Tag Archives: eating habits

11 Ways to Lose Weight Without Dieting

diet-776158-mAs I finally start to see sunshine and a hint of spring, I’ve realized that I have been hibernating all winter. My pants are feeling a little snug after the winter months, and I am worried it will soon be time for shorts and bathing suits.

You may be thinking about making a change and losing weight, but the idea of overhauling your eating habits and daily routine may seem too overwhelming. What if you could learn to eat less without feeling like you’re being deprived or attempting a huge change?

Here are 11 ways you can create healthier habits and lose weight without dieting:

Eat more slowly
My husband eats like someone might suddenly grab his plate of food and take it away from him. Nutrition experts say that eating too quickly is not only harder on your digestion, your brain needs time to process that you’re full. Set a timer for 20 minutes and teach yourself to be a slow eater. Savor each bite, and you will be less likely to overeat.

Catch the eating pause
When you eat more slowly, you are also more likely to catch the “eating pause.” Most people have a natural pause while eating when they set down their fork for a couple of minutes. Watch for this moment and don’t eat any more. This is the signal that you’re full, but not stuffed. You can learn to recognize it.

Use smaller plates
It may seem silly, but using a smaller plate for meals can trick your mind into thinking you’ve eaten a plate full of food. It just doesn’t realize it was a smaller plate – and therefore less food. And, for some reason, eating off of blue plates tends to decrease your appetite.

Try more veggies
Serve more veggies with dinner each night, instead of just one veggie serve three, and you’ll eat more without really trying. More variety can also trick you into eating more food, at least the good types of food. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a great way to lose weight. The high fiber and water content fills you up with fewer calories and more vitamins and minerals.

Dine at home
A survey found that one of the top ways to lose weight is to eat home-cooked meals at least five days a week. You can find ways to make quick meals with lean cuts of meat, whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables.

Bring your lunch
Packing a lunch gives you the chance to have more control over your food intake. You can even bring leftovers from the meals you make at home. You’ll also save money while eating more healthy.

Drink water
Many people mistake thirst for hunger and grab something to eat. Drinking cold water can help your metabolism since your body will work harder to warm it up and burns more calories. Drinking water also allows your body to filter out toxins and keep you feeling full.

Sip green tea
Green tea can also boost your metabolism. The beverage has antioxidant power, so switch it up with drinking a glass water. Drinking green tea can also help you replace sugary drinks and cut calories.

Chew mint gum
Chewing sugarless gum with a strong flavor can also help you avoid a snack attack. Gum with a powerful punch can make foods not taste as good and deter mindless snacking. Brushing your teeth is another way to discourage additional snacking – most everyone likes that freshly-brushed teeth feeling.

Sleep more
Studies have shown that sleeping an extra hour a night could help you drop 14 pounds in a year. When sleep replaces other idle activities or mindless snacking, you can cut your calorie intake. In addition, getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night can rev up your appetite, making you feel more hungry.

Burn 100 more calories a day
You can lose 10 pounds in a year without dieting by burning an extra 100 calories every day. It’s easier than you may think to burn 100 calories a day. For instance, you can walk a mile in about 20 minutes, pull weeds or garden for 20 minutes, clean house for 30 minutes, or jog for 10 minutes.

The idea of overhauling your eating habits and lifestyle to lose weight can seem daunting. These simple tips can help you lose weight without dieting and allow you to create a real and lasting change in your life!

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Why is Belly Fat Bad for You?

tape-measurer-1-433750-mMy healthy habits may have slipped a little during the holidays. I ate things I wouldn’t normally eat – in addition to eating more than I probably should. My exercise routine went out the window with the hectic holiday schedule.

It really hit home when I had trouble buttoning my jeans a few days ago. My belly and waistline had definitely expanded.

