Healthy Weight Week: 7 tips to help you succeed
Now that the holiday season has ended, it’s time to honor those New Year’s resolutions. “Losing weight” is one of the most popular on the list; for evidence, all you have to do is visit a crowded gym in early January.
Though exercise is an important part of a weight-loss plan, even more important is diet. Follow these seven tips from Katie Lambert, RD, LD, dietitian at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and you’ll be well on your way to a slimmer, healthier, 2015 version of you.
1. Get colorful
Aim for five to nine servings of richly colored fruits and vegetables a day. Vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber, so they help you feel full longer. And their high levels of vitamins and minerals keep you feeling healthy and energized while they decrease your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
One serving of vegetables is equal to: 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, ½ cup of other vegetables or ½ cup of vegetable juice.
Try adding these to your diet: Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, carrots, eggplant, spinach, kale, asparagus, celery, peppers.
One serving of fruit is equal to: 1 medium fruit (about the size of a baseball), ½ cup of chopped, cooked or canned fruit or ½ cup of fruit juice.
2. Pump up the protein at breakfast
Protein is crucial for weight loss and maintenance. Increasing protein at breakfast will help keep you feeling full longer and eat less at the next meal. And protein uses more calories during digestion than carbohydrates. Research shows that consuming about 25 percent of your daily protein requirements—or about 15 to 20 grams—at breakfast will contribute to better weight maintenance than consuming no protein at breakfast.
Add these to your breakfasts: hard-boiled eggs, low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, turkey sausage, almonds, low-fat milk.
3. Whole grains = longevity
Studies have found that swapping just one serving of whole grains for one serving of red meat a day will increase your longevity by 20 percent. Whole grains are full of fiber; they make you feel full and help you eat less. They can also lower your risk of dying from heart disease. Aim for six servings of grains a day. At least three of these servings should be whole grains; however the more of them you eat, the better.
One serving of grain is equal to: one slice of bread or ½ cup of cooked rice, grain, pasta or cereal.
4. Portion it out
Portion sizes are an important part of weight loss and maintenance. When you pay attention to portion size, you are keeping calorie intake in check. Use measuring cups and spoons when plating your meals. Or imagine your plate has divisions: half of it should be filled with vegetables, one quarter with protein and the final quarter with starches or grains.
5. Drink count
Pay attention to what you drink. Soda, juice, sports drinks, cocktails, beer and wine can be sources of empty calories. Replace these with calorie-free drinks, water or unsweetened iced tea. You’ll be filling yourself up and keeping calories down. Many times we confuse thirst with hunger. Before grabbing for some food, try drinking water; you may be dehydrated, not hungry.
6. Use the one-half- rule when dining out
Don’t let restaurant meals undermine your weight-loss resolution. Because restaurant portions can be large and the food rich, it can be easy to over-indulge. Before you begin your meal, mentally divide your dinner in half. Eat one half—or less—of the meal that’s in front of you. You’ll save at least 400 to 600 calories. And you’ll save money, too; have the second half for lunch or dinner the next day.
7. Count to 10 before caving to a craving
The average food craving lasts about 10 minutes. Before giving in, count to 10, then give yourself a 10-minute challenge: tackle something on your to-do list, take a walk or call a friend. Before long the craving will pass.