Weight in Winter: 5 Tips to Halt a Gain

winter weight gainDo you worry about your weight in the winter? As frigid temps keep us bundled up, many of us keep eating. And, it’s so easy to keep eating because it’s easy to hide under loose sweaters and big coats. Weight gain in winter happens so easily. We may not have gotten out of the December holiday spirit as far as eating goes. Or, perhaps we are eating just because we are feeling “blue.” Winter can be depressing for many, so it might be time to figure out how to keep your weight in winter under control, to make for a more pleasant spring!

Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder sunshine on lady helps her mood, fights winter weight gain

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD

I have heard repeatedly from clients that all they want to do is keep eating because they feel so “blue” this winter. Occasionally, the clients suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This form of depression is related to seasonal changes. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects up to 5% of the population and can last almost half the year. It strikes both men and women, but more women are affected. Younger adults are more prone to SAD than older adults.

But, sometimes clients are just feeling down in the dumps because the winter is so long in the Midwest. So, barring a tropical vacation or moving, here are a few steps that can be taken to raise spirits and lessen weight gain this winter. Hopefully you can stop inappropriate eating and stop winter weight gain at the same time. Get healthy and manage your weight this winter for a joyous spring-sounds great, right?

1. Sunshine can halt weight gain in winter

Even the gloomiest areas in the Midwest will occasionally be sunny. Therefore, be sure to capitalize on it even if you need to bundle up to do so. Take a walk outside in those rays of sunshine. This will elevate your mood because the exercise and sunshine will affect your balance of key brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters include serotonin, melatonin, and endorphins. Serotonin helps regulate both your mood and appetite. Melatonin is necessary for regulating healthy sleep cycles-and we all know how important sleep is to our thought processes and overall well being. Endorphins are chemicals that lessen pain and can make us feel less hungry.

2. Light therapy instead of sun

Along the lines of catching natural light rays, researchers are aware that certain light spectrums, such as blue light, seem to help alleviate SAD. Many free-standing blue light lamps are available for easy purchase online. If purchasing a light therapy lamp, keep in mind that are many types available and there are a lot of factors to consider in terms of safety and efficacy. Eye safety is one factor to consider. Those with certain conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, or diabetes should always check with their doctors before purchasing a light box.

3. Weight in winter and vitamin D

Many Americans have inadequate blood vitamin D levels. It’s an ongoing challenge for many to get enough vitamin D for various reasons. Research supports that getting your blood vitamin D levels in the right range is ammunition in fighting seasonal affective disorder. Bleak days and lots of warm bulky clothes limit the body’s ability to make the so-called “sunshine” vitamin. This is because vitamin D is produced by the body when sun shines on a compound on our skin. If that skin is covered, you are not going to be making it. If we cannot make it, we are able to supplement our diet with vitamin D. During winter months, dosages in the 1000-1200 IU range are probably safe for most people who have limited sun exposure. With that said, your blood levels are easily checked. Once checked, seek advise from a trusted medical professional on dosing for supplements.

4. Control your eating environment

While waiting for spring weather and freedom from the winter doldrums, don’t undo previous successful weight loss with binge eating just because of SAD or depression. Control your eating environment at home by ridding it of high temptation and high calorie foods. Setting yourself up for temptation with favorite treats staring you down will never work for weight loss or control as willpower is typically a short-term strategy.

5. Stock your kitchen appropriately

a well stocked kitchen

A well stocked kitchen goes a long way to both nourish and “comfort” you. There are plenty of healthier low sodium soups to stock up on. Consider some batch cooking of homemade soups and meals to grab when you want homemade comfort food. Increase your consumption of fruits, veggies, and lentils to increase your anti-oxidants and fiber. In addition to a myriad of health benefits, fiber fills you up which helps with preventing weight gain. Don’t be afraid of opting for frozen fruits and veggies at this time of year. They are just as nutritious as the fresh varieties which are harder to buy in the winter. When the warm weather comes, you will be happy that you did not pile on the weight due to winter blues.

Takeaway tips for winter weight control

Here’s to wrapping up winter. The sooner the better! Remember, an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Find you “light” to lift your mood, whether it is sunshine or blue light therapy. Check your vitamin D levels. Be smart with your kitchen by keeping it well stocked with nutrient dense lower temptation foods. By watching the quality of your diet this winter, you will be in a better position mentally and physically when springtime springs!