Belly fat can be a serious health issue. When we talk about belly fat, we don’t mean the jiggly (subcutaneous) fat you can pinch with your fingers. We’re actually referring to the visceral fat that lies out of reach, deep within your abdomen. It’s found around your liver, intestines and other organs. It’s also stored in a flap of tissue that lies under your stomach muscles.

Why is this abdominal fat worse than fat around the hips and thighs? Here are 5 reasons to be concerned about belly fat:

Belly fat acts like an organ
Belly fat isn’t just idly hanging out on your waistline. Researchers believe belly fat is an active “organ” in your body. It can contribute to health problems all over your body. Abdominal fat breaks down easily into fatty acids. These flow directly into the liver and your muscles.

Belly fat produces hormones
The fat cells in your abdomen are little hormone factories. They produce substances that get in the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body. The hormones made by fat cells affect your appetite, metabolism, blood sugar and blood pressure.

Belly fat increases risk of diabetes
Belly fat secretes a molecule that increases insulin resistance, which raises your risk of type 2 diabetes. Learn more about the 6 Truths About Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners.

Belly fat hurts your heart
Visceral fat also makes certain proteins that trigger low-level inflammation. These proteins can increase your risk of heart disease. The fatty acids released by belly fat are also linked to higher LDL or “bad” cholesterol and lower HDL or “good” cholesterol. Read about these Best Exercises to Lower Your Cholesterol.

Abdominal fat also triggers a change in angiotensin – a hormone that controls blood vessel constriction – increasing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Here are 13 Heart Healthy Foods you should be eating.

Belly fat ups risk of breast cancer
In general, being overweight or obese can increase your risk of breast cancer. Belly fat produces the hormone estrogen, which feeds breast cancer cells.

What can you do about belly fat?

There is evidence that your genes do determine how many fat cells you have. In addition, your genes dictate, to some extent, your body shape. You may be more inclined to be apple-shaped (carrying more weight in your mid-section) or pear-shaped (carrying weight in the hips and thighs).

Beyond that, how much belly fat you carry is linked to your lifestyle, including physical inactivity and how many calories you eat.

Learn more about how you can control and lose belly fat in our blog post: 4 Steps to Losing Belly Fat.

The good news is that belly fat responds well with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Visceral fat metabolizes more easily than the fat that’s on the surface of your body. There’s even more good news. Once you start to lose belly fat, the harmful effects of these extra fat cells can be reversed, including the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Just another reason to eat healthy and get more exercise in 2015!

 

 

8 Ways to Control Your Holiday Eating

pumpkin-pie-1372787-mOn the best of days, it can be hard to control your eating. The holiday season challenges even the most routine eating habits. You’re running errands and eating on the go. You have holiday parties, family gatherings and lunch with friends.

Adding in the additional stress and changes in your routine, how do you maintain your healthy diet during the holidays?

Here are 8 ways to control your eating and enjoy a happier and healthier holiday season:

Start with the healthy options
Whether you’re sitting around the holiday table, grabbing food off of a buffet or eating on the go, load up on the healthiest items first. Start with a salad, fresh fruit or a veggie dish. Then, choose the whole grains and lean meats. Last, sample a few bites of different desserts. You’ll fill up on the better food choices and eat less of the foods you don’t need.

Concentrate on eating
When you eat with friends, family or co-workers, you may not pay as much attention to what – and how much – you are putting into your mouth. By concentrating on what you’re eating, you will be able to tell when your stomach is letting you know you’re full. If you’re paying attention, you’ll know when to quit rather than mindlessly eating.

Eat slowly
We are always in a hurry and often eat on the go. You may be guilty of stuffing your mouth full of food and hurrying to swallow it down. Do you even really taste the foods you’re eating? Chew slowly and really savor the food in your mouth. Taking it slow will also give you time to realize that you’re full, rather than finding out later that you are over-stuffed with food.

Plan on leftovers
Most families serve way too much food at the holidays. It’s best to assume that you will have leftovers instead of feeling you have to eat it all. Making two meals out of what you might have eaten in one sitting will help you control how much you eat.

