Avoid These New Year’s Diet Blunders

By avoiding these common diet blunders, the New Year will bring a new you!

By avoiding these common diet blunders, the New Year will bring a new you!

The New Year provides a chance to start fresh and dream big. Many people will be making resolutions for 2016, myself included.

If your resolution has anything to do with improving your health or fitness, you’re not alone. Over half of us will make some sort of health resolution. Unfortunately, 90 percent of us will fail to follow through with our goal by Valentine’s Day.

While we can blame lack of willpower, there are a few diet blunders that can easily be avoided to make sure you reach your goal. Don’t let these diet roadblocks ruin your New Year’s resolution:

1. Cut out entire food groups or nutrients.

Low-fat, no sugar, gluten-free—if you’re jumping on board with these elimination diets to drop a few pounds, you’re not going to get lasting results. After all, these diets do not build realistic lifestyle habits.

One of the most common diet trends is to cut out carbohydrates or sugar. First, let me just say that carbohydrates are not to blame. When you choose the wrong kind of carbohydrate (think cookies, candy, and soda) and eat excessive amounts then, yes, that will inevitably end a greater waistline. But it’s also important to remember that carbs are an important source of fuel for your body. If you regularly feel sluggish and fatigued, it may be a good idea to look at your carbohydrate intake and ensure you’re getting the right kind in the right amount throughout the day.

One serving of carbs is about 1 cup (or the size of your fist). Stick with carbohydrates that are a good source of fiber and provide protein as well. Here are a few suggestions: Ezekiel sprouted-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta and bread, and Qrunch Organics quinoa burger. Of course, fruits and vegetables are always good sources of carbohydrates.

2. Skip meals or snacks to cut back on calories.

While it may seem easy to just cut calories by skipping snacks and meals, it’s important to eat every 3 to 4 hours. Go much longer than that and you’ll become hungry and angry, or “hangry” as us Millennials call it. Once “hangry” sets in, a salad with grilled chicken just won’t do.

Keeping healthy snacks on hand is the best way to avoid becoming “hangry.” Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Trail mix with nuts, raisins, wasabi peas, and dried edamame
  • Hummus with bell pepper slices and snap peas
  • Cottage cheese with a bit of salsa and 3 tortilla chips crumbled on top

3. Keep tempting foods in the pantry or refrigerator.

If your kitchen is anything like mine after the holidays, it’s littered with canisters of caramel popcorn and tupperware of homemade cookies. At this point, come to the realization that you’ve had your change to enjoy these indulgences and it’s now time to say goodbye.
The first thing to do when embarking on a health goal is to clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Get rid of any tempting treats that you know will sabotage your diet and instead full your fridge and pantry with delicious, clean foods you’ll be excited to eat. Be sure to put my staple items on your grocery list:

  • Fruit: Berries, Apples, Bananas
  • Vegetables: Lettuce, Broccoli, Bell Peppers, Carrots, Snap Peas
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Almond butter (or other nut butter)
  • Protein bars and shakes
  • Turkey or Ham Lunchmeat
  • Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • String Cheese
  • 100% Whole-Wheat Bread
  • Nuts
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Sparking water

4. Forget about exercise.

What you eat is about 70 percent of the weight loss equation. Exercise is the other 30 percent. If you want to reach your goals quicker and plan for them to stick for years to come, you cannot neglect exercise.

A couple things to consider:

  • Do a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training. Cardiovascular training will get your heart rate up and resistance training will build muscle fast (and in turn, boost metabolism).
  • Go shopping for fashionable workout gear. Use those gift cards you got from Santa to treat yourself to stylish apparel. You’ll be more motivated to workout hard when you feel good about yourself.
  • Don’t have a gym membership? No problem! Run hills at a park near by, check out doyogawithme.com, or follow workout routines found in health magazines like Women’s Health.

 

ABC segment

I loved sharing these tips on ABC 15 Arizona!

Is Flexible Dieting More Than a Fad?

With Flexible Dieting, you can enjoy your favorite foods without the guilt--as long as it fits your macros.

With Flexible Dieting, you can enjoy your favorite foods without the guilt–as long as it fits your macros.

This article was published on FoodandNutrition.org.

It’s tempting to dismiss the newest diet trend — called “flexible dieting” — as just another fad. But, the thing about flexible dieting is that it’s deliberately “anti-fad,” and, when done right, could help build life-long habits for healthy, balanced eating.