 

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Lose Weight, No Diet Required: Just Take These Steps

lose weight withou a dietIf you just can’t take another popular weight loss diet that causes “hangry” symptoms or constipation, here are some super easy steps to help you. These easy steps can help you lose weight without any sort of restrictive weight loss diet. These steps are simple actions that anyone can implement to promote weight loss effortlessly and without a structured meal plan. Part of the weight loss process is just finding the mindset to get focused on the process. By starting with these steps first, the weight loss will follow. You’ll get more and more motivated as you lose weight without a structured diet. Then, if more steps are necessary, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to implement them. Having had initial success will spur you on! Here’s how to easily lose weight with no diet required:

No diet weight loss begins by cleaning

lose weight with a clean kitchenClean more than your kitchen floor! Clean out all your food storage areas as well. If you do not have a bunch of junk food in your house, that will decrease the availability of foods that trip up your weight loss attempts. I’m a firm believer in forgetting about willpower to lose weight.

Go through all food storage spaces: the cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator and eliminate the foods that are hindering a healthy diet and weight loss. Consider taking a few minutes to also evaluate your high temptation “trigger” type foods (salty foods, peanut butter, sweets, or whatever) to capitalize on this first step. Make sure those foods are not stocked in your cleaned up kitchen. By cleaning up your eating environment, you can basically avoid temptation, at least while at home. And, you probably spend at least 65% of your time at home.

1. Cabinets

Keep healthy staples to allow you to toss together a quick meal. Consider stocking:

  • Brown rice and and whole grain pastas
  • Cereals that are high in fiber to fill you up. And, cereal that is lower in sugar.
  • Canned tuna, salmon, and chicken
  • Low sodium soups
  • Reduced fat or organic peanut butter or other favorite nut butters. As long as you can watch the serving size, this is fine to add to a healthy eating regimen.
  • Rice cakes and popcorn cakes (they have come along way, so consider keeping those in your cabinet as a crunchy snack). There are even chocolate rice cakes.
  • Healthy canned juice such as low sodium V-8, which is a great nonperishable vegetable serving and loaded with potassium.
  • A source of calcium “on standby” in the cabinet. Consider stocking boxes of almond, soy, rice, or oat milk that do not need refrigeration.

2. Freezer

First go through your freezer and toss foods: that you don’t recognize, that you won’t ever eat, or that you know are just bad for you! After that step, you’ll have space to add the right foods to have on hand. Keep the following in your freezer:

  • A variety frozen fruits and vegetables that you enjoy eating. They keep for months and the nutritional content is on par with with fresh version. Use the frozen fruits for smoothies when you feel lazy about meal cooking. My smoothie recipe is considered an actual meal replacement.
  • Consider making batches of healthier muffins along with other breakfast items to store and pull out for a healthy and fast breakfast.
  • When you do cook, don’t forget to double up the recipe, portion the leftovers immediately, and freeze for a later date. Always label foods with name and date frozen to make it easier to pull out when needed.
  • Healthier frozen meals. The calories, fat, and sodium will be noted and you know exactly what’s going into your body. A good quality frozen dinner is much better for weight management than running to a fast food chain or ordering take out! The nutritional pitfalls of restaurant dining are numerous.

3. Refrigerator

Do the same with the refrigerator, and toss foods that are bad for your health. Stock staples in your refrigerator on a regular basis. Suggestions include:

  • Eggs and egg substitutes
  • Milk (consider including probiotic rich Kefir products)
  • Protein rich cottage cheese and yogurt
  • A variety of fresh produce that you know you will eat (lettuce, carrots, celery, radishes, cucumbers. berries)
  • Cheese (all varieties including string, 2% milk fat American, Parmesan, Bon Bel, fresh mozzarella, Laughing Cow)
  • Healthier cold cuts such as lower sodium chicken, turkey, roast beef
  • 100% pure juices (I enjoy the freshly squeezed and bottled orange juice)
  • Kombucha
  • Ice tea you brewed yourself so it’s low in sugar and without preservatives

Lose weight, no diet required, just start PLANNING-Action Steps

lose weight without a diet through meal planningIt always strikes me how easy it would be to eat better with better planning. Winging each meal without thought is not the best way to manage a healthy eating plan to lose weight. How many times have you been out of food, been tired, or just had no idea as to what to eat? Probably more often than you’d like to admit. Although eating is instinctive, what is eaten is not. You must do some planning to make healthy eating happen. When more healthy eating than unhealthy eating occurs, weight loss and weight management are easier.

