Sunday, March 2, 2008

How to Eat Better Everyday

I think we all get that we're supposed to move more and eat better.  We tend to be an all-or-nothing society, however, and most of us will decide to go on a diet and radically change what we're used to doing everyday.  And then we won't stick with it and we beat ourselves up and give up.  And then we do it all again when the next fad diet comes out.

However, a great way to get started on eating better is to just change a few things every day.  Let's not start off by drastically changing everything we know about Food.  Let's start with little things.  Here are some basic ideas for eating better everyday.  They've been gathered from books, magazines, FitMommas readers and general experience.  Please feel free to post more!

Follow the 80% rule.  Eat what you should 80% of the time, and use the 20% to enjoy what you're craving.  A piece of cake at a party.  A piece of chocolate after dinner.  A margarita.  A small cup of ice cream from Dairy Queen.

Don't deprive yourself.  Eat an alternative snack first.  If you still can't stand it, and need that chocolate or fried food or whatever your vice is, then eat it!  Eat it slowly, savor every bite.  Chalk it up to your 20%.  Then Move On.

Do NOT buy junk food.  If it's not in the house, you can't eat it!  Tell your hubby and kids to get over it.  I did it to my husband - no soda or chips in the house!  If you're going to someone's house and you don't know what crap food they may have out, bring your own snack.  It may or may not work, but at least you tried!

Keep LOTS of healthy options readily at hand.  If I had to prepare each snack, I wouldn't eat it.  It's easy to open a bag of chips - it's also easy to grab an apple, orange or banana.  So have those in the house at all times!  ALL TIMES!  And even in the winter, you can find fresh fruit at the grocery stores.
Other snack ideas:
  • A small bowl or Dixie cup full of dried or freeze dried fruit.
  • An apple with string cheese or tablespoon of natural peanut butter.
  • Mix lo-fat cottage cheese with berries (this is heavenly and will sometimes curb my craving for ice cream.)
  • Buy and eat l0-fat yogurt.  The benefits of yogurt are amazing.  You can buy Activia in bulk at Costco!
  • A handful of almonds or walnuts.
  • Lo-fat and lo-sugar granola bars.
  • Whole wheat crackers and lo-fat cheese
  • Any combo of healthy-for-you carb with lo-fat protein - the protein keeps you satisfied longer than carbs alone!
Make the bad stuff better.  Pick off the pepperoni and sausage and pat the grease off of the pizza.  Use lo-fat ingredients in traditional recipes.  Order a burger, but hold the cheese and mayo.  Rethink those "bad" foods and see if you can reinvent them.  And don't forget to tell us your new creations!

Pile on the Veggies.  Make your dinner plate 50% vegetables.  Fresh, frozen, canned - whatever works to get them on your plate.  A salad with a lo-fat dressing and some sunflower seeds works great too!  Do you prefer to douse them in butter?  Then.....

Give a few fake foods a try.  For the most part, I don't endorse "diet" foods.  I tend to think that the chemicals that make them lo-fat or lo-sugar are worse than just eating the fat or sugar!  But there are a handful of things I take advantage of, and one of those things is Spray Butter!  I'm a huge fan, use it on everything.  I LOVE butter, and a few spritz's of the zero calorie/zero fat fake butter does wonders for the veggies.  Sometimes I still use a pat of real butter, as to limit the fake food in my life.  Sometimes I'll do a little of each, when I really want a butter-overload flavor!

Embrace the glory of the No-Sugar-Added Fudgscicle.  Whomever invented these should get a Nobel Prize.  You can buy them anywhere, but I recommend the Aldi version.  Cheaper than dirt, always in stock and just as yummy.

Go grocery shopping at least once a week.  You can't have healthy, fresh food on hand if you only go shopping once in a blue moon.  Schedule it as an appointment the same day every week if you need to.  And be sure to have a nice, full belly when you go.  Everything seems like a need when you're starving!

Buy or Create Your Own snack packs.  You can eat your Oreos and lose weight, too!  OK, you can eat your Oreo crisps and pay a pretty penny, but still, the idea is good!  Either stock up on the store-bought packs at Costco or Sams.  Or, even better, Create Your Own!  Take some of your favorite snacks and some small, sealable sandwich bags.  Take a look at the nutritional panel to what their serving is, and then create your own snack packs.  The key here is not to eat 10 packs in one sitting!

Stay Out of the Drive Thru!  I know you're hungry and Mickey D's is right there.  But you know you can't resist the sweet smell of their sugar and salt covered fried potatoes!  If you're frequently in need of a quick fix on the road, keep some of those easy snacks in the car.  Weather will dictate what you can tote around, but in general, granola bars, your homemade snack packs, nuts - all good items on the go!  Just keep the string cheese at home in the middle of the summer!

Get your family and friends on board.  Even if they aren't going to participate, make sure those people you spend lots of time with and eat with know that you're making an effort to eat healthier.  Do Not tell them you're on a diet.  Very few people take the word "diet" very seriously.  Let them know that this is a lifestyle change, rather than a get-skinny-quick scheme, and they may be more willing to offer up healthier options.  And if they see how happy and not deprived you are, they may even join you!  But also don't be surprised if they don't!

Edited to add (Thanks JaLisa!):
Eat until you're not hungry anymore.  All we heard growing up was that children in China were starving, so clean your plate!  Somehow that made it better for the kids in China.  But what it actually taught us was to overeat.  Put less food on your plate, slow down and only eat until you're full.   Set aside at least half of your portion at a restaurant, even ask for the to-go box up front if you need to.  A serving size is about the size of your palm - makes you realize how huge that Red Robin burger really is!  


JaLisa said...

Love your posts! I agree.."DIET" stuff is just crap. If you look at "FAT FREE" or anything else that says "FREE" has double the carbs or sodium. Great example if PB. The Lower fat has double the sugars as the original. It is best to eat the real thing of anything, just watch your portions.

Amy said...

JaLisa - you actually touched on something I should have mentioned here, but am working on a larger post devoted to it - Portion Control!

Honestly, it's the key.