Each year, “lose weight” ranks as the most popular New Year’s resolution. And it also comes out on top of the most commonly broken resolutions. Why? People get focused on losing a certain number of pounds per week, which is a set-up for failure. Real life very often interferes day-by-day with good intentions. Consequently, they give up. A more realistic, and attainable, approach is to make positive actions the goals, rather than one grand resolution. Here are 7 to take that will help you lose weight in 2016.
Don’t eat and lose weight, right? Wrong. There’s a whole lot of research indicating that eating healthful, low calorie (but high quality) meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout the day promotes weight loss. Develop a regular eating schedule of 3 meals, and 2 or 3 snacks per day. This pattern is designed to help regulate blood sugar and pressure, curb cravings, and provide strength and endurance for physical activities.
These are the low calorie, high quality foods that comprise quality calories. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, lots of water, and very little bad fats. And very little sugar, of course. Because they’re full of water and contain lots of volume, they fill you up and satisfy.
Make the switch to lean cuts of meat and poultry. And unless you’re allergic, nuts and seeds are must-haves in your diet. A Harvard research study found that they’re one of the top foods linked to weight loss. A good bet? Pistachios. One of the lowest calorie nuts, they’re also chockfull of healthy fats and fiber, in addition to protein.
Want to start losing weight immediately? Rid your kitchen of the white stuff – white flour, pasta and rice. Refined carbohydrates like these are nearly empty calories and overconsumption can cause weight gain and even metabolic disorders. Instead, choose whole grains. Unlike refined grains (the white stuff), whole grains deliver powerful nutrients and antioxidants that bolster immunity, help prevent cancer and heart disease, and slow aging. Good selections include: barley, oats, brown rice, polenta, and my favorite, quinoa.
As we say on the “The Biggest Loser,” if you fail to plan you plan to fail. Plan everything – your meals, your snacks and your exercise. Otherwise, you could fall into the bad habit of grabbing meals on the fly (very often unhealthy fast food) or skipping a meal altogether. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s critical to switch from mindless to mindful eating.
One of the common behaviors of all “The Biggest Loser” contestants I’ve counseled over the years is that they consumed a large portion (if not all!) of their daily calories by drinking beverages – sugary soda, juice, cream-laden coffee and alcohol. Stop – with the exception of milk.
Another thing TBL contestants all had in common is prioritizing everyone (spouse, kids, friends) and everything (job, school, home) over themselves and their own health and wellbeing. By the time they arrive at the Ranch, they know they must put themselves first because their lives literally depend on that commitment. The same goes for the rest of us. Remember: if you don't have your health, you can't take care of your loved ones.
Thinking about how to be healthier in the year ahead is a good start. Make one or more of these action steps your resolution. Eat more vegetables. Don’t skip meals. No more white stuff. Combined with regular exercise, you’ll be on your way to losing weight and feeling better.
Have a happy and healthy New Year!
If your diet’s been derailed by a sudden desire for chips or a hankering for a hamburger, you’re not alone. According to Cheryl Forberg, RD, nutritionist for The Biggest Loser and author of A Small Guide to Losing Big, cravings are one of the biggest diet downfalls, and affect all of us. Studies by Tufts University and the Monell Chemical Senses Centre found that nearly everybody experiences food cravings.
“Several different things can trigger food cravings,” Forberg explained. “Sometimes our bodies are in need of a particular nutrient. Sometimes it’s hormonal. But most of the time it’s emotional. A lot of us are emotional eaters and often – if we’re feeling bored, anxious or lonely – we reach for food when we’re not even hungry for satisfaction.
How do we curb the cravings? Forberg recommends some cupboard “spring cleaning.” She says, “If the kitchen is full of unhealthy options when a craving strikes, we reach for what’s immediately available. Swap out the bad for the good. When only healthy alternatives are on hand, we naturally make better choices.”
Salty/Crunchy. Toss the crisps and replace them with pistachios. One serving of pistachios – a whopping 49 nuts – has 150 calories so they totally satisfy that crunchy/salty craving, plus they’re really filling. While they satisfy that craving for salt, they actually only have 120 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is less than 1⁄2 cup of cottage cheese, a cup of chicken noodle soup, or 1⁄2 cup of canned green beans.