1. Planning starts before the grocery store

Get and idea of both your daily commitments, those of your family, and what kind of time constraints you’re up against for each day of the week. By thinking this through, you can plan simpler meals, faster meals (instant pot meals), or plug in the slower cooker in the morning. If you don’t have a plan, then the instant pot meal might not get thrown together and the crock pot won’t be plugged in on time. After you’ve mapped out your dinners (usually the most problematic meal), then start your shopping list. As you need to eat breakfast, lunch, and snacks you’ll obviously plan for those eating events as well.

2. Off to the grocery store (or computer)

Stick with the list. Shop the perimeter of the store if possible. Yep, don’t shop hungry. Add, don’t shop tired and pressed for time, if possible. Being hungry, tired, and pressed for time will usually result in impulse purchases. Limited time to shop? Consider using one of the easy grocery shopping alternatives. Peapod, Amazon Prime Now, Instacart, and Shipt come to mind. Consumer Reports did a recent online evaluation of the more popular grocery services along with offering some insightful guidance. From a dietitian’s perspective, I love that you can: skip the lines, check labels out before clicking, and if need be check if you have the item for a recipe while ordering. I love the efficiency and convenience of this. The time saved is enough to justify the few extra dollars.

3. Follow through on step 1

Use your dinner planning outline and personal calendar to implement a week at a time. Skip heavy or complicated dinners when running to evening commitments. Consider breakfast food for dinner? That’s always a great solution when pressed for time. Consider purchasing a precooked entree such as a rotisserie chicken and using for several days’ worth of meals (dinner as the entree, low fat chicken salad the next day for lunch).

Here’s a free meal planning template from Office 365 to download to start drafting your meals. Or, check this link out for another planner with the shopping list attached. I know people love to put lists into their phones, but some of us are strictly pen/paper visual for things like lists!

Self monitoring to lose weight with no diet

lose weight without a dietTrack food eaten

Sorry, at some point you need to be aware of what you are eating and drinking. Mindless eating, stress eating, boredom eating, and comfort eating all take their toll on your weight. Find an app you are comfortable using, and just start tracking your food. My favorite app to use with clients is Myfitnesspal. Most of my clients track their food with this app, and then I review their records at their appointment. I always tell them to be sure to document the bad days as well as the good. This helps with the self monitoring process between appointments. Even if you are not under a nutritionist’s care, you can track your food yourself to get an idea of what goes into your mouth and why!

Weigh yourself

Yes, this may mean hopping on a scale! Apparently, self-monitoring has not gone out of style as an effective weight loss tool. In one recent study, 74 adults were monitored during a 3-month Internet based weight loss program that focused on behavior. The participants were required to weigh daily with results transmitted to the researchers. They also were required to answer questions each week on mood and behaviors associated with weight. The results indicated that a greater self-monitoring frequency helped participants stay on task. They exhibited better mood, had less temptation to eat poor food choices, and were less bored with weight control efforts. While not everyone can be in a study, you can always seek the services of a health care provider such as a dietitian to assist with this monitoring. If you don’t have the resources for that, get a scale and monitor yourself consistently!

Key points for no diet weight loss strategies

Weight loss can be a struggle. Fad diets come and go. They are usually difficult to adhere to over the long haul. Sometimes, refocusing on issues not related to calories and deprivation can be the jump start to weight loss and even the key to ongoing sustained weight loss.

You must have your “tools” available to succeed-namely, foods that facilitate health and are personally satisfying to you. Clean out your food storage areas of junk and replenish them with healthful food options. After you’ve pitched the bad stuff and purchased better food choices, you need a game plan for eating. For most, healthy eating is not instinctive. Instead, it requires organized thought with a plan. Plan your “problem” mealtimes and snacks. Once you’ve come up with some structured food plan options that are realistic, make sure you follow-through on eating what you planned. Track your food. Check your diet to determine if you are following your planning! And, consider hopping on the scale to keep yourself honest.

Please share your own non-diet strategies and how you lose weight without a diet.

 

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How to Lose Weight By Thinking Differently!

how to lose weight by thinking differentlyDo you play mind games that prevent you from winning at losing weight? Are you always having a conversation with yourself that manages to sabotage your newest Monday efforts to lose weight? If so, chances are pretty good that you have a dialogue in your head that needs to change. If you’re having the following self conversations, it’s best to change your dialogue. Changing your self talk is a great first step when you feel you absolutely can’t lose weight.