Be in charge of your stomach
Your well-meaning mother-in-law or aunt may try to push food on you. The people who cook the food usually enjoying seeing others eat the food. They want you to try every dish and give your opinion. If you’re feeling full, politely let them know you aren’t hungry now, but you’ll be sure to try it later. Or, offer to take it home as leftovers.

Snack healthy
As you’re running errands or preparing food ahead of time, make sure you choose healthy snacks. Rather than sampling the food you’re making, have a banana, grapes, carrot sticks or a handful of nuts to keep you from getting too hungry. If you sit down to eat and you’re starving, you are more likely to overeat.

Rest after eating
When you’ve finished a meal, take a few minutes to rest. Give your stomach time to digest before you go back to running errands or attending the next holiday gathering. It’s also good to take a few minutes to relax and recharge to keep your stress levels down. Running yourself ragged and becoming stressed can lead to eating unhealthy food choices.

Find new sources of comfort
If eating comfort foods is a way for you to cope with stress or handle holidays with the family, try doing something different. Call a friend, go outside for a walk in the sun, read a book or take up a hobby that keeps you occupied. The goal is to distract yourself from making unhealthy food choices during the chaos of the holidays.

You can maintain your healthy eating habits during the holiday season. Keep these tips in mind as you run your holiday errands, fix festive dishes or attend holiday parties!

9 Ways to Make Lifestyle Changes That Stick

sticky-notes-and-pen-695000-mDid you make any New Year’s resolutions for 2014? Were you able to accomplish your goals?

As 2014 is quickly coming to an end, I’ve been thinking about my progress in living a more balanced life. I still stay up too late. I am working on a regular exercise routine, but I do lapse from time to time. I could definitely do a better job of managing stress – I worry entirely too much. I have been eating healthier, although I still enjoy my favorite junk foods.

So, how can we make lifestyle changes that last? Here are 9 ways to make changes that stick:

Think big
What do you want to change? You can create an overall road map for your journey to balanced living. Make a list of the lasting changes you want to accomplish. For instance, I need to get more sleep. There is so much research that backs up the importance of getting plenty of sleep. I also want to maintain my exercise habits. I would like to cook meals at home more regularly so that my whole family can develop healthier eating habits.

One thing at a time
All those goals sound overwhelming when you consider doing it all at once. That’s why you should pick one aspect of your life to change at at time. For example, I want to work on better eating habits for my family and myself. To improve my chances of success, I need to focus on making this change first before starting on additional ones.

Start small
Now that I have my goal of healthier eating habits, I can break that down into ways to achieve that goal. If I just say that we’re going to eat better, it will be difficult to accomplish. Start by making a plan and creating some steps. First, I’m going to make a list of meals I would like to prepare over the next week. Then, I can put together a grocery list of supplies I need to buy, adding in some healthy snack foods. Now, when I’m feeling overwhelmed and tired, I will have a list of meals I can make and the ingredients on hand.

Set goals
For more complex lifestyle changes, you can set additional goals to keep you on the right track. For instance, if you want to get your finances in order, you may want to set several goals to accomplish this task. You can start by reviewing your financial situation. Then, you can create a budget that will, in turn, help you set goals to pay off credit card debt, reduce your mortgage, and save for retirement.

Get a buddy
Knowing that someone is on your side can help you make changes that last. It can be your spouse or partner who gives you encouragement or works with you to achieve a goal. You can enlist a financial planner to help you put your finances in order. A personal trainer can help you develop an exercise routine and set goals so that you stay on track.

Share your plans
It’s okay to tell your friends and family about your plans. Having support can help you feel more confident about accomplishing your goals. Sharing your challenges and successes can make the work easier and may help others feel inspired to make changes themselves!

Reward yourself
Don’t wait until you’ve achieved your final goal to reward yourself. Rewards, however small, can help motivate you to keep at it. For short-term goals, set simple rewards. For instance, if I cook healthy meals for a week, I can buy a pair a shoes. Or, if I meet my exercise goals for a month, I can treat myself to manicure.

