See what happens? I go away for a week or two and then I write three blogs in one day! Phew. Anyhow:
I made a yummy breakfast today. I had a whole wheat english muffin topped with three egg whites and 1 tsp parmesan cheese. I did the sandwich open faced so it looked like I had a lot more to eat. I also drank 1.5 glasses of water with the meal which really stretches it. In fact, I feel stuffed right now.
I know some of you are trying to start eating better and I think that is AWESOME! I have been doing this for a few months now and I thought I would give you some tips to help keep you full and satisfied. Many of these tips have been passed along to me via my best friend, Carolyn, who is a registered dietician and a well of useful knowledge (if you ever have diet questions, just ask me and I will forward them on if I don’t know the answer), and via several food programs I have watched over the years.
1. Drink lots of water. Not only is water great for your body, but it really does help you feel full. I try to drink at least one glass of water with each meal. When I go out to a restaurant, I try to drink at least one glass before the meal even reaches my table. This way I will hopefully eat less and be less likely to overdo it with appetizers or dessert. Also, a good way to cut calories is by not drinking them. What I mean is many drinks out there have tons of sugar and unnecessary calories in them that we don’t even realize. One 20 oz Coke has 239 calories!!! That is insane! By switching to diet drinks, or by eliminating soda and other high calorie beverages all together, you will save yourself so many calories a day. I have recently begun drinking Crystal Light powders in my water if I need a change of pace and it seems to do the trick. I feel like I’m having an illegal treat when I do this. :o) I tend not to drink alcohol either for the meer fact that it’s empty calories and if I drink alcohol I would have to give up something else throughout the day. I do, however, drink coffee most days in which I use cream and sugar substitute, but I am unwilling to give that up.
2. Exercise is a must! I tell myself I am going to exercise every day. I used to plan to work out 3-4 times a week as many fitness websites tell you to do. I would plan to go every other day and rest on a weekend day or something like that. Then something would happen on one of my exercise days, forcing me to skip. Then I would skip the next day as originially planned. This would snowball and I would end up skipping 4 or 5 or more days. After a few days it becomes harder for me to convince myself to work out. If I plan to work out every day, and then I need to skip one day, I don’t beat myself up for it. I just go the following day as planned.
3. Quit making excuses. I do not like to workout. I am not one of those people. I don’t have that gene. I do, however, like the results I get when I workout. I also love that sense of accomplishment I get after a really good workout. So, even if I’ve had a horrible day, I’m in a bad mood, or all I want to do is sleep, I really try to make it to the gym. If I am really having a bad day, I tell myself, “Just go for 20 minutes and walk on the treadmill. Once you’re done, you can go home.” And I’ll tell you a secret…more often than not, I’ll get to the gym and get on that treadmill and get really into it! Those are the great days…the ones where you don’t want to go, but go anyways and end up doing 45 minutes on the treadmill or run an extra minute or two. I’m telling you the term “runner’s high” is not made up. For me it’s more like “walked really really fast high” but you know…
4. Make the switch to whole grain and READ THE LABEL. I used to eat white bread and white pasta and white everything. Now, I can’t tell you the last time I had white bread. It took a bit of searching, but I found a really wonderful whole wheat bread I love. It’s Klosterman’s Homestyle Whole Wheat bread. I’m not sure if it’s available everywhere, but it is yummy! I don’t miss white bread at all. Also, the reason I said read the label is because the marketing on breads, pastas, etc can be misleading. Just because it says “wheat” doesn’t mean it is the right kind of wheat. It is important for “whole grain wheat flour” to be the first or second ingredient and you want to stay away from “unbleached enriched wheat flour”. This is the bad kind of flour!
5. Eat your fruits and vegetables. This is a no brainer. I mean, come on. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients and all sorts of healthy things for your body. I have heard people say negative things about corn and potatoes and all that, but in my opinion if you are choosing to have corn or potatoes over corn bread and potato chips or french fries, that is a good choice. Now in the same aspect, be smart about your veggies. It’s best not to mix too many starchy vegetables (like corn and potatoes) on the same plate, but better to incorporate a healthier veggie (broccoli, peppers, cauliflower) or a fruit in the mix.
6. Be conscience of portion sizes. For me, this is a biggie. I was very bad at figuring portion sizes. To help me, I got one of the most helpful tools to me in the kitchen: a food scale. This was extra helpful in putting my food into Calorie King, my online food journal. Just because you measure out 1 cup of cereal doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting 1 serving because each time you measure something you will most likely get a different weight. If you use a food scale, you will get the exact right amount of food each time. Of course, I am one of those weird people that actually likes to weigh my food. If you aren’t like that, then research portion sizes online. They give great examples for how to determine portion sizes using ordinary household objects (ex: 3 oz meat is roughly the size of your palm).
7. Try new things. Mama always told me to try everything at least once. I took that one step better…I try things I previously didn’t like probably once a year or two. I still am not a huge fan of broccoli but I will eat it if I am served it at a restaurant or a friend’s house. I do, however, love mushroms now because one day I decided to try them again. Also, try new things! Couscous and polenta are two items I have tried in the past couple years that I like now. Any time I see something on Food Network that looks good but I’ve never tried it, I pick it up from the grocery store and give it a whirl. Who knows? You may love some things that are super healthy for you that you would have never tried in the past. As always, when I find something new I like I will post a blog about it.
8. Finally, and most important, listen to your body. I get 1350 calories per day to do with whatever I wish. I try to break them down as follows: 100 calories for coffee in the morning (I use creamer and sweet n low so this is unfortunately not a free food), 200-300 calories per meal, two 200 calorie snacks (one in the morning and one in the evening), and a 100-150 calorie treat at night. This is right around 1350. Now, typically I end up wanting more to eat for dinner, and if I work out that day I can do that. Most days I work out I get an extra 200-400 calories to play with.
The reason I listed this under the “listen to your body” topic is because I really pay attention to what my body is telling me. If I wake up, have my coffee and my breakfast and am hungry in an hour, I eat a little something. Maybe I eat 1/2 of my snack for that morning then and have the other 1/2 in another hour or two. If I am not hungry until lunch, I save that snack for the afternoon or I don’t eat the snack at all and have a little extra at dinner. I also make sure to drink my water with every meal, because more often than not when your body says it’s hungry, it’s really telling you it’s thirsty.
I also don’t eat until I’m full at meals. Your brain needs time to realize your stomach is full and if we keep eating until that signal hits, we typically over eat. By stopping after you’ve eating a normal portion size and waiting, many times your body will get that signal and you will not feel the need to eat any more.
Another thing is I try to never been too full or too hungry. If I’m too full, as I stated above, I have probably overeaten. If I’m too hungry, I will eat whatever I can without stopping to think about making healthy choices. I try to keep healthy snacks around (string cheese, almonds, yogurt, applesauce, apples, carrots with low fat garden vegetable cream cheese, 100 calorie popcorn and snacks, etc) and reach for those if I need a little boost. The best way to satisfy your needs and make it to your next meal is to have some carbs (for an instant boost) and some protein (for sustained energy) together. That is why I typically eat carrots (carbs) and cream cheese (protein) or string cheese (protein) and Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thin crackers (protein and carbs).
I know this is a lot of information and you may be overwhelmed at the amount of it, but I promise if you make little changes and over time try to incorporate as much of this as possible, your ability to have a healthy, full life will be achieveable. I have been trying to incorporate these tips in my life for nearly 8 years (since I started living with Carolyn) and have just now gotten a handle on it.
As everyone says, everything in moderation. :o) Good luck!