Rather than focusing solely on total calorie intake, flexible dieting takes into account the source of calories by tracking consumed grams of macronutrients — protein, carbohydrate and fat.

The concepts behind flexible dieting are not based on any new philosophy in the nutrition world. At the diet’s core is the idea that you should be able to enjoy any food in moderation — yes, a diet that says you can have an occasional donut or brownie — just as long as you can account for it in your total macronutrient intake for the day. For this reason, the phrase, “If it fits your macros,” has become something of a flexible dieting slogan.

How to Get Started on a Flexible Diet

How can you start flexible dieting? First, determine the total calories you should be consuming in a day, using ChooseMyPlate.gov. Then, calculate how to distribute those daily allotted calories using the USDA’s Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges: 45 to 65 percent from carbohydrates; 10 to 35 percent from protein; and 20 to 35 percent from fat.

Or, even better, consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist to get a truly customized analysis of your macronutrient needs to achieve body composition goals.

After you’ve set your daily macronutrient totals, you track your total grams of protein, carbs and fat consumed from meals and snacks every day. While this can be the most inconvenient part of following the flexible diet, it serves as a strong educational tool. Knowing how many grams of carbohydrate are in a donut or how many grams of protein are in a chicken breast can help people make healthy food choices even when they are no longer tracking every morsel eaten.

Another advantage of following the flexible diet is that all three macronutrients are accounted for in the diet. These all play important roles in health. Many traditional fad diets reduce or eliminate a macronutrient (think low-fat, low-carb, etc.), leaving the dieter feeling deprived and often leading to overindulgence. While these diets may work for the short-term, they are not realistic life-long eating routines.

If you’re interested in integrating the philosophy of flexible dieting, commit to seriously tracking your dietary intake for at least two weeks to gain an understanding of the macronutrient composition of foods you commonly consume. As you become more aware, you will not need to track every meal. While it’s not a point of focus for flexible dieting, it’s also important to take into account micronutrient intake and fiber. After all, you still need to make sound nutrition choices. Otherwise this would just be another fad diet.

Hold The Gluten

Gluten-free labels don't equate to healthy foods.

Gluten-free labels on foods doesn’t mean they are healthy.

In the 1960s, the link between saturated fats and heart disease resulted in a low-fat diet craze with a corresponding spike in carbohydrate consumption. Although originally introduced in the 1970s, the Atkins diet hit its peak at the end of the century, telling people to put down bread and pick up bacon. Today, the gluten-free diet—which focuses on avoiding foods that contain the grain protein—has taken the diet community by storm.

Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt, making most bread, pasta and tortillas off limits for gluten-free dieters. Because of gluten’s stabilizing characteristic (meaning it helps hold food products together), it’s also found in unexpected foods—soy sauce, salad dressings, and beer, to name a few. Although more and more gluten-free products are a popping up on grocery store shelves, it can be hard to completely avoid gluten in your diet.

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity

For people with celiac disease, avoiding gluten is not a choice; it’s a necessity. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that effects about 1 percent of the population (1). If a person with celiac disease eats gluten, the body sees it as a foreign invader and attacks, resulting in a destroyed intestinal tract and decreased absorption of essential nutrients. A range of symptoms can arise from the disease including digestive problems, migraines, rashes, fatigue, ulcers, and muscle cramps.

This array of symptoms can make diagnosis of celiac disease difficult. Additionally, antibody testing or genetic testing results can suggest the prevalence of celiac disease, but cannot confirm it. If the screening tests come back positive, an invasive biopsy of the small intestine is need to diagnose a patient.

Because symptoms are not black and white, many people with celiac disease undergo years of discomfort and illness before being diagnosed. In fact, the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center estimates that 97 percent of people with symptoms don’t know they have the disease (2). Additionally, some people may have gluten sensitivity, meaning they have negative reactions when they eat gluten—bloating, constipation, headaches, and joint pain—but don’t test positive for celiac disease or a wheat allergy.

Cut gluten to lose weight

While a gluten-free diet is very effective for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, it has turned into a fad weight-loss diet. A survey found that 30 percent of adults find a gluten-free diet appealing because it’s considered to be “healthy” (3).

