Wednesday, May 26

A Balanced Day

On a daily basis, the most important nutritional change you could make is balance. Most of us, even if we’re eating the correct range of calories are not getting very nutritionally balanced calories. We get significantly more fat calories or carbohydrate calories than protein calories, which throws our bodies out of whack. Our blood sugar spikes and drops, we feel energized then sluggish, we’re hungry all morning and then eat too much at lunch.

For the most part, our diets should consist of about 30% of our calories coming from protein, 45% from carbohydrates, and 25% from fat.

For a weight loss diet, simply lower the carbohydrates (while increasing physical activity and decreasing overall calorie intake) to more of a balance: about a third of your calories coming each from protein, carbohydrates and fat. The greater protein helps get your body balanced quickly, and keeps you from being hungry.

What does a balanced day look like?

Breakfast – Make sure to get a small amount of protein (15-25 grams), healthy carbohydrates like fruit or whole grain bread, and no less than 10 grams of heart healthy fats. Getting enough fat in the morning is crucial to conquering hunger until lunch.

Lunch – A good amount of protein (40-60 grams) and balanced carbohydrates including plenty of veggies.

Snack – The most important part of a snack is a small amount of protein (15-25 grams). Try not to let carbohydrates greatly outnumber your protein (keeping to about 20-30 grams).

Dinner – A good amount of protein (40-60 grams), balanced carbohydrates, and 3 or more servings of non-starchy vegetables.

I tend to want an afternoon snack and an evening snack, but you may find you are hungrier at the beginning of the day. As your body gets back into balance, you can trust it more when it tells you you’re hungry. A balanced diet keeps you from yo-yoing between hunger and satisfaction.

Thursday, May 20

The Dirty Dozen

I was speaking with my dietician today, and she informed me there is an updated 2010 Dirty Dozen list out now. And you think, “That wasn’t a very good movie the first time around. Why would they remake it?”

I’m talking about the Dirty Dozen in your produce section. These are the top worst foods which deliver pesticides into our bodies. As you roll your eyes and think to yourself, “I always wash or peel my veggies and fruit,” I interject with the fact that the pesticides measured in the Dirty Dozen are measured after the produce has been washed, rinsed or peeled (depending upon how the food is commonly eaten). This means the Environmental Working Group measures the pesticides in a peeled banana, or rinsed lettuce or a washed apple.

Get it now? You’re still getting pesticides in your body despite your current efforts. The Dirty Dozen are just the fruits and veggies that deliver the biggest doses.

Click here to print out a handy dandy wallet-sized version.

Now, if you’ve been reading my posts at all, you know I’m not “all aboard” the Organic Train. I think a lot of people spend ridiculous amounts of money on organic foods that are no better or worse than their conventional counterparts. However, in the case of the Dirty Dozen, money well spent, people. There are some pretty nasty chemicals found in pesticides. Even if you’re willing to put them in your own body, are you willing to put them in your kids?

Tuesday, May 18

Birthday Attack!

In February, I began thinking about what I would like to do for my birthday (I like lots of time to plan). I thought to myself, “The one thing I would love to do is my Body Attack class. And wouldn’t it be fun if all my friends were there!” I started working with Gold’s Gym and they very generously agreed to work with me. They offered a special time for the class on Saturday and I got to invite all of my friends!

Saturday was the big day and it was fantastic! Gold’s went above and beyond of what I had expected or asked! My favorite teachers did all the planning (pic to the right: Ryan, Jenna and Vicki), and they made my 29th birthday the best one I’ve had yet. And all my friends—who were very suspicious that I was making them exercise on my birthday—had fun and burnt some calories too!

Body Attack + My Birthday = Birthday Attack!

Then we were back at the house for some BBQ! It was the most guilt-free BBQ my friends will be at all year. We had burgers and chicken sausages, fresh veggies, soy crisps (for something a little munchy) and fruit salad. Of course there were cupcakes, but you didn’t have to feel guilty about having one since we had just burnt between 500-800 calories at class.

Best birthday ever!

Man, how am I going to have my 30th top this?

Thursday, May 13

Health Halo

You’re standing in line at the coffee shop and your will is iron! You’re looking that pastry case up and down, but you’re resolute that you’re just getting coffee and no sweets. After all, they’re all high-calorie and filled full of fat—the choice is easy, right? But then you see it: low-fat coffee cake. Suddenly, you’re not so resolved. It’s low-fat after all!

We tend to let our guard down when we see these kinds of labels, don’t we? If high-fat is the same as high-calories, then shouldn’t low-fat mean low-calorie? I’m guessing we’re already on the same train of thought, and I don’t even need to answer that for you.

Research has found that we tend to eat more of a food that we think is low-fat than of foods regularly labeled. This article is fantastic, you should check it out. Researchers basically found that everyone ate more calories overall of low-fat labeled foods because we think that low-fat is the same as low-calorie. They call it the “health halo”: its an illusion that because of one label the entire food must be healthy (whether it’s a low-fat label, organic, high-fiber, etc).

