: Chronic Disease, Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: overwork, relaxation, stress, weight gain, weight loss, work/life balance
Are you working longer and harder than ever? Do you struggle to get enough sleep? To find time to cook? To relax? To look away from your phone for more than 20 minutes at a time, because important work emails may come in, even on a Sunday?
If you’re answering, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes,” you may have also noticed that you’ve put on a few pounds over the past few years. Or that your anxiety levels have kicked up. Or that you’re always tired, no matter what. Or any other number of changes to your health.
Overwork and the deterioration of our health are closely related. Numerous studies have borne this out. And you likely know it on an intuitive level. But what can be done?
If your job is stressing you to the breaking point, you have two choices–find work you love or a way to love the work you have. If you dread going to work every day, and it’s been that way for a long time, think about whether this is really the job or career for you. Make a list of pros and cons about your job, and if the cons outweigh the pros, it may be time to either seek a similar job elsewhere, or think about what you really want to be doing with your life. Our time on this earth is short–do you really want to spend most of your time on it doing something that makes you unhappy?
If you’re not currently happy at your job but feel it truly isn’t possible to leave at the moment, then think about what steps you can take to improve your current situation. If your workload is killing you, speak with your supervisor and see what can be done to potentially lighten the load or get you support, and identify any time-wasters in your day and then eliminate them. Communication, planning, and smart time management can go a long way in helping you get through your day’s tasks. And it can really help to manage others’ expectations—if you’re routinely at work at 9 p.m., people will just come to expect that that’s what you do, and wouldn’t think twice about shooting you a work email at that hour. You may want to ask your boss—if he or she emails you over the weekend, are they hoping that you’ll deal with their request then and there? Some bosses don’t expect that—they just send the email over the weekend because they’re thinking about that particular issue and want to send the email while it’s fresh in their mind, expecting that you’ll get to it when back in the office on Monday.
With today’s seemingly endless work days, it’s more important than ever that we allow time for self-care, fun, and pleasure in our lives. If you have to schedule time for yourself into your calendar, then do it! Allow yourself time to browse your local greenmarket. Treat yourself to a massage. Sit at an outdoor café and linger over a cup of tea and the Sunday paper. Try out a new recipe you saw online. You get the idea. Whatever you choose, just know that these small steps to help you de-stress and care for yourself will make a big difference over time when it comes to your health—both mental and physical.
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, Sweets, weight loss | Tags: grazing, snacking, weight gain, weight loss
Why is it so hard to resist that platter of snacks at your work meeting? You just ate breakfast. But those little brownie bites and those potato chips are just so tempting…
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t say no. If you place food in front of most people, they tend to eat it. It’s just the way we’re wired.
The food-served-at-every-meeting scenario is one of the many ways we’re cued every day to eat. Or more accurately, to overeat. Everywhere we turn there’s food available or food being pushed in our faces. At the checkout line in the office supply store. At halftime at our kids’ soccer game. At the subway station (churros, anyone?) In the U.S., the message is loud and clear—it’s always time to eat.
To avoid getting sucked into the habit of grazing all day long when you’re out and about, before you pull into the drive-thru or wander into the mall food court because you smelled cinnamon rolls, stop and think–am I actually hungry right now? Or am I about to buy this food simply because it’s there? Would I have felt the need the get a snack right now if I hadn’t seen this concession stand?
This may sound simple, and you may wonder if it would actually make any difference, but awareness is the first step in making changes in your life, and can be very effective. Try it and see what happens.
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: setting goals, setting intentions, weight loss
Two friends are chatting about their diets. The first one says, “I want to be healthy and feel great.” The second one says, “I intend to be healthy and feel great.”
Which one do you think is going to get healthy and feel great? Yep–the one who intends to do it.
Wanting is simply wishing you can have or do a particular thing. Intending means you’re committed to achieving something by making a plan for success–and sticking to it.
The Fuel for Desired Results
The key to fulfilling your intentions is action:
- Get clear on what you want, and why. Are you hoping to lose weight so that you have more energy to run around with your kids? To reduce your risk of heart disease? To feel more confident? List all of your reasons and keep that list someplace where you will see it regularly.
- Do something to make your desire happen. Let’s say you want to eat four servings of vegetables a day. Your first action may be to go to a farmers’ market and purchase a few veggies you can cook for dinner.
- Celebrate your achievement! Don’t forget to congratulate yourself for meeting your goals.
It can even be helpful to set an intention each day. Rather than diving into your morning and hoping you’ll achieve your day’s big goal, why not take a moment and set yourself up for success?
Try this “Setting an Intention to Succeed” exercise used by professional athletes, speakers, politicians, and performers:
- Upon waking, lie in bed and think about what you have planned for your day (or, find a quiet spot to sit and contemplate).
- Think about your desired outcome. Take a deep breath and visualize yourself succeeding.
- Replay your success several times in your mind.
- Next, add other senses, including sounds, smells, and touch. For instance, as you replay your success, you now also hear the director offering you the gig, or you feel the physical sensation of your finger hitting the “send” button on your latest assignment.
- Lastly, replay the scene again, adding emotions. Feel your elation at getting the part, or your pride at finally finishing your work.
Get Healthier in 2016
Do you intend to lose weight, eat healthy, and feel fantastic this year? Then make a plan to succeed and get the support you need. As a holistic nutrition counselor, I specialize in helping people make their own healthy changes. I will help you shift your behavior to develop lifelong healthy habits and a deep understanding of your bio-individual needs. If you’re ready to get started, you can contact me to schedule an initial complimentary consultation. Or, pass this offer on to someone you care about!
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: healthy holiday eating, holiday weight gain, weight loss
Welcome to December–a month we may love, or a month we may fear. There’s much to love: time with family and friends, parties, gift-giving, and indulging in our favorite holiday foods. But many of us have such a fear of gaining weight this time of year that it colors the whole holiday season for us. It can get to the point where we dread receiving an invitation to a good friend’s holiday party because we know we’ll see those pigs in a blanket and butter cookies there and completely lose control.
Here are some tips to help you through the coming month, and hopefully keep your weight from fluctuating as you enjoy the holiday season …
Feast on feasting days. This is my mantra from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Eat whatever you like on the big holiday feasting days—but don’t treat the entire month of December as one big feasting day. There’s no reason you should be eating twice what you’d normally consume on a random weekday, using the justification that “hey, it’s holiday season!” Writing off all of December in this way is a guaranteed way to gain 5-10 pounds.
Eat super healthy on non-event days. So on days when you don’t have a holiday party or a big dinner at Grandma’s house, choose very healthy foods. On the days leading up to Thanksgiving this year, for instance, I made a point of cooking a few dinners in a row that were vegetarian and pretty light. Eat lots of veggies, fruits, lean meats, and pay attention to portion sizes.
At parties, be mindful about quantity. For both food and alcohol, you may want to go in to the party with an idea of limits—you’ll only have x number of drinks, and you’ll only eat one of each type of hors d’oeuvre, etc.
Eat warming, comforting foods. This is not the time of year to eat all salads, all the time. It’s cold out there, and you’ll want to nourish yourself with warm, seasonal foods that satisfy you rather than leave you feeling chilled and wishing you had something heartier to eat. Soups, stews, sweet winter squashes, yams, and for some of us, a little extra meat are just what we need.
Take care of yourself. Amidst all the rushing around and last-minute trips to the mall, remember that you don’t want to run yourself ragged. Allow yourself enough time for a good night’s sleep. Stick to your exercise routine. Relax when you can with a good book or your favorite show. Savor your time with family and friends.
Happy holidays, everyone!