Similar to the low-fat diet craze or the Adkin’s diet revolution, the gluten-free diet acts as an elimination diet. If you cut out a large portion of foods that you commonly consume—whether that be carbohydrates, fats, or foods with gluten—you are likely to lose weight.

Think of it this way: You’re at a work potluck and avoiding all things gluten. The pasta dish with Italian sausage and mozzarella cheese is off limits. Don’t even reach for one of Susie’s famous butter-baked rolls. Keep walking past the gluten-filled cake topped with frosting.

By avoiding these foods that you would normally indulge in, you’re cutting back on calories consumed, which supports weight loss.

The ideal situation would be for you to replace foods with gluten (plus excess fat, sodium, and sugar) with healthier options—fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats. Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case.

Even special gluten-free foods you find at the grocery store have added fat to make up for flavor and texture and many times are higher in calories than version with gluten. Food companies are cashing in on the gluten-free hype by slapping GF labels on foods like cookies, chips, and candy. A gluten-free label doesn’t always equate to healthy.

Should you go gluten-free?

With so many undiagnosed people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, should you go gluten-free? If you experience extreme symptoms like those mentioned above, it may be worth it to do a little trial and error. Commit to cutting out gluten for a week and see how you feel. (Remember celiac disease only affects 1 percent of healthy people or 1 out of 133 people.)

But beware of the placebo effect—assuming that the intervention is effective when it’s really just in your head. Many times taking control of your diet (and possibly experiencing weight loss) can make you feel like the gluten in your diet was holding you back. If your positive improvements are the result of a placebo effect, it’s likely that your commitment to gluten-free will dwindle away because the benefit isn’t worth the difficulty of the lifestyle change.

If you continue with the gluten-free lifestyle, experience drastic improvements in how you feel, and think you may have an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten, visit your doctor and get the appropriate testing.

Just remember, going gluten-free isn’t as easy as it sounds, doesn’t always mean weight loss, and cuts out a lot of options at your work potluck.

References

  1. Rubio-Tapia A, Ludvigsson JF, Brantner TL, et al. The prevalence of celiac disease in the United States. Am J Gastoenterol 2012; 107(10):1158-44.
  2. University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. Facts and Figures: http://www.uchospitals.edu/pdf/uch_007937.pdf
  3. NPD Group. Percentage of US adults trying to cut down or avoid gluten in their diets reaches new high in 2013, reports NPD. 2013. https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/percentage-of-us-adults-trying-to-cut-down-or-avoid-gluten-in-their-diets-reaches-new-high-in-2013-reports-npd/

Pros and Cons of Paleo

meat

The Paleo diet encourages high meat intake but eliminates grains and dairy. Credit: Flicker

The world was a different place 2.6 million years ago. Nomads roamed the earth in small groups, constantly on the hunt for their next meal. Men used stones, sticks, and bones as hunting tools while women and children gathered nuts and berries. They lived in huts, created cave paintings, and used open fire to cook. Hunger, disease, and injury were among the leading causes of death and most didn’t live long enough to celebrate their 30th birthday.

Not quite the same lifestyle most of us live today, right? So why would eating a diet similar to those who lived in the Paleolithic era be the answer to health?

The founder of the Paleo movement, Loren Cordain, Ph.D., states on his website that the Paleo diet is “based upon the fundamental concept that the optimal diet is the one to which we are genetically adapted”. Others who profess the benefits of eating Paleo take it a step further and claim that the diseases we see today–heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity–are all do to the fact that we have strayed from the diet of our ancesters.

But are human beings genetically identical to the nomads of the Paleo times? In short, no. Our bodies are much different. It’s a simple application of Darwin’s evolution theory: “survival of the fittest”. Certain traits that have benefited survival, such as the ability to easily digest starches or to resist malaria or survive at higher altitudes, contributed to the evolution of human beings.

Still, people are carving through red meat at every meal, eating globs of coconut oil, and swearing off green beans with the hope of getting that caveman body. It’s pretty easy as a dietitian to toss the Paleo Diet into the too-good-to-be-true fad diet pile. But with so many people swearing by its benefits, I thought I would dive into it a bit more and examine the pros and cons of eating Paleo.