Be prepared for lapses
You will slip up. Everyone has lapses when trying to build healthy habits. You will eat that brownie a la mode. You’ll have a cold and skip your workout routine for a week. It doesn’t mean you failed. The only way you fail is if you give up. After a lapse, forgive yourself, learn from your mistakes and move on.

Do it again!
Once you feel like you’ve developed a healthy habit that will stick, start on the next lifestyle change you want to make. Finding a healthy, balanced life is a work in progress. Keep at it!

8 Secrets to Eating Smarter

empty-plate-with-forks-and-knifes-1357304-mLike most Americans, my eating habits need help. I am addicted to fast food, decadent desserts, sweet drinks and unhealthy snacking.

Most adults and one-third of the kids in this country are overweight. You can change your eating habits, but it means changing your lifestyle and learning to eat healthier on a daily basis.

You can replace the worst food offenders with healthier choices. It’s also important to watch portion control and pay more attention to your snacking.

Here are 8 secrets to eating smarter and changing your eating habits for life:

Control serving size
Most servings in fast food chains and even restaurants are over-sized. We have become accustomed to large servings and assume that this is the right amount of food to eat at a meal. Unfortunately, many of these meals contain almost all the calories and fat you need to eat in one day – packed into one meal.

You can learn to judge the right portion size of the foods you eat. Here are some common foods, and the size you should picture in order to judge portion size:

  • Medium baked potato = a computer mouse
  • Pasta = 1/2 a baseball
  • Cooked rice = a light bulb
  • Waffle = size of a CD
  • Muffin = tennis ball
  • Bagel = hockey puck
  • Cheese = four dice
  • Meat or fish = deck of cards or palm of your hand
  • Peanut butter = golf ball
  • Portion of fat = poker chip
  • Dessert = 1/2 a baseball

Plan for dining out
It’s important to remember portion sizes when you are eating out at restaurants. As we mentioned earlier, when dining out the meals can be enough food for two or three people.

Here are some tips to curbing portion size at restaurants:

  • Order a half portion or kids’ meal
  • Box up half of a full-size entree before you even start eating
  • Split a dish with your partner or a friend
  • Eat a healthy appetizer with a soup or salad instead of a main entree

Use a smaller plate
As a kid, you may have been told to clean your plate. You may have been taught not to waste food. The problem is that dinner plates – at home and in restaurants – have gotten bigger. We also load them up with more food than we need. If you are cleaning your plate, you are probably eating too much.

The secret is to use a smaller plate. It may seem silly, but it can help. You are forced to take smaller portions, and you may make better choices knowing you have less room on your plate. Even if you go back for seconds, you are still eating less than you did with bigger plates. Put leftovers away right after the meal, so you aren’t tempted to come back and graze.

Look for whole grains
Pizza, pasta, rice and tortillas can load on calories and fill you up with white flour and refined grains. These flours and grains have been processed to remove the bran. The bran is full of fiber and vitamins. Choose whole grain wheat, rice, barley and other grains when you can.

Watch our for solid fats
Most saturated and trans fats are solid at room temperature. These fats are found in butter, margarine, shortening, coconut oil and animal fats. Creamy dishes, fatty cuts of meat, some cheeses, bacon and chicken skin all have solid fat. While some fatty foods are good for you, you may want to learn the truth about good and bad fats.

Cut back on sugar
As a whole, we eat too much sugar. It’s just so easy! We have sodas, sports drinks, cookies, cakes and every kind of yummy pre-packaged treat. Desserts have also become over-sized and packed with sugar and unhealthy fats. The average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar a day when we should only eat about 6 to 9 teaspoons. Artificial sweeteners may not be any better for us than real sugar. Read more in 6 Truths about Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners.