In reality, most low-fat foods are only about 15 percent less calories than their regular counterparts. That means that a low-fat muffin might only have 30 calories less than a 200 calorie regular muffin. 30 calories, that’s it! Saving 30 calories isn’t going to make much of a dent in your weight loss. Especially when you consider you’d be more like to only eat half a regular muffin (100 calories), but because the low-fat muffin makes you feel better you let yourself eat the whole thing (170 calories).

What do we do with this, then? Don’t let labels be the deciding factor in what you eat and how much. Ignore the label and check the nutritional information.

Or, even better, skip the coffee and eat a cheese stick and a handful of carrots.

Wednesday, May 12

Conquer Your Cravings

We all have cravings—those foods you find you just absolutely need to have. I used to give in to every craving I ever had with an excuse about rewarding myself. But how do we overcome these cravings?

Most cravings are a very short term desire. There are different strategies we can use to help outlast a craving, and usually they simply go away. Use the 5 D’s to help:

Delay giving in to any craving for at least 10 minutes. When you force yourself to wait, you know you’re not giving in impulsively. There are times when giving into a craving is perfectly fine! But make sure you’re not giving in on impulse. Give yourself time to think and evaluate why your craving something and how you are going to either give in or not give in.

Distract yourself. Take your mind off of whatever you’re craving. Go check your email, work on your scrapbook, call your friend, clean your bathroom. Give your brain something to concentrate on other than your craving.

Distance yourself from the food you are craving, and I mean physically move yourself away from the food’s location. If you’re standing in line at the grocery store craving a Hershey bar, get out of that line. Go check out at the customer service counter where there is no candy display, or at one of the self check-out lines. If you’re at home, go for a walk or bike ride. If you’re at a party, go to the other side of the room—for heaven’s sake, why were you standing next to the buffet in the first place?

Determine how important it is for you to eat the food you crave. Often, we’re not truly craving a food but the reaction from our bodies to a certain food. If you’re craving a soda, you might just be looking for an afternoon pick-me-up. Have a cup of black coffee instead—you still get the caffeine, but for only 5 calories. I often determine that a craving right now isn’t as important as something I have planned for later. I’m not going to give in to that doughnut in the office kitchen today, because I’m planning on having a GIANT piece of cake at my birthday party this weekend.

Decide what would be the smartest way to give into your craving, and accept your decision. If we’re truthful with ourselves, there’s no way we could deny every craving we ever have. Take a moment to decide how you will give into your craving. If I’m craving a chocolate bar, I might decide instead to have one of my chocolate Zone bars. The Zone bar has protein and less sugar than just the straight chocolate bar. The Zone bar is still about the same calories, but it’s a smarter way to give in that won’t leave me in a bad spot after my decision (looking for more sugar when my metabolism crashes). But even if I give in and eat the chocolate bar, I need to accept that I made the decision. That means not beating myself up over the decision I made and jumping right back to eating smart and healthy.

How do you overcome your cravings? Do you have any moments where you gave into a craving but in a very smart way?

Friday, May 7

Portion Distortion

Today’s post is a short one, but I’m letting the activity do all the talking for me. When you have a minute to take a short quiz, click the link below. I promise you’ll be shocked at how out of control our portions are. And at how long it will take you to get rid of those extra calories.

Take the Portion Distortion Quiz!

Tuesday, May 4

Balanced Snacks

Let’s take some of what we’ve learned so far and apply it to how we snack! We know that we want to have balanced snacks, but what does that look like exactly?

A snack is ideally 150-200 calories. You want to get somewhere between 7 and 15 grams of protein, but with less than 20 grams of carbohydrates. Remember, these are just guidelines to help you make good choices—but the above numbers work the best to give you a balanced snack that will keep you from being hungry again right away.

Now, how about a few ideas:

· 2 ounces of turkey jerky + a 1/2 cup of strawberries

· 2 Babybel Light Mini Cheeses + 6 ounces of baby carrots

· a serving of greek yogurt

· 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese + 1/2 cup cubed tomatoes

· a small apple + 1 Tbsp peanut butter

· 2 Tbsp hummus + 1 cup cucumber

It’s up to you to check out the nutritional information and balance your snacks in ways that work best for you.

For me, I find that a little bit of a higher calorie snack in the afternoon works well to keep me going until a late dinner. My favorite snack is a giant English cucumber (usually about 12 ounces, 5 servings of veggies in my day right there) and a Zone bar. My aunt introduced me to the Zone bars during my visit home and now I love them! They have the most protein I’ve seen in a bar yet, and low on carbs and fat. The only downside is that the fat is mostly saturated fat (not something I need to particularly avoid, but just be aware not to get too much of).

What are your favorite balanced snacks? I’m always looking for ideas!

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