Pros

  • Focuses on whole, minimally processed foods. If following the Paleo diet is going to get you off your Hostess Twinkie addiction, then maybe it’s the diet for you. It’s true that most American diets are highly processed and too high in sodium and sugar. According to the CDC, the average American adult consumes over 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily. That’s a lot more than the recommended 1500-2300 milligrams. Additionally, added sugar intake has increased over the last decade and is estimate to make up 10 percent of calorie intake (1). Eating whole, fresh foods as encouraged by the Paleo diet is going to undoubtably improve your health.
  • Encourages eating protein throughout the day. If you want to lose weight, eat more protein. If you want to build muscle, eat more protein. If you want to break a weight loss plateau, eat more protein. If you want to preserve muscle as you age, eat more protein. Getting quality protein throughout the day supports muscle tissue growth which stimulates metabolism and supports fat burn (2). Additionally, it keeps you fuller longer so you aren’t tempted to overindulge at mealtime. Lean proteins such as chicken, trimmed red meats, and fish are the way to go. (Dairy products are also a great way to get quality protein at every meal, but that’s not allowed on the Paleo Diet. More on this below.)
  • Spotlights health and the importance of nutrition. Fad diets can usually do more harm than good. However, I do see benefit in encouraging people to take a look at their diet and lifestyle and make changes for the better. If you think of the Paleo diet merely as a set of guidelines rather than rules, then it could help you lose weight and improve your health.

Cons

  • Meat overload. My friends that have tried the Paleo diet enjoy the freedom to eat a plump chicken breast, savory sausage link, or monstrous steak at every meal. But the fact is that meals like this may have only occurred once or twice a month for a Paleo person. Most days, meat commonly consisted of eating bugs, lizards, small fish, or snails. (There would probably be a lot less people following the diet if that was on the menu!) While recent evidence shows that saturated fat found in meats is not as bad as we once thought for cardiovascular health (3), it’s still calorie dense. Additionally, study after study supports a mostly plant-based diet as the key to longevity (4).
  • Dairy is a big no-no. This one kills me. There are so many health benefits to including dairy in your diet, everything from heart health to weight management. However, because the Paleo peoples didn’t eat dairy, it’s on the banned list. An important argument to address here is that humans have evolved to tolerate dairy (5). While some many have lactose intolerance or milk allergies (although rare), many people can not only tolerate dairy but can truly benefit from it’s protein and calcium content.
  • Grains, beans, and legumes are not allowed. While I do see benefit in limiting the amount of processed grains, eliminating qunioa, buckwheat, amaranth and other hearty gain sources may take it too far. Whole grains provide health amounts of fiber and provide the body with a low-glycemic source of energy. Additionally, legumes such as beans, peas and lentils supply the body with much-needed nutrients such as potassium, folate, iron, and magnesium.
  • It’s difficult to adhere to. It’s impossible to eat exactly as our ancestors ate. Just as the human body had evolved, so has food. The meat from the butcher is not the same as the meat on wild animals millions of years ago (6). It was likely much leaner with the fat content providing around 10 percent of calories or lower. Additionally, fruits and vegetables are not the same. They have been harvested over centuries and selected based on those that had desirable traits such as the ability to grow under harsh climates.

While I disagree with the elimination of dairy and grains, the foundation of the Paleo diet–eating fruits and vegetables, emphasizing the importance of protein, and reducing the amount of processed foods–is sound nutritional advice. By following these principles and exercising daily, you’ll have the body of a caveman in no time.

References

  1. Yang Q, Zhang Z, Gregg EW, et al. Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA 2014. doi: 10.1001/jamainteranmed.2013.13563
  2. Mamerow MM, Mettler JA, English KL, et al. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. J Nutr 2014. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.185280
  3. Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, et al. Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: A systemic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med 2014;160(6):398-406. doi: 10.7326/M13-1788.
  4. Orlich MJ, Singh PN, Sabate J, et al. Vegetarian dietary patterns and mortality in adventist health study 2. JAMA 2013;173(13):1230-1238. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6473
  5. Hollox, E. Evolutionary genetics: Genetics of lactase persistence – fresh lessons in the history of milk drinking. European Journal of Human Genetics 20o5;13:267-269. doi: 10.1038/sj/ejhg.5201297.
  6. Eaton SB, Eaton SB 3rd, Konner MJ. Paleolithic nutrition revisited: a twelve-year retrospect on its nature and implications. Eur J Clin Nutr 1997;52(4):207-8.

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How much protein should I be eating?

