Diet Tips

Diet Tips

Helping you reach your goals

The tips on this page are designed to help you with weight loss and diet issues. Judging from the number of dieting books, infomercials and programs out there, losing weight is a hot topic. It is my hope that these tips will help you achieve your goals in the area of maintaining a healthy weight.

Keep in mind that the tips found here are ones that I know for sure are useful, because I use them myself! I will be adding to this page as discoveries come my way.

Diet Tip #1: Serving sizes matter.

One “serving” of meat is about the size of a standard deck of playing cards. One cup of cooked vegetables or rice is about the size of a fist. A medium piece of whole fruit is a little bigger than a tennis ball. This is a way to visualize your portions, so you don’t kid yourself about how much you are eating!

Diet Tip #2: Conscious eating provides more satisfaction.

A famous country singer was asked how she had trimmed a few extra pounds and maintained her lovely figure. Her secret was that she stopped unconscious eating. This means that she paid attention to what she was eating, rather than just putting food in her mouth. Make your meals an occasion that commands all of your attention.

If possible, don’t do anything else while you are eating (except, of course to visit with the people with whom you may be sharing the meal), or you will be unaware of what and how much goes into your mouth. You will miss all of the great flavor and texture of your food. Make yourself an attractive plate of food so that you can see what you will eat. Then eat slowly, savor and enjoy. Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It deserves your undivided attention!

Diet Tip #3: Keeping track may keep you honest.

There have been a number of studies recently that suggest that chief among diet tips is to write down what you eat. It is recommended that you begin to chronicle your diet before you change it, so that you can get a handle on what your "normal" eating habits are that may have contributed to weight gain. Since you are the only one who will see your food diary, you can be honest with yourself and thus have a useful tool for success. Of course, healthy eating should be part of any diet plan.

Diet Tip #4: Are you nuts?

When most people think of "diet" foods, nuts are not on the top of the list. In fact, nuts are probably not on the list at all! However, there is evidence that eating nuts can actually help you to eat less! In addition, nuts are chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and flavor. They also contain a fair amount of fat, which is why they have a bad reputation. 

The secret is to include nuts in your diet, but to do so sparingly. The best way to eat nuts if you are concerned about weight, is to count out, say 10-15 pieces, and then eat them one at time, enjoying the rich flavor. You will find that if you eat nuts in this way, as a snack, you will not be as hungry when mealtime comes around. Of course, raw nuts such as almonds and walnuts are the best choice, but even roasted macadamias or cashews can have a place in your diet if you eat them sparingly.

Peanuts, although strictly speaking legumes and not nuts, and peanut butter can also have a place in a weight loss regimen. Nuts in the shell may also be a good choice, since they take more time to shell and eat, and therefore may be more satisfying in smaller amounts.

Diet Tip #5: Hydrate...Hydrate...Hydrate!  Water is probably one of the most important aspects of any weight loss program.

-First, your body requires water to breakdown fat. 

-Second, your body will conserve water if you don't drink enough, which will show up on your scale and discourage you.

-Third, a lack of sufficient water will slow down your metabolism and with it, your calorie-burning machine.

-Fourth, if you are hydrated you will feel better and have more energy.

-Fifth, when you think you are hungry, you may actually be thirsty, since the signal for hunger and thirst come from the same part of the brain. 

-And finally, water will help wash away all the by-products of losing weight and keep your system regular.

Need I say more?

Diet Tip #6: Low-fat foods aren't all they are cracked up to be!

Be aware that often when the fat content is reduced in products such as yogurt, ice cream and baked products, it may be replaced by sugar or chemicals that are not necessarily better for you than the fat. Generally it is the fat that contributes to the food's pleasing taste and texture.

Thus, it may be better to eat smaller amounts of the whole food, rather than a version that has been modified in an unhealthy way. Of course, this does not apply to products, such as milk, that merely have the fat removed, without replacing it with anything unhealthy.

Diet Tip #7: How big is your ice cream scoop?

The serving size established by the FDA for ice cream is ½ cup. You need to be aware that this amount and only this amount of ice cream (which is not much by most people’s standards!) will supply the calories, fat, etc. that are listed on the rest of the label.

Just once, take a half-cup measure and see what a serving really looks like in your bowl. Then you will know, for future reference, if you are eating more or less than the “serving size” listed on the label. You should only have to do this one time, and then you will be able to choose your portion wisely.

Diet Tip #8: Hunger or Appetite?

One of the potential problems with diet aids that claim to suppress "appetite" is that, while they may alleviate hunger, they do not actually affect appetite. It is possible to feel like eating without being physically hungry. There are many reasons that we eat that have nothing to do with hunger. We may eat because we're sad, lonely, angry, depressed, bored or even happy. This is usually referred to as "emotional eating." Sometimes we eat simply because the food looks or smells good. Eating for other reasons than hunger could contribute to weight gain.

Learning to know the difference between hunger and appetite can be a useful tool in weight loss. Try replacing emotional eating with other pleasurable activities, and save your eating for when hunger and appetite coincide.

Diet Tip #9: Liquid calories count, too.

When you consider the vast number of drinks available, including soda, energy drinks, coffee drinks, teas, enhanced waters, juices, shakes, beer, mixed cocktails and wine,it is not surprising that liquids contribute in a significant way to our total calorie intake. The problem is that we don't often consider the things we drink as part of our food intake. As a result, we may be sabotaging our efforts to lose weight by drinking extra calories--and quite often empty calories. 

In addition, when we drink beverages other than water, we are probably not drinking enough water to facilitate weight loss (see hydration tip above), so it is a double whammy! Try substituting water as often as possible for all those drinks listed above. It is possible to retrain your palate to appreciate a cold, refreshing glass of water over other types of drinks. There are also many delicious herbal teas that you can try, either iced or as a hot drink.

Caveat for Diet Tips: If you drink "diet" versions of soft drinks, be aware that there is significant evidence that you will actually gain weight, not to mention that you are drinking a concoction of chemicals, with side effects*, rather than a natural food.

*Possible side effects of drinking diet soda include, weight gain, negative effect on gut bacteria, increased risk of stroke and dementia.

Diet Tip #10: Stop eating by a certain time of the day.

Plan to close the kitchen after dinner and resist eating within two hours of bedtime. Give your body a chance to digest and regroup until breakfast.  You will sleep better, have less heartburn and indigestion and you don't need those extra calories to be stored as fat while you sleep. If you make it a habit to skip evening snacks, you will eventually find eating at night to be unappealing. 

You can sip herbal tea, such as chamomile or other soothing, non-caffeinated brews, if you need something to replace the late-night eating habit.

A corollary to Diet Tip #10 is to get a good night's sleep. Studies have shown that people who sleep at least 7-8 hours a night will lose more weight than those that sleep less. 

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