The clean plate game to lose weight

You know this game: eat it all up because some people are starving! If you eat up all the food when not hungry, you are not helping anyone that is starving! Or, you paid for it so you must eat it. At home, put less food on your plate. In a restaurant, ask for the people box prior to digging into the large plate of food. Acknowledge that while you still paid for it, you now have food for another meal so you doubled your value. This is a hard habit to break, but it can be done with practice. These portion control strategies are always going to help when one has trouble losing weight. The portion control automatically decreases your calorie consumption. It’s such a simple concept that is often overlooked.

Skipping breakfast may slow weight loss

You think you will eat less overall calories by limiting what you consume in the morning. Many studies indicate that when people do this, they manage to consume more total calories in a given day. In other words, this eating strategy can backfire for some people. Other studies show that when people consume substantial calories in the morning, they use those calories to meet energy requirements more efficiently, and store less of that energy in fat cells. Eating the bulk of your calories at the tail end of the day is, therefore, theoretically less efficient for your body weight and overall energy levels.

I will add, however, that some studies also suggest that whether someone eats breakfast or not has no impact on weight status. With that said, skipping breakfast and lighter daytime eating can put you at some degree of nutritional risk. It is very difficult to meet overall nutritional requirements with almost no daytime food and just dinner. And, if your blood sugar takes a nose dive during the day, you are at risk for an eating binge.

Use caution with foods prepared elsewhere

pizza takeout food and weight gainDo you really know what is happening in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant and take-out place? I would venture to guess that this food has much more fat, calories, and sodium than you would find in your own kitchen. Try to limit relying on outside sources for your meals unless you are able to confirm with nutrition labels that it is a healthy option. When you do dine out, at least try and check the nutrition information out ahead of time. There are so many websites and apps available to the consumer to do some pre-planning for healthier options. HealthyDiningFinder is a site where you input your zip code and nearby dining options are noted.

Review menus in advance

While not all restaurants can make their nutrition information available, you can at least take a peek at the menu online. That way you can begin thinking about the better meal options in advance of stepping foot into the restaurant. This helps you avoid quick impulse decisions on your selections. Once with friends socializing at the restaurant, your planning strategies to pick healthy choices may fizzle. Having thought about what to order in advance will keep defensive dining tactics in play.

It’s for “company” game

bowl of candy and weight lossThere are many variations to this one: there is also “It’s for the kids.” Do the M & Ms really need to be in a bowl for your grandchildren and shouting to you all the time? I have grandchildren too, but I would not have a candy bowl sitting out all the time. I certainly like the chocolate as well and I would not be able to stare it down. Get the treats for kids, grandchildren, and company, but keep a limited stock that is purchased just prior to their arrival. Or, hide it from yourself. Better yet, get a treat that does not pose a high temptation threat to you! The less you like that treat, the better you can resist it.

Willpower for weight loss

I don’t feel that most people successful at long-term weight loss can use the concept of willpower. Over the long haul, they should instead think “smart” on eating strategies: keep a clean kitchen free of high temptation foods, keep small amounts or portion controlled foods that you conceptualize as treats, or if food is just too tempting to avoid once in your kitchen, just don’t put it into your grocery cart in the first place. Willpower, in my opinion, is not a good long term weight loss strategy.

Reflection for weight loss

Taking a step back to evaluate how you think about eating may be just the solution for trouble losing weight! By managing your thoughts along with your eating environment, you can start down the weight management road without tripping up too much. While summer is over, the holidays are right around the corner. Thinking differently could be just the torture-free weight loss fix you need when you think you can’t lose weight. Anyone can lose weight with the proper tools. After you change your thinking, consider these next weight loss steps.

Care to share your strategies for helping to “win” at the weight loss game?

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Low Calorie Snacks: 60 Simple 100 Calorie Choices

100 calorie snacksThe holidays have arrived. You don’t want to gain ten pounds this season. So, you are trying to be mindful about your eating habits-including snacking. By setting a 100 calorie limit for snacks, you’re sure to stay on track with your diet and weight management. Smart snacking strategies work during the holidays and really all year long. Personally, I think that to make snacking options really work for a person, they need to be super easy. While Pinterest and the rest of the internet have many great snack recipes, it’s nice to have 100 calorie diet snack options that are NOT recipes! Sometimes, it’s necessary to make snacking fast and effortless! Any preparation beyond getting to the grocery store and simply eating the snack may actually be a mental roadblock. With no recipes or preparation, these 100 calorie simple snacks will help straighten out your eating quickly.