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How much protein should I be eating?

1336457773_flexing muscles god change brain

A protein-rich diet isn’t just for those who like to show off their “guns”.

Protein has become buzzword in the nutrition world. It is popping up on the front of food packaging and health magazines. I am usually a skeptic when it comes to the latest food craze—and with good reason—but I have to admit that research backs this one up.

From stimulating muscle growth to boosting satiety and improving blood sugar control, a diet higher in protein can help you reach your health goal whether it is to drop a few pounds or age healthfully. In fact, evidence shows that we may need more protein than previously thought.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein has been set at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for adults 19 and older. That means a person who weighs 150 pounds (or 68 kg) would need 55 grams of protein per day. However, that number is required to prevent deficiency, or levels where health complications may develop. A higher protein intake may not just keep you healthy; it may substantially improve your health and well-being.

The Institute of Medicine’s Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for protein is from 0.8 to at least 2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. For the same 150-pound person, the range of protein intake would be  between 55 and 170 grams of protein per day.

Note: To put things into perspective, a six-ounce steak is 40 grams of protein, three-ounce chicken breast is 30 grams, and one large egg is 6 grams.

A diet higher in protein is no longer just for bodybuilders who are looking for a bulky and toned physique. Many studies have shown that a protein-rich diet is key for weight loss and maintenance. One of the main reasons is that eating a high-protein diet can increase satiety so you are fuller, longer. Also, stimulating muscle growth an increase your metabolic rate, meaning you will burn more calories.

Another thing to consider is that as we get older, we gradually lose muscle mass. Eating a diet higher in protein can slow this process so you can have mobility and optimal health as you age.

Convinced that you need to bump up the protein in your diet? Here is how, from breakfast to dinner:

Breakfast:

  • Scrambled eggs and Canadian bacon or turkey sausage
  • Greek yogurt with almonds and berries
  • Cottage cheese with fruit and nuts
  • Whole-wheat toast and nut butter (I like almond best!)
  • Smoothie with whey protein powder and fruit
  • Steal-cut oatmeal with non-fat milk and dried cranberries

Lunch:

  • Grilled chicken salad
  • Tuna sandwich (Use Greek yogurt instead of mayo.)
  • Turkey, Swiss cheese, and vegetables in a whole-wheat wrap
  • Mexican salad with chickpeas, black beans, and avocado (Salsa makes for the perfect dressing.)

Dinner:

  • Tofu stir-fry
  • Grilled salmon or other fish with bakes vegetables
  • Roasted pork tenderloin (a lean cut of red meat) and dinner salad
  • Ground turkey sautéed with herbs and spices for lettuce wraps

Choose lean proteins and don’t forget about complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. A balanced diet is a healthy diet!

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What I Ate Wednesday

 My eats for the week:

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{Lemon lime sparkling seltzer water for when I want something other than plain water.}

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{Eric’s favorite–buffalo chicken lasagna. I made it healthier by using low-fat ricotta cheese and reduced the number of lasagna layers; paired with a salad.} 

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{Heirloom tomatoes for an afternoon snack.}

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{I am currently addicted to smoked salmon… on Ezekiel toast with a bit of low-fat cream cheese, paired with olives and asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.}

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{These seaweed chips were surprisingly delicious and conquered my salt craving. I love trying new foods.}

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{I had some “about-to-go-bad” apples in my fridge so I decided to make baked apple slices. They were SO good.. just like home-made apple pie. Sprinkle with a dash of sugar and cinnamon and bake until tender.}

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{Lunch with my co-workers is always an adventure. This is my first time trying Korean food and, man, was it good.}

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A Healthy Holiday Hors d’Oeuvre: Olive Tapenade

Source: Nutrition & Food

Source: Nutrition & Food

One of the best ways to make sure you do not overindulge at a holiday party is to bring a dish that you know is healthy and fits into your diet. You can never go wrong with a veggie tray or humus and crackers, but if you feel like trying something new, check out the recipe below. Very easy and nutritious!

Olive Tapenade

Recipe by Elena Paravantes, RD This recipe calls for using Greek olives called throubes. These meaty olives are unique because they are the only olives that are left to ripen and shrivel on the tree. If you can’t find them at a Greek market, use kalamon (kalamata) olives instead. Pair with crackers of your choice.

