Tip #41 – The Skinny on Soups
When you’re looking for a quick way to get good nutrition, soups can be a great tool to help you stick to your diet. But not all soups are created equally. It’s a good idea to have a group of go-to recipes for soups that can help you stay satisfied and healthy.
What’s so great about soups?
- Soups can be made ahead of time and frozen for easy accessibility.
- They can contain hearty ingredients such as lean meats and beans for protein.
- You can get your servings of vegetables in by eating a serving of soup chock full of them.
- Soups can be low calorie and filling. When you have a big meal ahead of you, soup can be a great lunch.
While soups can be purchased in cans, canned soup can contain many extra preservatives and have high sodium content. It’s better to make your own soup and have more control of the ingredients in it. For the sake of convenience, it’s a good idea to make large batches of soup that can be portioned into smaller containers and frozen. Then all you have to do is grab a container and go. Soup can be heated quickly on the stovetop or the microwave.
Pair soup with a healthy salad and you have a great meal. If you don’t have a lot of recipes on your own, ask your friends to share their recipes. You can also do a quick online search and come up with thousands of soup recipes that can fit into your program. Focus on soups that contain lean meats, beans, or vegetables. These will be full of nutrition, but low in calories, fat, and other nutrients you’re trying to limit. Add plenty of fresh herbs and seasonings to keep them flavorful.
Soups are also inexpensive to make. Even when you add meat, you can limit the quantities to be more economical. Dried beans are inexpensive and can be soaked overnight for use in soups. You can make big batches for just pennies a serving. Stay away from soups that are cream based. These soups are higher in calories and fat. You’ll want your base to be stock – vegetable or chicken. You can make your own chicken stock by boiling chicken. Use the chicken for a recipe and then save the stock for soup. Stock can be frozen for later use. Make sure to keep plenty of soup portions on hand so that you can always have a safe option for any meal.
Tip #42 – Choose Lean Protein
An unhealthy diet usually contains lots of carbohydrates and not enough protein – especially lean protein. It’s important that you fill your diet full of lean protein. It has many benefits that will translate to more successful dieting.
- Protein is used by your body to perform almost every function.
- Protein can help you to feel satisfied.
- Protein will help to stabilize your blood sugar so you have fewer cravings.
- Protein helps you to build lean muscle and give you power for physical activity.
Many people get most of their protein from red meat. That includes steaks, ground beef, and roasts. For a large number of people the hamburger makes up most of their protein diet. In order to get enough protein and keep your heart healthy, you need to look at some different sources.
Some foods that are great protein sources include:
- Chicken, white meat
- Turkey, white meat
- Lean cuts of pork
- Lean cuts of beef – 93% fat free
- Milk protein
When you include at least one serving of lean protein in every meal, you’ll have enough protein for the day. You can also have protein between meals as a snack that can help you to feel satisfied and keep your blood sugar stable. By eating lean protein, you’ll have fewer cravings for quick energy providing carbohydrates. Protein takes more energy to break down and the energy from it will last longer.
Tip #43 – Avoid Labor Saving Devices
One of the great advantages of the industrial revolution is that it allowed people to get much more work done with less physical effort. Farmers no longer had to walk the fields all day; machines could help to get the work done. Fast-forward about 100 years and the industrial revolution has caused a few problems with the personal health of many. Instead of walking, lifting, pulling, and pushing we depend on machines to do most of the work.
But our bodies really were designed to work and to be physical. The problem with too much food and not enough work has led to the current obesity crisis that you hear about on the evening news. There are many machines that take the place of work that we use almost every day. Take a look at some of the devices that make like a bit easier, but not healthier:
- Remote controls
- Automatic doors
- Washing machines
- Electric/gas ovens
- Electric/gas lawn mowers
- Snow/leaf blowers
These devices can make life easier – and you don’t need to give all of them up. But you do need to take stock of how much work you get done on your own and how much you rely on devices. There are several things you can do to get your body moving and rely less on technology. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk a few blocks to the convenience store instead of driving. Try taking a bike when you only need to go short distances. You may even want to try using a push mower instead of one with a mower.
Tip #44 – Don’t Skip Dessert
It may seem counterintuitive to eat dessert when you’re on a diet. But the reality is you’re going to want to eat a few treats now and again. And if you don’t, you’ll be more likely to blow your diet. When faced with a piece of decadent chocolate cake, a piece of delicious pie, or the offer of a cheesecake to top off dinner you don’t have to say no every time. It’s important to be able to have foods you enjoy.
