As we get ready for the season of less clothing, loosing a few pounds is a great option for many of us. So here is some “food for thought” keeping in mind it can be the little things you change that WILL make a difference!
For starters, stop thinking about dieting. Instead, take a look at those everyday habits that could be causing weight gain. Going on a diet can create an obsession with food, heighten cravings, and lead to a “throw-in-the-towel-because-diets-don’t-work” mentality.
You might not realize just how quickly calories can add up. An extra tablespoon of salad dressing can add 75-100 calories, an extra tablespoon of butter adds 102 calories, and that 1-ounce bag of chips with your sandwich at lunch adds 162 calories. Eating while cooking, starting each day with a high-calorie coffee drink, finishing off the kids’ plates at dinner, or having one too many glasses of wine …these habits slowly but surely ruin the best of intentions.
With that in mind, here are the top tips for success:
Diet Mistake No. 1: Being in a Hurry
There’s no reward for finishing your meal in record time — unless you’re a contestant in a hot dog eating contest! Our hectic schedules have led many of us to adopt the unhealthy habit of rapid eating.
We need to adopt more of the leisurely, European-style eating so that we can savor our food, taste every bite, and get the signal of fullness before overeating.
Diet Mistake No. 2: Skipping Meals
Research shows that breakfast skippers weigh more than breakfast eaters. There is a misconception that skipping breakfast — or any meal — saves calories. The truth is that most people who eat fewer than three meals usually end up eating more calories during the course of the day.
Try to get three meals a day , including a good breakfast but remember even a low-fat muffin can have as many as 400 calories and 5 grams fat. So what is a good brekkie? It should contain both protein and fiber. An egg, a piece of whole-wheat toast, and half a grapefruit has only 250 calories and will keep you feeling full until lunch.
Diet Mistake No. 3: Too Many Liquids
Liquid calories from alcohol, smoothies, coffee with cream and sugar, sweetened juices, teas, and sodas can really contribute to weight gain. One recent study found that Americans get approximately 21% of their calories from beverages.
Switch from calorie-laden beverages to water, club soda, skim milk, vegetable juices, and small portions of 100% fruit juice. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation, and choose lighter drink options.
Here are some calorie counts for common beverages:
- 12-ounce light beer: 110 calories
- 12-ounce regular beer: 160 calories
- 8-ounce coffee with cream and sugar: 30 calories
- 5 ounces of wine: 120-130 calories
- 6-ounce wine spritzer: 80 calories
- 16-ounce sweetened tea: 160 calories
- 12-ounce diet soda: 0 calories
- 12-ounce soda: 150 calories
- 20-ounce smoothie: 410 calories
Diet Mistake No. 4: BIG Portions
“We have gotten used to huge portions at restaurants so when we are at home, we serve up the same size and think it is normal.
Experts suggest a few tricks to help you trim your portions:
- Leave a few bites on your plate.
- Use smaller plates and bowls.
- Periodically check your portions with measuring cups.
Diet Mistake No. 5: Bad Add-Ons
Not only have portions crept up in size, we also have a tendency to top off our “diet” salads and other favorite foods with high-fat toppings, like bacon, cheese, croutons, and creamy dressings. These items are SO IMPORTANT as even your humble salad is a killer if topped with bacon bits, croutons and creamy dressings.
Diet Mistake No. 6: Not Thinking While You Munch
Eating amnesia is the act of unknowingly putting hand to mouth, usually from a bag or box in front of the television, while reading a book. It can also happen at happy hour, or when you finish the last few bites on your child’s plate.
Consider the calories in small portions of some of our favorite snacks, and see how quickly they can add up when portions are multiplied:
- 1 Twinkie: 150 calories
- 12 peanut M&Ms: 125 calories
- 1 ounce of French fries: 88 calories
- 1.5 donut holes: 100 calories
- 3 Hershey kisses: 75 calories
- 3 Oreo cookies:160 calories
- 15 tortilla chips: 142 calories
- 20 potato chips: 162 calories
And how can you kick the mindless eating habit?
Try to get in the habit of relaxing without food. If you do eat try to have portion size packets available to control amounts. Or hey, how about a nice cup of tea?
BOTTOM LINE: Easier said than done, but by switching a few habits around you should be enjoying a much lighter diet without too much sacrifice!
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