Tag Archives: healthy eating habits

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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14 Healthier Treats to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 10.22.24 AMI love dessert. And I’m an equal opportunity dessert eater. I like it all – pies, cakes, cobblers, ice cream, cookies, brownies, chocolate – anything that’s sweet and decadent.

However, it can be difficult to maintain healthy eating habits when you love all things dessert. And, basically anything that will satisfy your sweet tooth is most likely going to sabotage your healthy diet.

We have blogged about the dangers and health risks of eating too much sugar in the past. The average American eats and drinks 22 teaspoons – or almost half a cup – of added sugar each day. The American Heart Association recommends that women eat only 6 teaspoons per day and 9 teaspoons a day for men.

Here are 14 ways you can satisfy your need for something sweet and stick to your healthy habits:

Dark chocolate
Eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate (1.4 ounces) can improve your mood and reduce stress levels. So, you can enjoy a small bit of chocolatey goodness without the guilt.

Frozen yogurt
If you’re having a craving for ice cream, substitute frozen yogurt as a good alternative. It’s the same consistency as regular ice cream and it tastes almost as sweet.

Yogurt with toppings
Top a cup of plain Greek yogurt with your favorite treats – crumbled graham crackers, granola, nuts or fruit. You can even add some shaved dark chocolate. You get a decadent dessert without all the added calories.

Jell-O brand cups
Jell-O has single serving cups in many varieties and flavors. You can get pudding cups that have the same creamy flavor as cheesecake but with much less fat and calories. You can even make your own pudding from a powdered mix, using skim milk to keep it healthy. Add your own toppings for more flavor and fun.

Fresh fruit
Any piece of fresh fruit will offer enough natural sugar to fill your sweet tooth craving. It’s also an extremely healthy choice for added nutrients and fiber. Mix up your fruit and create tasty fruit salads.

Dried fruit
Dried fruit is handy to pack on the go as a quick snack and is a great way to have a sweet treat. Make sure if you’re buying packaged dried fruit that you check for no added sugar.

Fudge popsicle
With a fudge popsicle, you can get an ice cream fix along with the great taste of chocolate. It has fewer calories than regular ice cream or even slow-churned ice cream.

Nutella popcorn
You can make another chocolatey treat with Nutella and popcorn. Pop a small bag of natural popcorn and top it with 1 tablespoon of melted Nutella. It’s crunchy along with the perfect amount of sweetness!

Chocolate Nutty Pretzels
A salty and sweet combo may also help you with those sugary cravings. Microwave one square of dark chocolate and one teaspoon of natural peanut butter until both are melted. Then dip pretzels or pretzels rods for a great snack.

Sorbet
Keeping a pint of healthy sorbet on hand is a great option for filling a dessert craving without resorting to ice cream. You can even make your own sorbet if you’re feeling adventurous!

Frozen grapes
Put a bag or container of grapes in the freezer for a few hours, and you’ll have a long-lasting, sweet treat with antioxidants and other nutrients. Grapes also contain resveratrol, which may help lower bad cholesterol levels and be good for your heart.

Trail mix
You can make your own trail mix. Simply combine a healthy mix of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or pistachios, with dried cranberries, cherries or raisins. You can also add in a few dark chocolate pieces for a great snack with good nutrition, too.

Animal crackers
A good-sized handful of animal crackers has just 120 calories and about 7 grams of sugar. While kids like to snack on them, adults can enjoy them, too!

Chocolate milk
Need a sweet treat during your day? Chocolate milk is good for you and boosts calcium and vitamin D, which research shows is important for preserving cartilage and joint health. Chocolate low-fat milk has also been shown to replenish stores of energy and nutrition after a vigorous workout or activity.

Now I want to eat something sweet, and you probably do, too! A healthy diet means eating a variety of foods and eating them all in moderation. Just be sure to watch portion sizes and treat yourself to these healthy dessert options.

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!

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!

Swap Junk Food With Healthy Food

cupcakes-1155519-mWhy are the foods that taste so good so bad for us? I love chips, soda, fast food and anything that’s called dessert.

Unfortunately, most adults and one in three children in this country are overweight or obese. Once we’ve developed the habit of eating unhealthy and extremely tasty foods, it’s really hard to make the switch to an all healthy diet.

Changing the way you eat can be easier if you start by taking small steps in the right direction. You can identify your worst “bad food” habits and replace them with healthier choices.

High calorie favorites
Most of our calories come from foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats. At the top of the list are sweets like cookies and cakes, as well as yeast breads. You may also get extra calories from fried or baked chicken dishes, sodas and sports drinks. Pizza, pasta, tortilla dishes, beef dishes and alcohol also pile on the calories.

Eat less of these foods:

  • Salt
  • Fast food
  • Saturated fats
  • Solid and trans fats
  • Added sugar
  • Refined grains

Eat more of these foods:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean protein
  • Seafood
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Whole grains
  • Healthy oils

You can make small changes to your eating habits and make a big difference in your calorie intake. Here are some ways you can swap out less healthy choices for healthier options:

Breakfast

  • Swap sugary cereals for whole grain cereals with no sugar added and add fresh or dried fruit.
  • Swap whole milk for 1% fat or even skim milk.
  • Swap full fat Greek yogurt for fat-free Greek style yogurt
  • Swap a glass of juice for real fruit

Lunch

  • Swap fatty meats for lean protein and seafood. Shoot for at least 8 ounces of fish a week.
  • Swap white bread, pasta or rice for whole grain varieties.
  • Swap butter and cheese for low-fat or fat-free options. Use olive or canola oils that are good for your heart and your waistline.