Some of these 100 calorie diet snacks are easily purchased in prepackaged servings. Other 100 calorie diet snack options listed here just combine simple foods. Or, it might be necessary to count certain food items to reach the 100 calories. There are no recipes, just 60 easy 100 calorie simple diet snacks.

Benefits of snacking

Snacking can prevent you from overeating. By incorporating a snack into your day, you can offset a downward blood sugar spiral which could lead to severe hunger. Untamed, severe hunger can lead to a calorie binge that was not anticipated. You will simply eat too much, too quickly, and possibly the wrong foods if you become ravenous. It’s always best to avoid that scenario so you avoid eating the whole kitchen. Strategically placed snacks throughout the day do more than raise your blood sugar to prevent overeating. They can also be a significant source of nutrients-depending on what snacks you opt for. There are many “treat” type snacks noted below, but there are many 100 calorie options noted that are high in nutrients. By adding several planned snacks to your daily eating regimen, you are more likely to meet your overall nutritional requirements.

By choosing more of the nutrient dense options, your snacks can contribute specific key nutrients and have a huge impact on your biochemistry. If you opt for fruit and vegetables as snacks, you’ll be getting more fiber, potassium, and phytochemicals into your diet. If you opt for protein rich snacks, you’ll be satisfied for a longer time period because the protein stabilizes your blood sugar levels. As far as your sweet tooth, sometimes it just needs to be satisfied, right? Knowing how to stop the sweet tooth snack attacks at 100 calorie will be helpful for all your weight and health goals!

20 salty/crunchy low calorie snacks

100 calorie diet snacks

  1. 1 bag of Skinny Pop popcorn
  2. 25 baby carrots
  3. 2 celery stacks with 1 Tbsp. reduced fat peanut butter
  4. 20 dill pickles
  5. a medium sized apple
  6. pretzels, 3/4 oz.
  7. 25 pistachio nuts
  8. 40 raw almonds
  9. 11 cashews
  10. 16 peanuts
  11. 2 Tbsp. roasted chickpeas
  12. Simply Quinoa Chips, 3/4 oz.
  13. Soy nuts, 3/4 oz.
  14. 15 Tostitos tortilla chips plus 2 Tbsp. salsa
  15. 5.5 ounces of tomato juice plus 1 oz. vodka, plus 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  16. 3 Tbsp. toasted and salted sunflower seeds
  17. Pirate Booty, 3/4 oz.
  18. Amy’s Minestrone Soup, 1 cup
  19. Trader Joe’s Pickled Beets, 3/4 cup
  20. 28 Veggie Straws

20 sweet low calorie snacks

snacks for sweet tooth, waffle with whipped cream

  1. Low fat waffle, 5 strawberries, aerosol whipped cream
  2. 10 jelly beans
  3. 27 M & Ms
  4. 4 Hershey Kisses (more lower calorie chocolate snacks)
  5. 1 oz. box of raisins
  6. 4 large marshmallows
  7. Ice cream float made with diet soda and 1/2 cup ice cream
  8. 11 Frosted Mini Wheat Biscuits
  9. 2/3 cup Honey Nut Cheerios
  10. 2 fig bars
  11. Baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon, stevia, and spray of whipped cream
  12. 3/4  cup skim milk sweetened with 1 Tbsp. Hershey’s Lite Syrup
  13. Medium sized banana (4.2 ounce)
  14. 20 strawberries with 2 Tbsp. aerosol whipped cream
  15. 2 cups of watermelon
  16. Salerno Butter Cookies, 4
  17. Rice Krispie Treat, 1 package
  18. 1/2 cup strawberry Halo Top Ice Cream
  19. 60 grapes
  20. Creamsicle, 1 bar

