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Healthy Living the Easy Way

Jan 09, 08:47 AM

Food and Fitness Fundamentals

Happy New Year! With the holidays behind us, have you found that you are now a statistic in relation to the study that suggests the average person only gains one pound between Thanksgiving and New Years?
If so, congratulations for not gaining more, and if you were one of the lucky ones who actually maintained or lost weight, that is even better!

Whether or not you are prone to making New Year’s resolutions, you may have some goals in mind regarding your overall health and lifestyle for 2012. Here are a few nutrition tricks to help get you started.

If you have landmarks you would like to meet in the upcoming months or year, a very important first step is to look closely at your everyday behaviors and identify the ones that could use fine tuning; then prioritize. Although you may now feel extremely exuberant and excited to dive in and make drastic changes, DON’T! Typically after the New Year, people tend to make dietary resolutions that are so extreme, they drastically disrupt their normal eating habits and are simply not realistic. This more often than not leads to a failure of all food (nutrition and or health) related goals.

Once you have assessed and prioritized your future goals and expectations, choose only one behavior at a time to focus on during the next couple weeks. This could be something like reading food labels and becoming more familiar with the nutritional value of prepackaged foods. Another idea may be to hone in on portion sizes and the associated calories of commonly eaten foods, so that you know the quantity of what you are actually eating. Being aware of your fat consumption is extremely important since one gram of fat provides 9 calories, vs. only 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate and protein. Alcohol is in-between providing 7 calories per gram.

Instead of making dramatic changes, try to start simply with small baby steps, such as:

At breakfast:
Take two slices of bacon instead of four.
Use one teaspoon of butter or margarine on toast instead of one tablespoon. Better yet, forego the fat entirely and choose 100 percent fruit preserves.

At lunch:
If you are on the go, make a pit stop at a sandwich deli and ask for low fat or fat free mayonnaise. Better yet, substitute mustard to add moisture and flavor to that sandwich. Stick with 3 oz of meat per sandwich instead of doubling up on portions, and of course choose lean meats like turkey.
As always, using a low calorie dressing on salads is a good choice. If you do choose regular fat dressings, ask for it on the side; dip the fork tongs into the salad dressing before preparing each bite. You will be amazed at the small amount of dressing actually consumed, yet your salad still tastes flavorful with each bite. Better yet, squeezing fresh lemon juice over the greens in lieu of a fatty salad dressing is very refreshing and eliminates additional calories all together.

At Dinner:
When eating fried foods like chicken, remove all or nearly all of the skin and breading in order to drastically cut your fat consumption.

When indulging in gravies and other high calorie sauces, limit your serving to one half of your normal portion and use it on your meat or potatoes, but not both.

Finally for dessert:
When able to reasonably do so, consider sharing your dessert with another person. Rid yourself of outside distractions so you can eat slowly, savor the flavor and enjoy every decadent bite.

Making adjustments such as those noted above, allows you to eat the same foods you are currently enjoying, and yet incorporates small behavioral changes that should be beneficial to your health in the long run. Focusing on one behavioral change at a time for a couple weeks, or until it becomes habit, allows your new set goal to now become a natural lifestyle choice. My next blog will continue this focus on helping you make 2012 a memorable year for healthy living the easy way.

Until next time, here’s to healthy eating!

Lori Dodds, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian at The Corvallis Clinic Nutrition Services Department.

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