When we talk about "diets", most people think of diets as deprivation and what we can’t have – don’t eat that, avoid this, sacrifice taste. It doesn’t have to be this way! You can still enjoy some of your favourite foods, but with a few simple tweaks. Soon enough you may find you don’t miss those calorie-rich add-ons … especially as you start to see results. When you see results, it will keep you motivated to stick with your new plan. It all adds up – the more simple changes you make, the more calories you save.
Breakfast of Champions
Are you eating your “Wheaties”? Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day, and helps kick start the metabolism after a night of fasting. Eating a breakfast packed with fiber and protein can keep you full and satisfied for the morning, which will also help keep your diet on track so you don't make poor choices as a result of starvation.
Like sweet breakfast foods? Swap your sugar or honey with stevia. Stevia helps keep your blood sugar in check while adding sweetness to your meals. A few good ideas are oats sweetened with stevia, cinnamon and topped with blueberries and nuts, or you can even blend up your oats with egg whites, apple sauce and make yourself a healthy pancake. A favorite of mine is protein-packed plain Greek yogurt sweetened with vanilla stevia and topped with fresh fruit. Make sure you are always adding some sort of protein with your breakfast like eggs or a shake, to keep yourself full.
You can have all the ingredients for a healthy salad – lean meat, vegetables – but if you’re adding a condiment or dressing that’s loaded with calories, you could be defeating the purpose. Instead of ranch dressing in your salad, try balsamic vinegar or just plain lemon juice. This simple switch can cut out 80 calories per tablespoon! Balsamic and lemon juice can add a lot of surprisingly good flavor to your salads, plus your waistline will thank you.
Also be aware of salads you order in the restaurant. Usually they come with many add-ons like nuts, tortilla chips, dried fruit and cheese that can make your healthy salad have more calories then a burger.
This is the time that most people sabotage themselves - dinner time!
You come home from a hard day of work, and you are tired and want comfort food. Unfortunately most people crave high-calorie carbohydrates in the evening, which is a major diet no-no.
How about a hearty bowl of pasta … minus the carbs.
A great substitute for pasta are vegetables. You can still have the tomato sauce and even sprinkle some Parmesan on top for flavor. Filling your plate with veggies is a great way to save yourself a lot of calories. Trading in your plate of spaghetti for a plate of spaghetti squash can satisfy your pasta cravings while sparing you up to 200 calories. Simply bake a spaghetti squash and scrape out the insides with a fork. You’ll end up with fibrous strands that you can top with your favourite veggies and a light tomato sauce. Great taste and low in calories: how’s that for comforting?
Stay Hydrated With Water
Staying hydrated is an important part of any diet. So, wherever possible, make water your beverage of choice. But if you have a weakness for juice, try cutting your fruit juice in half and filling the rest with carbonated water. It adds a fizzy punch and retains the vitamins of the fruit, while cutting the calories in half. Try cranberry, pineapple, grapefruit, or any other of your favourite fruit juices. It’s a simple switch, but when it comes to calories, even a little goes a long way.
Finding balance in your life requires commitment, organization and most of all, motivation. A great way to help you stay on track is to keep a food diary or track your food online. There are many online calorie counters you can choose from. Using a diary and writing down your goals is a great way to keep yourself motivated and on track by planning on how to achieve them (e.g., do yoga once a week, cut back on eating out, etc.). Keep it with you at all times and track everything: what you ate, when you exercised, how much sleep you got, how you were feeling that day. If you cheated a little bit, write that down too. If you are trying to lose weight, a diary is a great way to keep yourself accountable. Simply having a record of your lifestyle choices can make you feel more motivated towards your fitness and health goals.
Stay focused, positive and patient. Never give up on your health or on yourself!