20 protein rich low calorie snacks

high protein 100 calorie snacks

  1. 3 oz. cooked shrimp plus 1 Tbsp. cocktail sauce
  2. Hard boiled egg, Extra Large
  3. One cup low fat milk
  4. 2 oz. cooked chicken
  5. 2 oz. flank steak
  6. 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 4% milkfat
  7. 1/4 cup cottage cheese, 4% milkfat, plus 5 oz. cantaloupe
  8. 1 oz. brie cheese or provolone cheese
  9. 2 slices of 2% milkfat American cheese
  10. Yoplait Greek Lemon Yogurt, 1 container
  11. Oikos Mixed Berry Yogurt, 4.5 ounces
  12. 1/2 cup light tofu
  13. 1 string cheese
  14. Belgioioso fresh mozzarella balls, 1 oz. plus 2 water crackers
  15. tuna packed in water, 4 oz.
  16. 2 Tbsp. humus plus one whole carrot
  17. Edamame, 1/2 cup
  18. 2 wedges Laughing Cow Extra Light plus 2 Melba Toast
  19. Babybel Light Cheese & Crackers prepackaged snack
  20. 1 Luna high protein bar

I hope you enjoyed this list of snack options for your salt cravings, sweet tooth, and protein fixes! Snacking can be an important part of a high quality diet. Choosing your snacks wisely can increase key nutrients in your diet. It can reign in your sweet tooth to help manage your weight. And, it can even help stabilize blood sugar to curb hunger and control diabetes. These are great options to add to your eating plan to round out your taste preferences without rounding out your waistline! If looking for a few less calories, check out 50 calorie snacks!

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Ice Cream Calories: 6 Tips to Lighten Up

tips to decrease your ice cream calories and not increase your waistlineIce cream is a special summer treat. For many of us, summer is the time we went to the local ice cream shop for a special treat on a hot summer day. We did this as kids, and now with your own kids, you may be repeating family traditions. But, if you are like many Americans, it might be advantageous to know how to lighten the calories to help your waistline. If you are not careful, you can easily end up with an ice cream calorie equivalent of a whole day’s worth of calories!

Here are six tips to carry on with your ice cream tradition without increasing your waistline:

Avoid premium ice creams altogether 

A single 6 oz. scoop of premium ice cream can cost you 500 calories. Oberweis chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate marshmallow, chocolate almond, butter pecan, butter brickle, chocolate caramel crunch, cookie dough, and strawberry cheesecake flavors can all claim that calorie content! After you decide on your ice cream, you need to pick a cone or cup. Waffle cones generally have more calories (120-160 calories) than sugar cones (60-130). Pick the paper cup instead and you’ve saved yourself some calories without sacrificing much of the flavor!

Eat like a little kid to cut ice cream calories

kids eating ice creamCalories and fat will always follow portion sizes, so you can either have a bite of someone else’s treat, or get yourself a kid scoop. A kid scoop is roughly 2.5-3 oz., so you can assume the calories are slashed 50% from the adult version, translating to much more calorie and fat control.

Scrutinize low-fat and dairy free options

Don’t assume because the ice cream is low-fat that it is fine to have a double scoop! The Oberweis single scoop low-fat flavors range in calories from vanilla at 250 calories to chocolate marshmallow at 300 calories. Do the math and you can see how you might still get into a calorie bind by having a double scoop.

Dairy free ice creams are the current hot rage as the demand for healthier frozen treats has spiraled. These dairy free ice cream treats are made from almond, soy, and coconut milk and some also contain pea protein. While the dairy has been removed, the calories have not. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream roasted peanut butter and strawberry jam flavor yields 17 grams of fat and 270 calories per 2/3 cup. Ben & Jerry’s almond milk chocolate chip cookie dough flavor has 16 grams of fat and 350 calories for 2/3 cup. A better choice would be Talenti brand dairy and fat free mango sorbetto which will satisfy your sweet tooth for only 160 calories.

Skip the toppings to cut ice cream calories

Dipping your DQ vanilla cone in chocolate will add anywhere from 100-200 calories to your treat, depending on the size of cone you opt for. Adding  the candy pieces, whipped cream, and nuts will also give you some additional “energy” to the tune of at least 100 calories.

Go for cold alternatives 

Most ice cream franchises have healthier lower fat and calorie options for consumers.Better options include sorbet, low-fat frozen yogurt, and sherbet. Single scoop servings of these frosty alternatives may also be significantly lower in calories. A 4 oz. serving of sorbet can run your calorie tab 80-150 calories. Many frozen yogurt flavors are 150 calories or less per 4 oz. serving. While sherbet is virtually fat-free, the calories can start adding up as a 4-6 oz. single scoop of orange sherbet can run as high as 260 calories. If slashing fat is the objective, sherbet is a good way to go, but the calorie tab may run higher than anticipated.

