Friday, December 6, 2013

5 Easy Changes to Get Started with Weight Loss

1. Eliminate fried foods
This is the first thing I did when I started my journey, and I can say without a doubt that it was the most crucial thing I did. Any food that is fried can be prepared in another way that is just as delicious as the food when it’s fried. Frying food adds calories and fat without adding any nutritional value – never a good choice!

As you can see, one medium sweet potato has 103 calories and no fat. One side serving of sweet potato fries has 330 calories and 12 grams of fat. It's easy to see the drastic impact of frying food!

It’s hard to do this in our society. Most restaurants only offer fried or mayonnaise drenched foods as side dishes. Eliminating fried foods is a first step toward mindfulness and the practice of making better food choices. That being said, when your weight is stable and you are physically active, fried foods can be a nice treat every now and then. I almost never order anything fried, but I will have a bite or two of fries when friends and family order them!

2. Stop drinking your calories 
From The Health Guru

This is another one of the significant changes I made when I first started losing weight. I knew on some level that soda, tea and other drinks had calories, but I didn't know how many. As with fried foods, the calories you get from drinks are nutrient poor. One of the biggest misconceptions is that fruit juices are healthy. The processes used to create juice from the original fruit strips out the fiber and leaves just the sugar. Although you are getting some vitamins and minerals, they aren't packaged with the same benefits as they are in the original fruit.

I now drink primarily water and brewed tea with no added sweeteners. I do indulge in alcoholic beverages about once a week, and usually have no more than two drinks in a sitting. If you are struggling with this, I suggest adding an inch of juice (with no added sugars) to 16-20 ounces of water. This will give it some flavor without making a huge impact on your caloric intake.

An added bonus of removing fried foods and sugary drinks is that you are refining taste buds – natural foods like fruit and vegetables will start to taste better!

3. Add a vegetable to every meal or snack
Fresh fruit and vegetable intake is usually where most standard American diets are lacking. An easy fix for this is to add one serving of your favorite vegetable to each meal, at the beginning if possible. Most of us can think of at least one raw vegetable that is palatable (carrots, celery, cucumber, bell pepper and tomato are the most common). Eating a serving of vegetables before each meal can help you feel more full and isn’t as difficult as modifying your whole way of eating.

4. Cook one more meal a week than you usually do
Food from restaurants almost always has more calories than foods you could prepare at home. Restaurant chefs and cooks aren't worried about measuring, and they know that adding salt, sugar and fat will make the food taste better (and consequently be more addictive). Cooking at home also saves money.
The Internet is full of recipes and many websites are devoted to cooking quick, healthy meals. Your local library will have cookbooks available as printed books and ebooks. You can take a cooking class or watch cooking video tutorials on YouTube. Cooking at home helps you learn about food and try new things in a safe environment.

Once you get started, keep adding a day/meal a week to your home cooking regimen. If you stick with it, you will get to a point where you cook the majority of meals at home. One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday is to make a pot of soup that can be dinner on Monday and lunch throughout the week. Leftovers will be your best friend!

5. Treat Yo Self
Yes, I am a Parks & Rec addict.

My message here is that weight loss won’t be sustainable if you can’t find a way to still enjoy yourself. Food is tied to emotion, ritual, and culture.

There are two things I did when I started my journey related to this:
I made sure to eat “dessert” every day (I have a sweet tooth). I still do this, but now my dessert is oatmeal with fresh fruit. One square of dark chocolate is low calorie, delicious, and more nutritious than ice cream or baked goods. You can make your own baked goods with no oil and natural sweeteners. Fruit is a great choice too.

I stopped using food as a reward. Whenever I accomplished something or wanted to celebrate, my instinct was to use food. Get an A on a paper – go out to dinner. I started using other things as rewards and this helped me change my emotional relationship with food.

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