Fruits, vegetables, and salmon on a table

Keeping Your Diet on Track

Keeping your “diet” on track! Do you feel that you are on the “diet” yo-yo? You lose a few pounds, and then put them back on plus a few more. You “diet” and “diet” and think that you are being good but if you forget some of the small things that may just be the cause of keeping those extra pounds on. First, let’s forget about the word diet. Make it a commitment to your lifestyle for overall better health. Start by keeping a diary or log of all the foods you eat. Good, bad or indifferent. Start by keeping the diary for a week or two, this will help you to understand what you are really eating instead of what you think you are eating. Then continue to track your eating habits. As you improve your habits the easier it will become to recognize when you are eating right and when you stray off course. A few key things to think about: Breakfast can often times throw off our whole day. Keep breakfast to approximately 300 calories. Avoid sugary drinks and breakfast cereals, doughnuts, cakes, etc. Stick with a healthy protein and a complex carb such as a piece of fruit or oatmeal. This will help to curb your mid-morning hunger pains. Look for healthy fats throughout the day. Unsaturated is the way to go. These include: olives, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds just to name a few. Look for packaged products to have 140mg or less of sodium per serving. Approximately 2300mg per day which is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon.

Did you forget to count the liquid calories?

It’s easy to forget that the things we drink have calories. In fact, some beverages have more calories than an entire plate of food. On average, 20% of our daily calories come from what we drink. So as you drink your juice with breakfast, have that sports drink at the Y, or drink a glass of soda at dinner, think and journal about the calories you’re adding. Don’t forget to hydrate your body with plenty of water throughout the day, which has zero calories.

Did you skip a meal?

Thinking of skipping a meal to save a calorie or two? Think again, skipping meals can actually have an opposite effect by slowing down your metabolism, causing uneven blood sugar levels, and increasing cravings. Try eating at fairly regularly scheduled times so your body can burn those fats and calories. When your body knows it’s going to eat regularly, it keeps working and doesn’t store those calories for “an emergency” (better known as starvation mode).

Did you check your portion size?

3-6 ounces of protein should suffice as a general rule for average sized adults, but may need to adjust based on size. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal. Keep salad dressings to a minimum, 1 tablespoon should do the trick and give it a good toss. You will be surprised how well it coats your salad. Add in whole grains and now you are looking at a well-balanced plate. Since we eat with our eyes, if our plate looks empty we tend to pile on the food. So here’s a simple trick: plate your food up on a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. You can always go back for seconds. Chances are pretty good you won’t need to! And by all means, take your time when eating. It’s not a race to see who can finish first and you will be able to feel when you’re full.

Did you eliminate your treats?

Remember it’s OK to treat yourself every once in a while. If you stick to with 90/10 rule you will be fine. Remember not to punish yourself or call the diet “off” because you had a bad day.  It’s not the end of the world. The last thing you want to do is eliminate all the foods you enjoy. Eliminating makes diets difficult and often times painful. Taking away sweets, chips and other snacks totally can cause cravings. Then, the first thing we do when we get the chance is eat those things when no one is looking, or the day we finish our “diet” we go on a binge. The fact is that we can and should live on a healthy lifestyle all the time, enjoy the foods we eat and never feel guilty if we indulge once in a while. Adding in foods that are naturally sweet and salty will also help your cravings. The goal! Eat! Yes, eat and eat 3 healthy meals per day. Make sure they are packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.  Include fruits and veggies at every meal.  A plate with different colored fruits and vegetables means you are getting all that good nutrition your body needs. If you feel hungry in between meals, snack on things like nuts, seeds, rice cakes, carrot, celery or even a piece of whole grain toast with some peanut butter. Enjoy life and I urge you not to think of it as a “diet”, but rather as part of a healthful lifestyle! Have questions? Visit the YMCA virtual chef page or view our healthy eating recipes.