Ingredients
7 ounces throubes olives, rinsed and pit removed
1 garlic clove
Capers, to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Herbs such as thyme or rosemary or oregano

Instructions

  1. Grind the olives into a paste in a food processor.
  2. Add the crushed garlic clove and continue mixing.
  3. Add the herbs and spices and continue mixing until the paste is smooth.

Nutrition information
Serving size: 1 tablespoon
Calories: 40, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Protein: 0 g, Fat: 4 g

To-Die-For Vegetable Marinade

Vegetables get a bad rap. It seems that they have to be drenched in Ranch dressing or drowning in Valveeta cheese to even have a chance as a successful side dish. Unfortunately, these fat-laden toppings can take away from the many health benefits vegetables have to offer.

Veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals (plant-derived compounds that have been shown to positively influence health). Diets high in vegetables have been linked to reduced heart disease, obesity, and digestive issues. Five servings of vegetables is recommended per day (one serving = 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables; 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetbales; 6-8 carrot sticks).

A healthy alternative to adding fatty toppings to veggies is to use a marinade–add flavor by soaking veggies in a liquid mixture with various condiments, spices and herbs. Try out my favorite marinade below:

Step 1: Cut up your favorite veggies.

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Step 2: In a plastic zip-lock bag, add in olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, dijon mustard, fresh chopped garlic, and a little bit of honey.

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Step 3: Place veggies in bag with marinade and massage the bag so vegetables are covered. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Then, grill, sautee or bake!

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You can also use this marinade for chicken or pork. Enjoy!

What I Ate Wednesday

Some times all you need is a little inspiration to show you that eating healthy can still be delicious. Check out my eats for the week:

{“Blanched” Green Beans: A cooking technique where you boil vegetables until they are tender, then place them in an ice bath, followed by sauteeing, grilling, or even boiling again. Using this method keeps veggies crisp rather than soggy.}

{Yummy Mexican salad with tortilla crusted tilapia from Costco, fresh salsa for dressing, Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, and a little splurge with a Corona Light.}

{A great snack for on-the-go, the creamy texture of V8 juice fills me up. I also enjoy an afternoon mocktail–pour V8 over ice in a glass, add olives and a dash of pepper. Delish!}

{Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I LOVE cereal. Instead of being tempted by sugar coated treats, go with a low-sugar, whole-grain, high-protein cereal and throw in fresh fruit to punch up the flavor. Blueberries are my favorite.}

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No Excuses! Helpful Diet Tips

Switch to Small Plate

Falling off the “health wagon” is fairly easy to do. Eating out, exhaustion, and excessive portion sizes can wreak havoc on your diet. Here are some tips and tricks to help you stay aboard!

Google Search: Before heading out to a restaurant, search online to find the nutrition information of the menu. Many times foods that sound healthy, such as salads, can have more calories and fat than you would think. Create a cheat sheet on your phone with healthy options so you can refer to it in the future. As a general guideline, aim for less than 600 calories for dinner.

Fruit & Veggie Reminder: Eating the recommended 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day can be a fairly difficult task. One way to ensure that you are getting the necessary nutrients is to wear 10 stretchy bracelets on one wrist and transfer to the other for each serving you consume. If you aren’t into the jewelry idea, try keeping a tally on a Post-It note or use magnets on the fridge to signify the amount eaten (This can also be a fun activity for kids). By eating 10 servings of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables per day, you will be satisfied and less likely to binge on fatty snacks.

Switch Plates: Use your main dish for vegetables and salad and your “salad” dish for side starch and protein. Research shows that eating on a smaller plate reduces the amount eaten by helping to control portion size and encouraging mindful eating. With this method, there is no need to buy new dishware, and it promotes eating more nutritious and belly-friendly vegetables.

Meal Prep: The number one reason that we choose fast food over home-cooked meals is exhaustion. After a long day of work, the last thing we want to do is slave over the stove. Avoid this by having meals prepared ahead of time. The best time for meal prep is on the weekends for most people. When you get home from the store, prepare 2 or 3 meals than can easily be stored for later on in the week—chop up vegetables, make a salad, cube meat, boil noodles, make dressings. To add to the ease, through the ingredients in a cock-pot before you leave for the day. A delicous meal will be waiting when you get home! Exhaustion will no longer be an obstacle for eating healthy.

What diet tips do YOU use??

Be Well!

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