If you always skip dessert, you may end up feeling deprived and resentful about your lifestyle choices. So go ahead and eat dessert. But here are some things that can help you to keep from overdoing it.
- Split desserts with someone else at a restaurant. Most restaurant desserts can feed as many as 4 people.
- When you get a piece of cake or pie, take half of what you’d normally take.
- Skip the a la mode option for pies and cakes.
- When faced with a healthy dessert and one that you’d rather have, just have a smaller portion of your preference. If not you may end up eating the healthy dessert, feeling unsatisfied, and then eating the second one, too!
- Try adding a serving of fruit to dessert. You won’t need to each as much when filled with fruity fiber.
- Leave the leftovers at the restaurant. Instead of taking dessert home with you, eat a portion at the restaurant and leave it there. No need to add temptation to finish it off later.
- Eat slowly and enjoy. Decadent desserts should feel decadent. Allow yourself to slowly enjoy your favorite foods.
- Refuse to feel guilty about your dessert. Set yourself free.
Obviously a healthy diet can’t be 100% dessert. However, it can’t be 100% dessert free either. Enjoy the things you love so that you can continue to have success on your diet plan. If you don’t you could find yourself going on a dessert bender. Moderation can help you to enjoy your life and still enjoy the benefits of eating a healthy diet. Getting yourself the mindset that you have to feel deprived to be losing weight and dieting is a recipe for disaster.
Tip #45 – Eat Friendly Fats
For many years dieting meant eating little or no fat. However, recent research has shown that you really need to eat fat in order to be healthy. Some fats are particularly good for you when it comes to your heart. Instead of focusing on eliminating fat from your diet you should look at adding healthy fat sources to your food repertoire. You may be surprised to find out what fats are actually good for you:
- Nuts such as pecans, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios
- Flaxseed oil
- Linseed oil
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Safflower oil
How do these foods help you? Fat can do many things that are good for the body. Healthy fats actually help to lower cholesterol. They have molecules that actually can pick up the “bad” fat from the blood vessels and clear them from the body.
Fat can also help you to feel satisfied. Every gram of fat has 9 calories of energy. That is the highest of any macronutrient. That means that you’ll feel less hungry when you eat them. You’ll also use the fat to keep skin and hair healthy. Fat also helps to dissolve some of the micronutrients you need such as vitamins. If you don’t have enough fat in your diet, you actually can’t process some of the nutrients in other foods. Vitamins A, D, and Potassium are all fat soluble.
Flavor is also added when you use healthy fats to cook. Who wants to eat food that tastes terrible? Not too many people. Using healthy fats can help you to enjoy the variety of foods you eat and make your diet more of a lifestyle change. Make it a point to eat at least one small serving of healthy fat with each meal. It will help you to digest the food properly and satisfy your hunger.
Tip #46 – Add Appropriate Supplements
Even when you work very hard to eat healthy foods and balance your intake of nutrients, it can be difficult to get all the things you need. That’s where dietary supplements come in to help you get what’s lacking. Everyone should take a multivitamin each day. These are designed to help fill in the gaps of your nutrition. While you may be getting most of what you need, very few people actually get everything they need from the modern diet.
In addition, there are other supplements that can help you to stay on track. For example:
- Chromium picolinate – this nutrient helps to control blood sugar. You won’t have as many spikes in your levels so you won’t have as many cravings.
- Fish oil – fish oil has been shown to lower cholesterol and help you to improve mental health. It provides the omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs.
- Flaxseed oil – much like fish oil, this provides a good source of unsaturated fat. Flaxseed oil components can be used by every cell in the body.
- Green tea – has been shown to speed up metabolism and increase energy throughout the day. It also has antioxidants to help slow the aging process.
- Glucosamine chondroitin – helps to rebuild cartilage in the joints. This is particularly helpful if you suffer from arthritis and are trying to stay active.
- Fiber supplements – help you feel full and lower cholesterol
While there are good supplements on the market, there are also some you should avoid. You don’t want to use anything that can be harmful for you. Avoid:
- Diet supplements containing caffeine or ephedra (another name for caffeine)
- Products that claim to be a “magic bullet” for weight loss
Before taking any supplement, you should always check with your physician. While many supplements are natural, they do have potent effects. They can interfere with health conditions and medications. It’s important that you get the all clear from a healthcare practitioner before adding any nutritional supplement to your daily routine. You should also avoid taking too many supplements at once. Your diet should be made more of food than pills.