Eat more nutritious foods
As you cut back on portion size, you can also add in more healthy and nutritious choices to your diet. Instead of fatty meats, choose lean protein and seafood. Fish is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Choose whole grains instead of refined white flour and grains. Add in more fruit and vegetables, eggs, low-fat dairy and beans. Cut back on butter and margarine, and choose olive and canola oil. These oils are good for your waistline and your heart.

Keep an eye out for food frauds
Many healthy foods can wreck your diet if you go overboard on the serving sizes. Here are some good for you foods that should still be consumed in moderation:

  • Avocado
  • Red wine
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Trail mix
  • Dried fruit
  • Energy bars
  • Smoothies

It’s hard to change eating habits that may have been developed when we were kids. It takes practice and hard work to create healthier habits. By starting with portion control and thinking about the foods you eat each day, you can learn to eat smarter and create better habits for life!

11 Healthy Eating Habits for 2014

Eat breakfast every day healthy eating habitsI love to eat. And I like to eat junk. Give me potato chips, brownies and pie a la mode. That was okay until I hit 40 years old. Then, things started to change. My butt became more jiggily and my belly got paunchier.

I need to change my eating habits for better health. There is no magic diet or easy fix. It’s all about finding balance in your diet, and balance in your life in general.

Healthy eating comes down to creating healthy habits. Let’s face it: with all the fast food and junk food options available, it can be hard to resist giving in to bad eating habits.

You can make lifelong changes to how and what you eat. But, it won’t happen overnight. It takes time to make good habits stick.

Here are 11 healthy eating tips to help you on the path to a balanced lifestyle:

Eat breakfast every day
Most people who have achieved and maintained their weight loss goals, eat breakfast every morning. Your morning meal will jump start your metabolism and give you the energy to tackle the day. Eating breakfast can also help you absorb more vitamins and minerals. You are less likely to have a hunger attack during the day when you’ve had a healthy breakfast.

Eat more often
When you eat more often – usually every 2 to 3 hours – you keep your stress hormone cortisol at a steady level. High cortisol levels tell your body to start storing fat, typically in your belly region. Skipping meals sends your cortisol levels off the charts. Eating 6 small meals a day can help you lose weight and feel better.

Eat moderate portions
However, if you are eating more often, you need to eat moderate portions. Eating more often doesn’t give you a license to eat more. It’s about letting your body digest and use energy more efficiently throughout the day.

Drink water
I know we have blogged about this many times. Drinking water affects so many areas of your health. It keeps your body working in homeostasis and aids in almost every aspect of your body’s functions. And we don’t mean soda, iced tea or energy drinks – just plain old water.

Know your diet downfalls
We all have our diet downfalls. You may salt everything you eat. You might crave sugar when you get tired or stressed. You may add a lot of butter or dressings to your food. We all have our bad eating habits. I love sweets. I would like to eat dessert with every meal and as a snack. Make it a goal to break these bad eating habits.

Reduce (not eliminate) unhealthy choices
At the same time, you want to enjoy your meals. If you try to cut out all the bad food choices at once, you will become disheartened by your healthy eating habits very quickly. Make it a point to moderate the less healthy choices. Eat a small piece of cake, or salt your food half as much as you normally would. As you adjust to better eating and start feeling better, you will find you miss those unhealthy foods less than you think.

Listen to your body
When you start to feel hungry between meals, eat a healthy snack. When you feel full, stop eating. Because we have food available all the time, we tend to eat when we’re bored, lonely or stressed.

Sit down for dinner
Make it a point to sit down to dinner every evening. You can talk with your family or friends about the ups and downs of the day. Or, simply listen to everyone else. If you live alone, you can still sit down and enjoy your meal – rather than grazing or eating over the sink. Sitting down to a meal helps you relax, connect with others and enjoy your food.

Plan to have setbacks
You will fall off the healthy wagon, so to speak. You’ll pig out from time to time. You’ll have three donuts at work after you just had breakfast. You’ll salt that already salty food. Don’t beat yourself up or feel like you have failed. Tomorrow is a new day to get back on track to creating balanced eating habits.