Sweet. Lots of us have a sweet tooth. Keep loads of fruit on hand. Focus on the sweetness of a berry, rather than reaching for a biscuit, and you’ll benefit from the vitamins and nutrients as well.
Chocolate. Swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate (70 percent and greater cacao), as it is a source of flavanols and antioxidants for disease prevention and heart health. And stick to serving size suggestions. Or try a low-in-fat-and-sugar chocolate milk, which provides a nutritional boost in the form of calcium and vitamin D.
Carbs. Substitute a leaf of romaine for a slice of bread and try a lettuce wrap instead of a sandwich. Craving pizza (who doesn’t)? Flip the head of a Portobello mushroom over, top with a dollop of marinara sauce, some Italian sausage and grated mozzarella cheese, stick in the oven for 8-10 minutes and presto! Portobello Pizza, with less than 100 calories.
Dairy. Sometimes those cravings translate into textures. If you have a hankering for something creamy, skip the ice cream and reach for slices of avocado or bananas instead.
Coffee or soft drink. Believe it or not, many people who are overweight drink their daily calorie allotment. Swap that sugary fizzy drink or cream-filled coffee for a glass of sparkling water and cranberry juice with a lime.
According to Forberg, once you make a switch, you’re on the road to mindful eating versus mindless snacking, which can make all the difference when it comes to tackling cravings.
But what she says about snacking may come as a surprise. Forberg believes snacking is an important tool for curbing cravings and preventing overeating at mealtimes. In fact, two or three small snacks a day can help tide you over in between meals and keep your energy up. But it’s the kind of snack and how much you eat that can have the biggest impact.
That's where pistachios come in.
Forberg says, "With their lower fat content, most of which is the healthy fat our bodies need — plus fibre, protein and phytonutrients — pistachios help keep hunger at bay while adding positively to your nutritional intake."
Known as the "skinniest" nut, a one-ounce serving of pistachios weighs in at just 160 calories. Perfect for before or after exercising, at work or at the movies, this grab-and-go snack packs a salty-sweet, satisfying punch without derailing your diet.
And don't forget those shells. Studies show that the act of opening pistachios can slow down how fast you eat them, and visually seeing those empty shells can help you avoid overeating. "It's called the Pistachio Principle," says Forberg. "Removing the shell takes time and effort. Snackers can't gobble pistachios mindlessly by the handful."
"I'm assuming you had breakfast, but many people make the mistake of having all carbs in the morning (cereal, juice, fruit, toast and/or muffin). It's really important to have the right mix of carbs, lean protein and good fat to fill up and keep your blood sugar on track. An egg and turkey bacon breakfast sandwich on a whole grain bun with milk and fruit makes a great breakfast. Whole grain cereal topped with berries, Greek yogurt and chopped pistachios would be a perfect start, too."
"A healthy snack at night can be okay, as long as you're making good choices and not eating too close to bedtime (two hours before). Most overeating is done at home, and often when we’re alone. If you have a habit of going overboard or binging at night, ask yourself if you're really hungry. It's easy to mindlessly numb ourselves with food when we’re trying not to think of the stressors of the day. If you are really hungry, it’s okay to have a night time snack. Just remember that if you keep only healthy choices in your house, you can't make a bad decision."
"Believe it or not, snacking can promote weight loss. Small snacks (two or three per day) help tide us over in between meals and keep our energy up. If we wait too long in between meals, we tend to eat too much, too fast and choose the wrong things. The good news is that this is a very easy change to make and doesn't require extra cooking! Just grab a handful of pistachios or an apple and a low fat cheese stick and you’ll be good to go."
"Nervous eater? Many of us are "grazers" and love to nibble all day long. Often, we're not even aware we’re doing it and most of the time, we're not even hungry. One way to pay attention is to start a food diary; record every bite and every sip throughout the day. You will learn very quickly how many excess calories you are taking in when you aren’t focused."
Filled with super-satisfying, nutrient-rich benefits like fibre, protein and good-for-you fats, pistachios can help you conquer your cravings without derailing your weight loss goals.