Go to the supermarket instead 

There are so many frozen treats at your supermarket to take advantage of if you are trying to stay slim this summer. Spend a few minutes looking at the nutrition fact labels and pick a product that suits your palate and nutritional goal. There are many ice cream-like products hitting the mainstream and specialty grocery stores all the time that are both tasty and fit into anyone’s eating lifestyle.

If your full fat treat is a once in awhile treat, enjoy it! But if you frequent ice cream shops, then you’ll help your waistline by paying attention to the type and portion size of treats selected.

What do you opt for at the ice cream store? Can you share the nutrition information of your favorite frozen treat?

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Willpower for Weight Loss? Not the Best Strategy

willpower for weight loss does not work

If the cupcake was not in your house, it would not be an option.

Many of us think that it’s necessary to have willpower for weight loss. We think, “If only I am strong enough and determined, if only I exercise self-control with my diet and exercise, I will be able to maintain a healthier lifestyle and weight.” Such thinking can be mighty self-limiting. It converts a positive decision- to be healthy- into another reason to feel guilty if willpower isn’t enough to get the weight loss started and the goal achieved.

Environment vs. willpower for weight loss

For this reason, if you are my client, I advocate a different approach. Namely, I believe that willpower is a self-defeating concept when it comes to losing weight or maintaining weight loss. Instead, I counsel my patients to control their eating environments. By sustaining a “healthy” eating environment, you can also assist in improving your own health and weight. Such an environment means limiting the high calorie and fat foods in your home, so that you are not tempted to succumb to their temptation, which in turn makes willpower at home irrelevant.

Tips for weight loss without willpower:

Toss your leftover goodies for weight loss 

If you have trouble pitching them, give them to a skinny friend or bring them to your office. A moment on your lips can result in months on your hips, as the saying goes. Evaluate if it is worth the momentary gratification.

Be smart when grocery shopping

Avoid putting high temptation foods in your cart in the first place. Self-control only needs to happen at the grocery store. Avoid impulse purchases with a planned grocery list that you stick to. And, as you have heard before, don’t grocery shop when you are hungry. It be a good idea to also not shop when you are pressed for time or tired.

Stock up on lots of healthy foods 

These healthy foods are your “tools” for successful weight loss. If you are concerned about fresh foods perishing, remember, frozen foods are just as nutrient dense as their fresh counterparts! Here are some suggestions for keeping a healthy stocked kitchen.

Limit treats to 150 calories or less

There are many desserts available that are pre-packaged and under 150 calories. These lower calorie treats can be great for curbing our sweet tooth. Here’s a list of 50 calorie treats providing protein, fiber, and help for your sweet tooth. If others in your household just have to have certain high calorie treats in the house, tell them to make them unavailable to you. In plain English, let them hide them.

Keep undesirable foods out of sight

Make these food items hard work to get to. Don’t keep the ice cream in the freezer; instead, if you want to indulge, make it so you have to go out and get your portion of ice cream. And if you do go out and indulge at the ice cream shop, think about some smart strategies ahead of time. A little mental preparation ahead of time can help you make the best choices for your health and waistline.

While there are always other eating and dining obstacles to be faced while trying to lose weight and keep ourselves healthy, take a step in the right direction by reducing your reliance on willpower and making your home a healthy eating environment!

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Chronic Fatigue: 4 Diet and Lifestyle Tips to Tackle

chronic fatigueIt goes by many names: chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID), myaligic encephalomyelitis (ME). Whatever you want to call it, it requires lifestyle changes in order to cope. And, clearly bed rest is not a quick fix for those that are truly afflicted. If you have this condition, you know who you are! You may also remember your life before the condition and after. There was that distinct little red line of health which was crossed and then, at some point, triggered your seemingly endless fatigue.

Tips for managing chronic fatigue

1. Manage weight for chronic fatigue

Under the circumstance, this can be a huge challenge. If you are needing to pace yourself with rest, then you will be sitting more. Eating more nutrient rich low calorie foods will be your tool for weight management. It’s amazing what a difference there is in terms of calorie burn on days you are mostly sitting vs. being able to walk around all day when you may feel better. It’s important to match your calorie intake with calorie output.

trackable for weight management with chronic fatigueI am a huge fan of fitness trackers for just this reason. Knowing real time energy output on bad days and then better days, helps immensely in weight management. The fitness tracker can guide you on how much you can eat on a given day based on your calorie burn. Looking at your calorie output and then matching your calorie intake to that output will maintain your weight. If you eat less than that calorie burn, you will lose weight. If you eat more than your calorie burn, you will gain weight. Here are some additional dietitian recommended steps for weight management that could help with long-term weight control when battling chronic fatigue.

