I recently came across this article on a popular fitness blog. I almost immediately dismissed the article as another piece telling the reader they are eating too may calories, not fasting enough, not burning enough calories, etc, etc. I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. It is not a topic that is often discussed when talking about weight loss, but “too much” dietary restriction is often the culprit when weight loss fails.
Metabolism 101 is that the body will go into starvation mode and store what food it does get when it’s not being fed. I see this often when working with college students who believe extreme calorie restriction is the answer to their weight problems. We all know calorie restriction can be a slippery slope, so what is the best approach? As the author states, eating enough calories to keep you satiated, but enough to create a calorie deficient that results in a 1 to 2 pound weight loss per week. It’s not a glamorous recommendation or a magic bullet, but one that is proven to work.
“Bikini season” is now in full force. I will admit giving into this phenomenon by purchasing a DVD that claims to have your body bikini ready in one week. Full disclaimer, I do not buy into this marketing ploy, I just happen to be a fan of this fitness person’s exercise regimen As I sweat through the vigorous workout and listen to her drone on about getting bikini ready, I do wonder how many people actually believe this work out will result in bikini worthy abs. Realistically, working out for a week will not result in Olympic style abs, but that doesn’t mean you should give up exercise and healthy eating all together. Establishing long-term healthy lifestyle behaviors will enable you to enjoy food and meet your health & wellness goals.
A few healthy eating tips courtesy of appforhealth:
- Reduce overall calories to promote fat loss. Excess fat is quickly mobilized from the middle, so you’ll quickly see changes to your mid-section, if you lose just a few pounds.
- Reduce or eliminate nutrient-poor carbohydrates (read: candy, soda, baked goods). Simple sugars cause rapid rises in blood sugar and have been linked to excess belly fat. To know the 46+ names food manufacturers use for sugars in their product, use this tool.
- Keep saturated fat to recommended levels (7-10% of total calories) Again, saturated fat has been shown to be linked to larger waistlines, so eat more poly and monounsaturated fats in place of foods rich in sat fats.
- Avoid man-made trans fats, which are still in many foods. To tell if a processed food contains trans fats, look for partially-hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list.
- Eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Diets rich in these foods are consistently associated with smaller waistlines.
- Enjoy nonfat or lowfat plain Greek yogurt. Yogurt may help whittle your middle and the beneficial probiotics may help alter your gut bacteria to keep your GI tract healthy.
½c fresh lime juice
3 T honey
1 t cumin
2 cloves garlic
1 t sea salt & black pepper
½ c olive oil
1 head romaine, chopped ½” pieces
½ ea red & orange pepper, ¼“ dice
½ med red onion, diced in ¼” pieces
½ med jicama, peeled & ¼” dice
1med zucchini, ¼” dice
4 med tomatoes, seeded & ¼” dice
3 c corn kernels, fresh, grilled (or frozen)
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
½ c cilantro, finely chopped
tortilla strips, crispy
1. mix lime juice, honey, cumin, garlic, s&p, whisk in oil
1. combine all vegetables, toss with dressing, top with tortilla chips
This blog post by Ellie Krieger completely resonated with me simply because these are words commonly associated with food that are negative, shame inducing & scientifically inaccurate.
Though the actual blog provides much more detail, I have summarized Krieger’s main points below.
Detox: As Krieger points out the word “detox” implies that your body is unable to rid itself of harmful compounds & unless you engage in a radical eating plan, your body will be filled with toxins. What many detox proponents fail to mention is that our kidneys & liver do this job adequately.
Cleanse: Same idea as detox (Krieger likens these terms to cousins). A promise of body purity that never lives up to its claims.
Skinny: Our world is inundated with images of skinny bodies. When skinny is used to describe food products, we fail to see the purpose of food, which is to nourish our body.
Never: Applying the term never to any situation almost always backfires, especially when it comes to foods. The term never sets the stage for food obsession & rebellion.
Perfect: A toxic term when used to describe food behaviors and body image.
1 prepared pizza crust or oval flatbread
2 T olive oil
2-3 peaches, peel on, sliced ⅓”
¼-½ Ib brie cheese, rind removed, sliced
¼ c basil leaves, torn
1. Pre-heat grill to medium
2. Drizzle peach slices with 2T olive oil, toss to coat
3. Grill peaches, 2 mins per side, remove
4. Coat both sides of crust with cooking spray
5. Grill each side, 1-2 mins
6. Top crust with peaches & brie
7. Put pizza on grill rack or pizza stone, cook 3-5 more mins
8. Remove to cutting board, sprinkle with basil, slice
Note: can do final cooking of whole pizza in a 400 ̊ oven.
Calorie In, Calorie Out. That is a term I heard over and over again in my training and continued research into the science of weight loss. Of course, this old adage doesn’t take into account the complexities of human beings and what drives us to eat (or not eat).
The latest villain in the diet world is sugar and although we know large consumption of sugar can be harmful, sugar is not toxic when ingested in modest amounts. Carbohydrates (i.e. sugar) is the primary fuel our body uses to give us energy. What type of sugar should we be ingesting? Natural occurring sugars from fruits, vegetables, low fat milk/dairy foods. The sugar that increases our risk for diseases such as obesity & diabetes comes from “added sugars” that simply contribute empty calories (calories with little to no nutritional value). Added sugars include: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, evaporated cane juice, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose & table sugar.
For more information on how to spot added sugars in foods check out this blog on appforhealth.
