Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lesson 3: Healthy Eating

Yep, most of us just need to eat healthier and eat less. I am guessing we all know what that means. But, if you want a little refresher, here are some tips. And, remember, the definition of healthy can vary - a lot. I have to set the bar on the low side - otherwise I may just drive myself nuts! I am in LOVE with carbs. Any kind of carb. I have been trying to eat more foods I prepare and fewer prepackaged foods, more 'natural' foods (foods that come from the earth) fewer foods from a factory. I have nothing against pre-packaged foods. I still use them a lot. I just figure that fruits and vegetables are probably better for me than oreos. But, it is a work in progress.

That are lots of ways to change eating habits. Three main areas are:
1. How you eat
2. What you eat
3. How you prepare food

How You Eat
  • Have a regular pattern of meals.  Stick to a schedule - this will help from getting too hungry and losing control. Try to set colorie goals for each meal. If you can plan your food for the day, you will be less likely to indulge and go crazy.
  • Eat slowly.  This helps to better digest food and give your body time to feel full. You will also be more aware of what you are eating and when you feel full.
  • Don't worry about cleaning your plate. (Do any of us worry about this?? Not me, I am usually more worried about seeing an empty plate and still feeling hungry! :) ) Serve yourself smaller portions. When eating, stop periodically, put your fork down and do a hunger test. If you do not feel hungry, push the plate aside.
  • Veggies first. Fill up on all the veggies first, then eat the food on the rest of the plate.
  • Smaller plate. Use a smaller plate than you normally would. This will help to decrease portions AND fool your body into thinking you have just as much as you did with the large plate. Weird, I know, but this DOES work.

What You Eat

  • Everything in Moderation! Eat high fat/high calorie foods less often.
Less of this... 

  • Eat smaller portions of the high fat/high calorie foods.
  • Eat LARGER portions of low fat/low calorie foods.
More of this...
  • Try substituting lower calorie options when possible  - use low fat margarine, mayonnaise, cheeses, salad dressing, etc. WARNING - 'low fat' options still have calories and often have MORE sugar than the 'regular' option. READ THE LABELS.
  • Instead of flavoring foods with fat - try spices or other low fat options.
  • Lower the fat content in the meat you eat. Buy lean cuts. Trim visible fat. Broil, roast, bake, grill - no frying. Remove skin from chicken and turkey. Choose a white meat. Drain off fat after cooking. Eat more FISH!

How You Prepare Food
  • Avoid Frying food.
  • Use vegetable spray instead of oil.
  • Use 2 egg whites instead of a whole egg.
  • Again - use more spices and less fat
  • When baking, incorporate more whole grains. You can substitute up to half the regular flour in MOST baked goods without significant changes in flavor and texture. You can certainly use entire whole grains - BUT you are warned, you and your family WILL know the difference. I like to use a combination of whole wheat flour, oatmeal, and wheat germ. There are many other options, I just have never tried them.
  • You can 'hide' pureed veggies into several meals as well.
  • Substitute for fats. There are many options for removing fats from foods by substituting low fat yogurt, low fat sour cream, unsweetened applesauce, flax seed, etc. I like to substitute SOME of the fat. Again, you can substitute all of the fat, but the texture will suffer. I don't have a ratio here to stick to, but you can experiment a bit. Non-fat options tend to make the texture rubbery.

There are several blogs out there with healthy recipes. Just be careful - everyone's definition of healthy is different. Make sure to check the nutrition content. Calories, fat, carbs, fiber, sugar. It all counts. You just have to find the right balance. If you have a favorite site for recipes - please share.

Happy Eating!

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