Tag Archives: eat healthier

12 Simple Ways to Eat Less and Feel Better

usda my plate-984891711_v2.grid-4x2Do you eat when you’re bored? Stressed? Or wait until you feel starved and then overeat? Is it hard to judge portions, or do you end up with super-sized meals at restaurants?

Many factors can contribute to how much you eat. The good news is that you can control most of these factors and eventually turn them into healthy eating habits.

Here are 12 simple ways you can eat less on a daily basis and feel better about what you eat:

Serve yourself healthy foods first.
Load your plate up with the healthiest food choices first. Whether you’re eating at home, a restaurant or a buffet line, dish up the veggies, whole grains, and fruits before the fattier meats or side dishes. Then, you can go back and sample a few less healthy options or have a small dessert.

Use smaller plates and bowls.
The size of your dishes gives your brain cues on how much you’re “supposed” to eat. The bigger the dish means that you can have more food. In a study, people at a Chinese buffet who got a large plate served themselves 52% more food, and ate 45% more of it, than those who had smaller plates.

Use taller glasses.
Just like less food looks like more food on a smaller plate, height makes things look larger than width, even if the volume of both glasses is the same. You can cut down on liquid calories by choosing taller glasses rather than shorter, fatter ones.

Eat protein for breakfast.
Most studies recommend eating breakfast every day to help kick start your metabolism. But, you only get the true benefits of breakfast if it’s high in protein. More protein can suppress your appetite and reduce subsequent eating throughout the day. Skip the pancakes and waffles, and grab an omelet instead.

Eat three meals a day.
While we’ve all heard that we should eat more, smaller meals throughout the day, research is showing that three bigger meals a day may still be the best way to control your appetite. However, skipping meals will make controlling your appetite more difficult. If you eat healthy at regular meals, you shouldn’t need any additional food.

Hide unhealthy snacks.
Studies have shown that people eat a lot more food when the food is visible, rather than putting it away where it can’t be seen. The harder food is to get to may also deter some of your snacking habits. Even better yet, keep tempting junk foods out of the house. And, on the flip side, keep healthy foods prominently displayed and easy to reach.

Order the “small” choice.
A larger container or plate can tempt you to eat more food. You may be full or even think it doesn’t taste that good, and still feel obligated to eat it. When it comes to movie popcorn, french fries, or fountain drinks, choose the smallest size option and you’ll eat less.

Take a doggy bag.
Restaurant portions are most likely going to set you up to overeat. You want a good deal for your money, but those large portions can contain more than 1,200 calories without including dessert. One trick is to divide the food on your plate in half before you start eating. Then stop eating when you’ve finished half and ask for a to-go container. You’ll have a healthier meal and leftovers for tomorrow.

Pack your lunch for work.
Even better than eating out for lunch during the week, pack your own lunch. You will be able to control the portions and select a balance of healthy foods. It’s also more cost effective and can help ensure that you eat those leftovers.

Know your weaknesses.
We all have food weaknesses. The food you can’t resist. The food you can’t stop eating. Or the food you eat even if you’re not hungry. Think about your food weaknesses. Once you recognize what they are, you can learn to avoid eating them. Don’t buy them at the grocery store. Bypass the co-worker who always brings yummy homemade desserts. You can avoid the food until you gain the strength to give up the craving.

Don’t eat from a package.
When you can’t see how much you’re eating, you’re more likely eat double or triple the proper portion. Who can eat just one potato chip out of the bag? Use a plate, bowl or even a napkin so that you can see how much you’re going to eat. And put the package away so you won’t be tempted to dump out more.

Eat slowly and savor your food.
Eating should be enjoyable. There is a benefit to slowing down and appreciating your food. Take your time between bites and chew thoroughly. When you eat more slowly, you can recognize when you’re beginning to feel full. You can stop eating before you clean your plate and feel too full. Drink water while you’re eating. These simple steps can help you cut back on unnecessary calories.

By following these simple tips, you can learn to eat less, still feel full and feel better about your eating habits.

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What’s Really in Your Food?

nutrition--trans-fat-panel-451029-mAs I strive to eat healthier, I am paying more attention to food labels. So much of the food my family eats comes from a box, bag or package. These foods are filled with dyes, chemicals, added sugar and salt.

Yet, even if you read the labels you may not realize some of the strange and bizarre things that are really in your food. Here are some of the gross and just plain weird ingredients that might be hidden in the food you buy:

Cochineal extract
Much of the red dye (Natural Red #4) used in red and pink colored foods – also known as carmine – is made by boiling cochineal beetles in ammonia or sodium carbonate and then crushing them up. However, the synthetic versions of this dye (known as Red #2 and Red #40) are made from petroleum products. If you don’t like the idea of eating bugs, it may be best to avoid foods that contain red dye.

L-Cysteine
You may buy bread that lists L-Cysteine as an ingredient. This chemical is used to prolong the shelf life of products, such as commercial bread. Most of the L-Cysteine used in food comes from human hair that is gathered from barbershops and hair salons in China. It can also be derived from duck feathers and cow horns. If you find those options a little disgusting, you can buy bread from the local baker or make your own bread.

Rodent hair
Industrial facilities that produce food are often housed in large warehouse spaces. These areas may be home to a few rodents. The US FDA allows a certain amount of rodent hairs in various foods based on “unavoidable defects.” If you buy chocolate, cinnamon and peanut butter, you may expect to ingest a few rodent hairs.

Animal tissue
The ingredient gelatin is used in many gummy products, such as fruit chews and marshmallows. Gelatin is a derivative of pork, which doesn’t sound too bad. However, it’s made by boiling animal connective tissue. You may want to pass on foods that contain gelatin.

Beaver anal glands
Castoreum is a “natural” flavor enhancer used in some varieties of ice cream. Castoreum comes from the castor sacs of male and female beavers. The FDA has approved this food additive and deems the extract to be safe.

Fish bladders
Isinglass helps give beer its lovely clear golden color. Isinglass is a gelatin-like substance that is produced from the swim bladder of a fish. It also has adhesive properties and can be found in glue. Traces of arsenic are also found in beer and wine due to the process of filtering the alcohol.

Sawdust
Wood pulp is used as a cheap filler in shredded cheese, salad dressing and ice cream to thicken it without adding calories or fat. It also appears in high fiber, “healthy” snacks and breakfast cereals. Sawdust keeps shredded cheese from sticking together which is why you may have noticed that organic shredded cheese is more clumpy.

Propylene glycol
A common preservative found in our foods in propylene glycol. It may be added to biscuits, cakes, sweets and other baked goods. Propylene glycol is also used to make antifreeze. Antifreeze is found in cosmetics, skin care products, pharmaceuticals and electronic cigarettes.

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)
If you consume sports drinks to stay hydrated, you may be drinking brominated vegetable oil which is added to keep the ingredients from separating. BVO contains bromine and can also be found in flame retardants. While banned Europe and Japan, it is still used in the US.

Now that you’re afraid to eat anything you buy from the supermarket, what can you do to make healthier food choices?

Look for local food – If you can, shop at your local farmer’s market or participate in a food co-op.

Check for organic labels – Look for USDA Organic labels on foods. This is a legitimate claim that a product has been certified organic.

Read the labels – Check the ingredients on the label and if you can’t pronounce them, be wary of buying it.

Buy fresh ingredients – Shop for more unprocessed food ingredients and make your own meals rather than buying the prepackaged boxes and bags.

Plant a garden – Grow some of your own food and eat fresh from your own garden.

Food shopping can be confusing and foods that claim to be healthy may actually contain some strange ingredients. You can make healthier food choices. Take the time to read the labels and buy unprocessed food ingredients when you can.