Set a bedtime routine
While it may not seem to have anything to do with healthy eating habits, a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your health and wellness. In addition, going to bed and waking up around the same time every day can help set your body’s natural rhythms. You will feel more rested and less likely to become stressed or turn to food for comfort or an energy boost during the day.

Find your balance over time
Healthier eating habits take time. There is no quick fix. It’s about changing your mindset and relationship with food. Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Every healthy change you make to your diet matters. Even if you can’t completely give up sweets, salt or fatty foods, reducing how much you eat or how often you eat it, still helps you on your path to a more balanced diet. And creating a more balanced life!

7 tips for healthier eating habits

healthier eating habitsAny time I hear someone say, “I’m on a diet,” I want to cringe. To me, “dieting” is almost a dirty word.

Dieting generally has a negative connotation because it conjures up ideas of fad diets and unhealthy weight loss. Going on a diet means you are temporarily depriving yourself of some type of food. A diet is not something you sustain over time.

When you go on fad diets, you are typically leaving out necessary nutrients. Dieting can make your body think it’s starving, and it actually starts to store fat. You can also become food obsessed – worrying about counting calories, carbs, proteins or fat. When taken to the extreme, dieting may be doing harm to your body and putting you at risk for illness.

The best diet is not a “diet” at all but a way of life that lets you eat the nutritious foods your body needs to thrive. By creating healthy eating habits, you can lose weight, tone up, feel better and have more energy. It may mean changing your mindset from dieting to eating a healthier, more balanced variety of foods.

Here are some tips to help you develop healthier eating habits and stick to it:

Tip 1: Start slowly
It can be overwhelming to think about overhauling all your eating habits at once. Trying to change everything at once can be hard and often leads to cheating or simply giving up. Start by adding a salad once a day. Or, make it a point to cut down on fried foods.

Tip 2: Think smaller
A key foundation for eating healthier is portion control. Over the past few decades, serving sizes have grown to huge amounts. One way to reduce your portions is to switch out your dinner plates for smaller plates. Think about moderation as you fill your plate. It can be especially hard to eat a normal-sized portion in a restaurant. Choose a starter or an appetizer instead of an entrée. Or, split a large main dish with a friend.

Tip 3: Eat your fiber
You can eat plenty of high-fiber foods – this means fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. These are “good” carbs and are nutritious, as well as help fill you up. They are also relatively low in calories. These foods can provide important vitamins and minerals.

Tip 4: Everything in moderation
Well, mostly limit the bad things. We all know what they are – unfortunately most of them taste really good! Limit your intake of sugary foods, refined grains like white bread and salty snacks. In addition, cut down on trans fat, which comes from hydrogenated vegetable oils and many fast foods. It’s also important to cut down on animal fat. It is high in saturated fat. Cutting down on fats may even help you lower your cholesterol. Also, if you drink alcohol, it should be done in moderation.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a cookie, slice of cake or some potato chips. It just means to eat these things in moderation.

Tip 5: Add more fruits and vegetables
Most Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. You should be eating 5 servings or more a day. Try to add more color in your fruits and vegetables – include greens, oranges and yellows, as well as purples, blues and reds.

Tip 6: Take your time
Slow down and think of food as nourishment, rather than something you eat between meetings or grab on the go. Sit down and eat at the table. If you eat in front of the TV or computer, you aren’t thinking about how much food you are actually consuming. Eating with others leads to conversation and helps you take breaks as you eat. Also, if you eat more slowly, your body will tell you when you’re full.

Tip 7: Keep it all in balance
The best tip for healthy eating is to keep it all in balance. Eat a wide variety of foods and think about smaller portion sizes. Try to add more fruits and vegetables to your plate.

And remember to take small step and make changes to your eating habits over time. The next thing you know you’ll be eating healthier and feeling better!