Tip #47 – Walk, Walk, Walk
One of the best ways you can control your weight is to increase activity. And while you can join a gym and hire a personal trainer, you don’t have to do those things to improve your physical fitness. Walking is one of the best exercises around. It has many benefits including:
- Appropriate for almost any fitness level
- Doesn’t require expensive equipment
- Can be done just about anywhere
- Doesn’t require you to learn a new skill
- Walking can be done with a group, but also independently
All you need to get started with a walking program is a comfortable pair of shoes and some comfortable clothing. You also need a safe place to walk. These things are pretty easy to come by and you probably already have them. If you’re looking for safe places try:
- Your local mall – many have early walker hours
- Local schools with tracks
- Local community center
- City park trails
- Walk around your office building
- Walk around the block
Weather can make it difficult to get out – especially cold temperatures. Make sure to stay safe and bundle up when walking on frigid days. You may also want to try hooking on a pedometer to see how much you’re doing throughout the day.
It’s recommended that every person walk at least 10,000 steps each day. A pedometer will help you see how many steps you’re taking throughout your regular routine. You can always try to add a little extra in small pieces throughout the day.
Tip #48 – Lighten Up Your Favorite Recipes
When it comes to dieting, you don’t want to have to give up your favorite foods. You can take some of your favorite recipes that aren’t really on your diet plan and adapt them for your use. There are many substitutions you can make that will make foods a little better for you.
- Substitute fat free soups for regular cream soups – you can’t taste the difference
- Cut the oil in a cake or brownie recipe by half and substitute the rest with applesauce
- Use fruit juices to sweeten recipes instead of sugar
- Use low-fat cheese instead of full fat
- In a recipe that calls for vegetables, double the vegetables and cut back on any fatty meats
- Use whole grain pastas instead of white
- Use whole grain rice instead of white
- Try using spaghetti squash to substitute for pasta in recipes
- Eat smaller portions of recipes that are higher in fat and calories and add a vegetable side dish to satisfy your hunger
- Substitute high fat meats with lean cuts
- Grill meats instead of frying them
- Use vegetable oil or olive oil instead of lard for frying
- Use nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream
- Use egg whites instead of whole eggs
- Use whole wheat flour instead of bleached flour in recipes to increase fiber
- Whenever possible, add beans to a recipe to increase fiber
- Use whole wheat tortillas instead of traditional white flour or substitute with corn tortillas
You don’t have to give up your favorite foods. In many instances you can make a few simple substitutions to lighten up a recipe that your family enjoys. If you can’t find a way to lighten the recipe, divide it into smaller portions and offer a healthy side.
Tip #49 – Consume Fresh Caught Fish
In the Western diet, there isn’t often a great deal of seafood. In fact, the Western diet is heavy on red meat and many people don’t know how to shop for or prepare fish. But there are many health benefits to eating fish.
- Fish is full of omega-3 fatty acids that have been show to improve heart health and lower cholesterol
- Fish has little saturated fat
- Fish is quick and easy to prepare
- Fish is flavorful and can help you to stick with your diet
If your only exposure to fish is a fried fillet from a fast food restaurant, it’s time to become more familiar with it. There are many different types of fish you can try and endless ways to prepare it. In areas of the world, such as the Mediterranean, where fish is a staple of the diet life expectancies are longer and obesity is not much of an issue. You can make this a part of your regular routine as well. Some fish to try include:
- Mahi mahi
All you need to prepare fish properly is a skillet or a grill. You can also bake and broil fish. Try marinating a fillet in olive oil, lemon, and fresh herbs. A fresh filet of fish can often be cooked in fewer than 10 minutes. Pair it with some whole grain rice and a vegetable and you have a complete, healthy meal. Look for recipes online or invest in a seafood cookbook for more ideas.
Tip #50 – Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
Congratulations on making the decision to take better care of your health by embarking on a diet and lifestyle change! But remember you are a human being and it’s almost impossible to implement a diet perfectly at all times. If you’re too critical of yourself you may find that you get burnt out quickly with your diet and give up. This is a common trap for many and can result in negative feelings as well as additional weight gain.
Give yourself a break from time to time. When you mess up, don’t use that as a reason to quit completely. Just pick yourself up at that moment and start over again. Think of making a mistake as hitting the reset button not the ejection button. There may be times when you just need to take a break from thinking about your food and lifestyle changes. That’s okay, too. Just plan a holiday from your diet and plan for the date at which you’ll pick up again.