I’ve had the incredible pleasure this week of starting the clinical portion of my dietetic internship, working in a community hospital. This week I observed many outpatient sessions with a long-practicing dietitian (over 30 years in the industry) and I’d like to share her tips for weight loss success with you. These 4 tips can help anyone reach their goals, regardless if you have 5, 10, 50 pounds to lose, want to eat healthier, or eat like the pro’s do!
1. Plan, plan, plan! I can tell you first hand that planning your meals for the day (and even week) are the #1 key to losing or maintaining your weight. If you don’t know what you’re going to be eating for the day and don’t plan ahead, I guarantee you’ll be relying on convenient, grab-and-go foods as your fuel…and unfortunately fruits and vegetables don’t fall under this category. After all, they don’t call fast food, well, fast food, for nuthin’. The professionals (RD’s and nutritionists) recognize that maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes strategy and planning. Here are some ways you can implement this:
- Before you go to bed, prepare the next day’s worth of foods. Know what you will eat in the morning, have lunch prepared and packed, including snacks, and know what you’re eating for dinner that night. Spontaneity is not your friend here.
- Make Sunday your plan, shop, and prep day. Step 1: Plan a week’s worth of meals, including snacks and make a grocery list. Step 2: Hit the store (remember, the perimeter of the store is your friend–it’s where all the fresh food is!) and purchase your items for the week. Step 3: Prep as much as you can for meals. Cut, chop, dice your veggies. Cook a big pot of grains or soup for the week. Make a pot of spaghetti sauce. This insures you’ll always have something to eat!
2. Eat multiple times a day. Have you ever started the day off as planned, eating breakfast and perhaps lunch as usual. But you got busy at the office in the afternoon and missed your pm snack. I’ll bet you $100 that you came home ravenous, ate whatever’s in your pantry including that 4-month old chocolate bar and the stale popcorn…and then some. (Ok, that was me) A little binge, perhaps? RD’s set themselves up for success by eating every few hours. It might seem a bit backwards, but eating more throughout the day will actually help you not overeat at night and can help you lost weight. I tell my clients to picture their blood sugar like a graph. After you eat a meal, it spikes and then dips below “flatline.” If you don’t refuel yourself in a few hours, you’ll remain below flatline and honestly just feel like crap. And then the next time you eat, your blood sugar will spike again and then take a plunging nosedive, and again you’ll feel like poop. Ideally what we want are gentle peaks and valleys throughout the day, hovering right around the flatline. Here is a sample day:
10-11: am snack
3:30-4:30: pm snack
3. Eat balanced meals–even at snack time. A balanced meal involves carbohydrate, protein, and fat at every meal. Have you ever had a bagel or a bowl of cheerios and were hungry 20 minutes later? Yeah, me too. RD’s make sure they are eating a little bit of each “macronutrient” at every meal to help keep them fuller. Protein and fat help to do that. I like this example of a healthy meal plate, which I follow. Here are some other snack examples that include carbs, fat, and protein (please note I haven’t listed portion sizes:)
-carrots with hummus
-whole wheat toast with peanut butter
-apple with nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew)
-greek yogurt with walnuts
-1/2 tuna sandwich on whole wheat
-veggies, apple, or crackers with cheese
-Smoothie with protein powder or siken tofu, soy milk
4. Eat whole foods. This goes without saying, naturally. Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains…as close to nature as possible. Humans were not meant to eat chemically processed foods loaded with sodium, artificial sweeteners and unhealthy fats. We thrive on what Mama Nature gives to us. Your health will directly reflect the amount of whole foods you eat. Bonus points if you eat produce in season from your local Farmer’s Market!
So there you go..4 simple yet effective ways to maximize your health. And of course we make room for treats, life is short after all. But they’re just that…treats.
What are your tips for eating a healthy diet? What tools work for you?