Dinner

  • Swap fatty cuts of meat for leaner cuts or choose skinless chicken or fish.
  • Swap mashed potatoes or fries for sweet potato options or choose more colorful veggies.
  • Swap creamy or cheesy sauces for tomato or vegetable-based sauces.
  • Swap pan-frying with grilling when cooking meat.

Drinks

  • Swap whole milks for skim milk in your coffee or when you drink a glass of milk.
  • Swap sweet tea for unsweetened tea.
  • Swap sugary drinks for a glass of water.

Watch your serving size
Our portion sizes have gotten out of control in recent years. When you go to a restaurant, you get enough food to feed three people. Buffets also create a challenge because it’s hard to realize how much you’ve eaten. Start downsizing to healthier portions. You can learn to eyeball your food to make sure you are eating the right amount.

Shrink your plate
You were probably told to clean your plate when you were growing up. Just like portions, our dinner plates at home and in restaurants have gotten bigger. If you clean your plate, you’re probably eating too much. Start eating on smaller plates, and you will find that you eat less.

It’s hard to give up all of your favorite foods at once and switch to healthier options. Focus on one area at a time. For instance, start by making healthy changes in your breakfast routine. Then, switch out fatty meat options for more lean protein at lunch and dinner. Next, cut back on refined grains and choose whole grain.

By making smaller adjustments over time, you will soon find that you don’t even miss your old favorites!

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 Tips to Eating Healthy When Dining Out

rusted-neon-green-and-white-cafe-sign-1337952-mSummertime can mean more time spent dining out. With three kids in summer sports, we often end up eating fast food between games or going out to a restaurant after the evening’s activities are finished.

We also spend more time traveling, going on vacation or visiting family and friends. It can be tempting to indulge in foods that are not necessarily part of your normal eating habits. It is also easy to eat as many as 2,000 calories in just one meal.

While you may dine out more in the summer, it doesn’t mean you have to sabotage your healthy eating habits. The key is to pay attention to your food choices and make sure that you are choosing healthy options.

Here are 11 tips to selecting healthy food choices when dining out:

Think about your beverage
Sodas and sugary drinks are a huge source of calories. Stick with water, or you can order unsweetened iced tea or fat-free or low-fat milk.

Get dressing on the side
Salad dressing can also add unnecessary calories. Request that your salad dressing be served on the side. Then, you can use only what you need. You may also want to choose vinaigrette or oil-based dressing rather than creamy dressings to cut down on calories.

Request whole-wheat bread
If you’re at a restaurant that serves bread before your meal arrives, ask for whole-wheat bread. You can also request whole-wheat bread on your sandwich or as a bun. In addition, order brown rice instead of white rice, and whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta.

Find hidden calories
You can keep an eye out for the most fattening foods at restaurants by reading the menu closely. Watch for words like deep-fried, sauteed, battered, breaded, cheesy, creamy, buttered or creamy. These phrases are usually signs you’ll be eating extra fat and calories.

Ask how it’s cooked
How your food is prepared makes a big difference. If the menu description isn’t clear, ask how the item is cooked. For instance, baking fish with herbs and veggies adds very few calories and fat compared to deep-frying or even sauteeing in sauces or butter. Other great cooking options include grilling, broiling, roasting, poaching and steaming.

Order sauces on the side
Even if you’re ordering a salad or a fish dish that appears to be healthy, be wary of the dressing or sauce. You may be getting tons of calories without even realizing it. As we mentioned earlier, you can request to have these add-ons served on the side. Better yet, you may find that some dishes taste great even without the added sauces. It’s also best to choose marinara or tomato sauce over an alfredo or cream-based sauce.

Choose fruits and veggies
Pick vegetables sides, such as broccoli, cauliflower, corn, green beans, peas or lima beans. You may be able to select a fruit as a side or even for dessert. Just like at home, try to make fruits and vegetables half your plate.

Substitute
You can make substitutions if your meal comes as a platter or combination. Ask to substitute a vegetable for french fries. Or, if your main dish comes with coleslaw, ask for a salad or fresh fruit instead.

Mind your portions
Portions have gotten out of control over the years. It is even more likely you’ll be served an over-sized portion at a restaurant. You can control your portions by splitting a dish with someone else, ordering appetizers as your main dish, or taking home leftovers.

Share dessert
While extremely tasty, desserts at restaurants are typically loaded with calories and fat. To satisfy your sweet tooth, you can split a dessert with a dinner companion. Or, if you’re dining out with a group, order a few desserts to share. You can also order fresh fruit to help balance these more decadent desserts.

Eat slowly and enjoy
Take the time to enjoy your food. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you’re full. If you eat quickly, you are more likely to overeat. Chew your food slowly and be mindful of what you are eating. Savor your food. Eating should be relaxing. When you enjoy your meal, you digest better and feel more satisfied.

You can also prepare ahead of time when you know you might dine out. Plan a light lunch if you know you’re going out to eat for dinner.

You should still eat regular meals rather than skipping meals and over-indulging later. You also don’t want to go to a restaurant starving and then eat too much. Balance your meals throughout the day so you can enjoy eating out without overeating.