Grabbing a smaller plate or bowl may seem like a small change, but it can make a big difference in how much food you serve yourself. Research shows that larger bowls can cause us to take as much as 30 percent more food! Smaller plates require less food to fill and make portions appear larger, which leads to eating fewer calories without feeling deprived.
Put foods away.
Storing foods on the countertop in plain view can trigger cravings. Just seeing a bag of chips can make you hungry, and it is difficult to resist when they are within easy reach. If you have these foods in the house, keep them in a closed cabinet out of view to reduce mindless snacking.
Use measuring tools as serving utensils.
Scoop and serve your foods using a measuring cup with a handle. Portions of beans, soups, pasta sauces, and stews can easily be controlled by using these tools. Use measuring spoons for scooping out nut butters or adding condiments such as salad dressing. This small change will reveal exactly how much food you are eating.
Set your fork down between bites, chew slowly, and keep your focus on the food you are enjoying. Eating less quickly allows you to eat more mindfully, which helps you feel more satisfied. As a result, it will be easier to recognize when you feel full.
Stay at the table.
Distracted eating leads to overeating. Even if you are eating a healthy meal, doing so in front of a television screen causes you to lose sight of your body’s cues for hunger and fullness. Improving your relationship with food requires that you not only eat healthier, but that you remove distractions so that you can truly enjoy your food.
Cravings are part of a normal healthy lifestyle. When and how you indulge is what controls whether these cravings have a negative influence on your health. A box of cookies will still be around after you have had one or two to satisfy your craving. It’s better to enjoy a treat and remove the temptation than to deprive yourself and binge later. Buy a single cookie or donut at the bakery and single-serving bags of chips to reduce the chance that you will overdo it.
Reduce convenience foods.
When the foods you eat require some work, it slows you down and keeps you focused. Cook more often, and buy snacks that need to be shelled or peeled such as nuts, seeds, and fruits. Yes, it takes more time, but the investment will be worth reaching your fitness goals.
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Drinking plenty of water and calorie-free beverages can help you feel full and eat less.
Fat was once considered bad for health, but as research has evolved we now know that all types of fat are not equal. Fat is an essential component of a healthy diet. It plays a role in brain health, helps build cell membranes, and allows the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins. However, some fats can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Studies show that monounsaturated fat reduces bad cholesterol (LDL), which helps to lower the risk for heart disease and stroke. There is also evidence that these fats can help control blood sugar. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, sesame oil, avocados, and peanut butter.
Polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) have been found to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke. These fats are found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, tofu, and fatty fish like salmon and trout.
Health experts consider trans fat to be the worst type of dietary fat. Trans fats are byproducts of hydrogenation (turning a liquid fat into a solid) and are present in many processed foods. Trans fats increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower protective good cholesterol (HDL). As a result, the FDA has mandated that industrial trans fat be eliminated from foods by 2018.
A diet high in saturated fat can increase total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL), but some reports now question if the link between saturated fat and heart disease is as strong as once believed. As research continues, health experts remain cautious and recommend that saturated fat be limited to 10 percent of total daily calories. Saturated fat is found in red meat, whole dairy, coconut oil, and baked goods.
Don’t restrict your salads to only leafy greens. These healthy whole grains add a burst of flavor, texture, and nutrients to make boring salads more exciting.
Barley is a nutty, chewy grain that is delicious sprinkled over mixed greens. The dietary fiber in barley contains beta glucans, which may reduce blood cholesterol. Barley also contains niacin, which has been found to protect against cardiovascular disease. Choose hulled barley over pearled barley as it still contains some of the bran and endosperm of the grain. To cook, simmer 1 cup of dry hulled barley in about 3 ½ cups of water for 60 minutes, or until tender and chewy.
Bulgur is a cracked wheat that is often used in Middle Eastern tabbouleh salads of parsley, mint, and garlic. Bulgur is lower in calories and carbohydrates and has more fiber than many other grains, including quinoa. Because it is pre-cooked before it is sold, bulgur takes less time to prepare than most whole grains. Simmer 1 cup of bulgur in 2 ½ cups of water for about 10 minutes, or you can pour boiling water over the grains and let them sit for 1 hour to soften.
Kamut is a form of wheat with a chewy grain and a rich, buttery flavor. It makes delicious cold grain salads and can be stirred into vegetable salads like broccoli slaw. Kamut is higher in protein than other forms of wheat and provides vitamin E. Soak kamut overnight and drain. Simmer 1 cup of soaked kamut in 3 cups of water for 45 to 60 minutes.
