Dieting Do's and Don'ts
Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer
At the start of each New Year, we provide advice and inspiration for those resolving to shed a few pounds. This year, we're revealing our favorite list of dieting do's and don'ts:
Don't... skimp on protein at breakfast.
About 20 grams of protein eaten at breakfast helps control your appetite throughout the entire day. Build your breakfast meal around healthy protein sources, such as eggs (for example, two free-range eggs with whole grain toast and a side of fruit), organic yogurt (it can be added to a smoothie, or enjoy a parfait topped with granola and fresh fruit), nut butter (on whole grain toast or in oatmeal), avocado, or last night's chicken.
Don't... count calories. Instead, count fiber.
Calorie counting may help to control your food intake and portion sizes but it doesn't account for food quality and can lead your blood sugar astray if the calories are imbalanced (for example, too many carbs or too much protein). Fiber, on the other hand, fills you up quickly, reducing the amount of food taken in. Because it takes more time to digest, a fiber-rich meal than it does to digest a meal low in fiber, you feel satiated longer. To boot, fiber helps to balance your blood sugar, and soluble fibers (such as those found in beans, fruit, vegetables, and oatmeal) can reduce cholesterol levels. Most health experts, including the
Do... eat your biggest meal at lunch.
Our lifestyle dictates that we eat a small lunch and large dinner. The more you eat at lunch, however, the less hungry you'll feel by suppertime and the greater the likelihood that you'll eat smaller portions. Also, eating a large meal a few hours before going to bed means those calories are stored (as fat) rather than burned off. Prepare a big dinner, place a small portion on your plate, and pack up the rest for tomorrow's lunch. Think of all the money and calories you'll save by bringing your own lunch to work rather than eating out.
Do... sweat. Exercise is imperative.
No time to exercise? Interval training is the answer. Short, intense spurts of activity burn more calories and fat than longer periods of more moderate activity. The best part is, due to the intensity of the workout, you can drastically reduce your exercise time. So much for that excuse.
Do... Read a restaurant's nutritional information.
Would you have guessed that the Olive Garden's Spaghetti and Italian Sausage dish has 1,270 calories, 67 grams of fat, and 3,090 mg of sodium? At only 500 calories and 12 grams of fat, Applebee's Weight Watchers Chipotle Lime Chicken may have fewer calories compared with other meals on their menu, but we bet you didn't bargain for the 5,250 mg -- about three day's worth -- of sodium.
Restaurants now make their nutritional information available to consumers. Before heading out for lunch or dinner, look up the menu on line, review the nutritional information carefully, and choose the best options ahead of time (before you're sitting at the table with a growling belly). Another tip: Rather than eating the entire meal at one sitting, ask the server to package half of your food in a doggie bag before it comes to the table.
Don't... ignore portion sizes.
Size matters. If the holidays have left you feeling and looking less svelte than you'd like, be mindful of how much is on your plate. Your meals may be of excellent quality, but there is such a thing as 'too much of a good thing.' How much is too much?
Meat: A serving of meat, poultry or fish should be the size of your palm. That's about 3oz. If you still aren't sure, measure the portion against a deck of cards.
Grains and starches (bread, cereal, pasta, rice, potatoes, millet, quinoa, couscous, buckwheat and other grains): A serving is one cup of pasta, rice, cereal or other grain, or two slices of bread -- all whole grain, of course. Measure dried cereal in a measuring cup before placing it into your bowl. It's surprising how 'small' a portion appears!
Fruit: Eat up to three whole pieces of fruit a day, half a cup of cooked or stewed fruit, such as applesauce, and no more than a quarter cup of dried fruit a day.
Vegetables: Raw vegetables are generally considered 'free' foods to be eaten liberally. The same applies to cooked vegetables; however, keep in mind two things: they're condensed by cooking, so one cup of raw is roughly equivalent to half a cup of cooked; secondly, watch the calories and fat from oils or sauces (or both) used to prepare the vegetables.
Fats: A tablespoon of oil, fat, or butter provides 11 to 14 grams of fat and about 100 calories. Measure the amount of oil poured into a pan for cooking. Better yet, fill an oil spray canister with oil, and skip the butter on your toast entirely.
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