Ringing in the New Year always brings with it resolutions to drop those few pounds gained through our annual eating marathon from Thanksgiving to the New Year. I have just finished Murielle Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat and was surprised to see that most of her suggestions echo those that I have practiced for years. My weight has stayed the same since I was about 25 so I know the habits work, at least for me. Just for the record, I weighed 15-20 pounds more through high school and college until I discovered how to maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t ever go on a “diet”. The very word conjures up visions of deprivation and facing an unpleasant experience. Just by tweaking some of your eating habits, you can drop a few pounds without ever feeling like you are on a diet.
- Read ingredients on labels when grocery shopping. If you can’t pronounce it, you don’t want to put it in your body. You will be amazed at what you discover. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious, then frozen with canned being the least.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of your day so be sure to have some protein. I always have a protein shake. It can be made with almond milk, sweeten with Stevia (a natural sweetener with 0 calories that you can find in health food stores) and add frozen berries to make it like a milk shake. Other options are a piece of cheese or an egg with Ezekiel bread or yogurt with good quality granola. You will never get as hungry during the day if you start your day in this way.
- Lunch can be a homemade soup, salad or other fresh vegetables with possibly some lean chicken. When eating out, you never know what has been added to the food. Sugar is a common addictive and most foods have too much salt, rich sauces or added fats which can negate your good intentions.
- Have an afternoon snack of a handful of raw or toasted almonds without salt or an apple, orange or other piece of fruit. The actual fruit is better than juice since it is more nutrition’s and you get the pleasure of chewing while your stomach has to work to digest it and feels more full. Don’t forget to chew each bite thoroughly. This starts the digestive process and also gives your stomach time to realize when it is satisfied.
- Dinner is best when prepared at home for the reasons mentioned above. I often prepare two or three vegetables or a salad and vegetables with a serving of wild-caught fish or chicken. I frequently buy a roasted chicken (free-range antibiotic free), which gives us our meat serving for two meals, and then I can pop the carcass in a pot and cook it to make broth, which include the remaining pieces of chicken. This is the base for a great vegetable soup. (Be sure to skim off the excess fat.) Sometimes I serve a salad with chicken the second night. Options are limitless.
- Drink plenty of water. Our bodies are 70% water and must be hydrated adequately. If you weight 140, you should divide that by half – 70 – and that is the number of ounces of water your body needs daily. Coffee and soft drinks do not substitute for water. If you are drinking several soft drinks each day, remember that a can of Coke contains twelve tablespoons of sugar and the diet Coke is sweetened with a chemical that causes you to crave more sugar. Begin gradually cutting back as you increase water. But, you say, “I just don’t like the taste of water.” We have become so accustomed to drinking flavored drinks that many people don’t like the taste of water. Water from the tap has chlorine and tastes pretty awful so drink filtered water or bottled water. Most refrigerators have filters on their dispensers. You can add a squeeze of lemon to give a better taste and boost your consumption of fruit at the same time. Fruit juice, however, is high in calories so it should not take the place of water.
- Begin moving. If you don’t regularly go to the gym, look for ways to add steps each day. Twenty minutes of daily walking will jump-start your metabolism so that you will burn more calories. More importantly, there are many other health benefits such as helping prevent osteoporosis and helping high blood pressure to name just a few. Take the stairs when possible and park further from the building allowing you to have a little longer walk. Find ways to add more steps, which will add up to twenty minutes without your even realizing it.
- Allow yourself treats. If you love sweets, treat yourself after dinner with a special reward. It is best to have a small, self-contained portion. It is easier to stop at one scoop of ice cream if the whole carton is not there beckoning you! If your weakness is chips, have a handful after dinner for your special reward. Just don’t eat the whole bag. Have a glass of wine if you like. The key is to never feel deprived but to reward yourself with a small portion of your favorite.
After a few weeks of following these simple suggestions, I think you will be surprised at how much better you feel not to mention the pounds you have shed.