Red rice is a whole grain from Bhutan with a nutty, earthy flavor. When cooked, it turns a pale pink color, and its flavor goes well with salads made of roasted mushrooms and peppers. Red rice is a gluten-free grain that contains potassium and magnesium. To prepare, bring 1 cup of the rice to a boil in 1 ½ cups of water. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
Wheat berries are whole wheat kernels that have a nutty flavor and a chewy texture similar to barley and kamut. They make a hearty topping for mixed green salads and work well as a base for cold grain salads. Both red and white wheat berries are whole grains that contain protein, fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. Rinse 1 cup of wheat berries well, and bring to a boil in 4 cups of water. Reduce heat and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes.
Before you throw away those food scraps, take a second look. Are they edible? You might be surprised to find that many of the stems, tops, and leftover pulps that you often discard can be reused in delicious and healthy ways.
When you buy carrots with the leafy green tops attached, don’t toss those greens in the trash. Carrot greens can be finely chopped and stirred into soups, salads, and stir-fries. Blend them into pesto or juice them with other fruits and vegetables. Little information is available about the exact nutrients in carrot greens, but they are likely to contain similar nutrients to the root portion of the carrot, such as vitamins A and K.
Most beets are sold with the greens still intact. Chop them and saute them in olive oil and garlic, add them to soups and stews, or add them to fillings in stuffed peppers or vegetable lasagna. They can also be baked until crispy like kale chips. Beet greens contain vitamins K and C, and the carotenoid lutein, which is associated with eye health.
When you’ve cut all the florets away, you can still put the core and stalk of vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower to good use. Shred them and use in slaws, stir-fries, or pasta salads. They can also be used to make homemade vegetable stock. Eating the whole vegetable will give you more vitamin K, vitamin C, and folate.
If you make juice fresh at home, you are left with pulp that still contains the fiber of the fruits and vegetables. Pulp from fruits like apples or pears can be stirred into yogurt or oatmeal. You can even use them as fillings for whole grain cinnamon rolls. Vegetable pulp from carrots can be used in stuffings for peppers and eggplants, as a layer in vegetable lasagna, or in meatloaf.
Making your own nut milks is easy, but you are left with the nut meal once you extract all of the liquid. This meal contains protein and fiber. Store it in the refrigerator and sprinkle it over yogurt parfaits or salads. Incorporate it into spreads like pesto or pasta sauce. You can also use it in healthy desserts like granola bars or whole grain cookies.
You know that packing a healthy lunch will help you stay on track, but chances are you struggle to find the time. Planning ahead and preparing healthy lunches doesn’t have to take hours. By getting organized and creating a routine, you can save time while always having a nutritious lunch that is ready to eat when you are.
Make big batches.
If you are already investing the time to cook, you might as well make enough food to get you through several meals. Many healthy recipes can easily be doubled or tripled to provide more servings for meals throughout the week. Homemade soups and salads are easy to pack for a light lunch. Extra roasted chicken can be used in sandwiches, wraps, and tacos. Leftover vegetables can be stirred into whole grain pasta or quinoa. Decide what big batches of foods you can prepare over the weekend, and make a plan for how you will use them in packed lunches throughout the week.
Portion when you put up leftovers.
When you have leftovers, don’t transfer them to one large container. Divide everything into smaller containers that you can quickly grab and add to your lunch bag. Avoiding the need to divide foods and dirty more dishes on a busy morning will save you valuable time.
Create a to-go cabinet in the kitchen.
Sealable containers, reusable baggies, and thermoses all make ideal containers for packing a lunch, but searching for a lost lid 5 minutes before you need to get out the door is frustrating and time consuming. Designate one place in your kitchen to keep all of your to-go containers and utensils. When you are ready to pack your lunch, everything will be right where you expect it to be.
Invest in divided containers.
Bento box style lunch boxes and divided trays allow you to use one container for the components of your healthy lunch. You can pack your sandwich, fruit and pretzels in one lunch box, or keep the toppings separate from your salad before you are ready to eat. You’ll need fewer containers for your lunches, and you will spend less time trying to find the right container for your foods. These lunch boxes can also help with portion control, and they allow for quick clean up.
Take advantage of storage at work.
If your workplace provides space for you to store foods during the week, take advantage of the time it will save you. Gather up staples like a bag of carrots, a carton of hummus, and cartons of yogurt, and take them with you on Monday. They’ll be ready to go when you need them, and you won’t have to spend time organizing and packing these foods at home each day.