¼ t sea salt
¼ t lemon zest
½ t lemon juice
2 T white balsamic vinegar
¼ c olive oil
1 english cucumber, peeled, cut lengthwise, seeded, sliced
1 c blueberries, rinsed
3 c arugula, coarsely chopped
½ c fresh mint, chopped
½ c feta cheese crumbles
1. Mix salt, lemon zest, juice & vinegar; whisk in olive oil
2. Toss cucumber & blueberries together
3. Add arugula, mint, feta & dressing; toss gently
There are endless trends when it comes to nutrition but the one that appears to be taking center stage is gluten free diets. It is estimated that around 22 % of adults are trying to avoid gluten, creating an estimated 8.8 billion dollar market. It goes without saying that this is big business for food companies. But, is a gluten free diet really the way to go? Is the big boom in gluten free diets out of necessity? Anyone who has considered going gluten free should read this article The Gluten Enigma appearing in the March/April issue of Eating Well. This article explores gluten sensitivity and addresses the myth of gluten free diets for weight loss. Although this article is unlikely to totally clear up the controversy regarding gluten free diets, hopefully it will help consumers make the best decision when it comes to their diet.
We all could use a little help with our eating habits and Appetite for Health has provided some great tips to get us started with healthier eating for the warmer months.
1. Snack Smarter.
Start by changing the “snack ratio” in the house. Slowly and gradually have more fruits, veggies, and healthier snack choices around, rather than the typical, higher-calorie junk food. Fresh produce is abundant in the spring season – so make watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, peaches, blueberries and other fruits your “go-to” sweet snack items in place of cookies, ice cream or candy bars. I love to combine fresh fruit with non fat greek yogurt as a way to keep me full between meals, while maximizing taste and good nutrition. Want more great snack ideas? Check out Julie’s list of “Skinny 100-Calorie Snacks”.
2. Get a “Hand”le on Portions.
Regularly consuming super-sized portions is one of the quickest ways to derail your diet. Develop a healthy habit of selecting sensible-sized food portions. If your plate has a serving of rice that can’t fit into the cupped palm of your hand then you’ve probably taken too much. Using this “cup of your hand” technique is a good way to mentally measure the amounts of foods that go onto your plate. For a good guide to estimating healthy portions using your hand, check out this chart.
3. Slash Your Soda Intake.
Can you commit to going soda-free this summer? Why not! Try slowly weaning yourself off calorie-containing soft drinks. Delicious, thirst-quenching alternatives include unsweetened iced tea or water with slices of orange or lemon . If you want to keep your ‘fizz’, try a beverage of ¼ cup 100% fruit juice mixed with seltzer.
4. Choose Low-Calorie Sauces and Dips.
Take advantage of great summer salads for main courses and appetizers, but have sauces and dressings served on the side. This step alone can save you hundreds of calories. Instead of dousing salads with rich dressings, dip your fork into a small dish of dressing and then pick up your food. This will impart the flavor of your dressing with every bite, but without adding too many calories. If you find yourself at a party with lots of chips and dips… either avoid them altogether, or portion out a handful of chips (better yet – opt for veggies if they are available) and pair with a few tablespoons of healthier dips like hummus, salsa, or bean dip.
5. Eat Breakfast.
Really. I mean it. This one can make a big difference in how many total calories you consume for the day. A healthy breakfast choice may establish your hormonal appetite regulation system for the day. A scone or muffin with coffee might sound good, but won’t tame your cravings or temper your appetite as much as a protein-rich breakfast from eggs (6 grams protein per 70-calorie med egg), egg whites (the protein is split between the yolk and white but the white is lower in calories), oatmeal with peanut butter or yogurt (esp Greek yogurt); yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit; or nut butters with a protein-rich whole-grain bread. If you’re eating cold cereal, look for brands that provide at least six grams protein per serving and have with a cup of skim or 1% milk will add an additional 10 grams protein.
For good ideas on what to eat for breakfast, check out our article on 10 Healthy Breakfasts in Less than 10 Minutes.
6. Make Mondays Meatless.
You may have heard the “Meatless Mondays” slogan, which started as a way to help the war effort during WWI. Now it’s a nationwide movement (meatlessmonday.com). Why take the pledge? Going meatless just one day a week can decrease your risk for cancer and other major health issues.
7. Expand Your “Grain Universe”.
You’re into quinoa? Great! Now venture a little deeper into the world of whole grains. Not only do they taste terrific, there are many health benefits to be gained by expanding your “Grain Universe”. Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. While benefits are most pronounced for those consuming at least 3 servings daily, some studies show reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. The message: every whole grain in your diet helps! Don’t know how to cook more exotic whole grains? Check out this great guide from Cooking Light.
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thaw
¼ c unsalted butter
12 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cut strips
1 t sea salt, divided
½ t ground black pepper, divided
1 Ib slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut 1” diagonal pieces
1½ t chopped fresh thyme
1½ t finely grated lemon peel
½ c crème fraîche or greek yogurt
½ c grated Gruyére cheese (packed)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Roll pastry sheets to 10” square, cut each into 4 squares
3. With knife, score ½” border around inside edge each square
4. Arrange squares on baking sheets
5. Sauté mushrooms, ¼ t ea s&p 4-5 mins, cool
6. Mix mushrooms, asparagus, thyme, lemon peel, ¾ t salt & ¼ t pepper, crème fraîche & cheese
7. Mound filling atop pastry squares, leaving ½” border
8. Bake tarts 8-10 mins, rotate sheets. Bake 6-8 mins more until puffed & golden
9. Transfer to plates: garnish with thyme