2. Do eat a nutrient dense diet

Your calories need to “count” from a nutritional standpoint because there may not be a lot of discretionary calories for you to be eating if you are burning few calories due to your fatigue and limited activity. The better quality diet will only increase your chances of feeling better. There’s no guarantee, but it can’t hurt. Here are some important nutrition tips on how to really improve your diet.

Too tired to prepare food? Never cook for only one meal. Double batch and use your freezer. Don’t be afraid of a frozen meal such as Healthy Choice® meals. They are always going to be healthier than what you might grab at a restaurant.

3. Consider certain supplements

CoQ10The condition remains one that the established medical community cannot open a text book and find solid direction on how to treat. With that said, there are a few supplements that may be helpful. Consider CoEnzymeQ10, D-ribose, and probably a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement (purchasing tips). I don’t uniformly recommend the latter to patients, but when calories need to be restricted for manage weight, it’s not a bad idea in my opinion. The CoQ10 and D-ribose are tied in with our biochemical energy cycle, and I personally find them to be helpful. Other research has suggested a daily dosage of 200 mg CoQ10 and 20 mg of NADH twice a day as being therapeutic for symptoms.

4. Manage fatigue with boundary setting

While boundary setting is not necessarily a nutrition tip, it’s an important lifestyle tip. Learn to say “no” if you feel it will compromise your health. Many of us are so eager to be normal, that it’s very easy to overdo it when we feel on the normal end of the spectrum. Both mental and physical pacing need to be first and center in your life. If you are reading this, you are probably all too familiar with the “crash and burn” cycle of both chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Doing too much at a time can result in being a limp rag doll later. Best to manage that precious resource called energy and pace yourself all day and every day-even when you may be feeling “normal”.

Take away

Managing weight with a good quality diet is key for self-care under any circumstances. Research has indicated that in addition to a good quality diet, some supplements may be helpful. Setting mental and physical boundaries is also key in helping conserve energy in order to avoid the “crash and burn” cycle from overdoing it when having a better day.

What tips can you share to live your best life?

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Making Weight Loss a Reality: 5 Surefire Simple Steps

weight lossPerhaps you started off the year with the best intentions, like most people.  You were going to hit the gym and lose twenty pounds by March.  Then the wind, snow, and winter doldrums came, and have not gone away.  Your best intentions for weight loss fizzled out as you became tired of it all, again (both the snow and the lost commitment).

It happens! But, this can be the beginning of the end of your weight loss hassles as long as you follow some historically successful suggestions.  Consider the following:

Your “magic” number for weight loss

You need to eat fewer calories than your body needs in order to burn body fat, which is the objective in weight loss.  You do not want to lose water or muscle mass, you want to lose body fat.  If you take your current weight, and multiply by 10, this will be a good gauge of the amount of calories you should consume to cause weight loss.  So, if you weigh 135 and you wish to lose weight, multiply 135 by 10, and your good starting point is 1350 calories.  If you have a complicated workout schedule or need very specific guidance due to diseases such as diabetes, PCOS, and chronic fatigue syndrome, consider consulting with a dietitian to find the best calorie prescription for your circumstances.

Track your food for weight loss

It truly works!  If you know your magic number, but have no idea how much you are eating, you will stay fat.  My favorite tracking tool is MyFitnessPal because it is a very user-friendly app and makes tracking food a snap.  You can literally snap a picture of a bar code on a food item and the nutrition information will go to the data base.  Because everyone is on the go, using this app for food tracking eliminates the need to park yourself at the computer.  If you track your food as you move through your day, it will also be much more accurate!

Eat only foods you can really track

If this means you avoid a restaurant because you do not have the nutrition information, so be it.  You want to be accurate with your food tracking, so make it a policy to eat only what you can intelligently measure in terms of calories.  MyFitnessPal has a large nutritional data base, but you won’t be able to accurately document your chicken parmesan from your favorite local Italian restaurant.  You will be guessing on the calories, and this is to be avoided.

Get a good digital scale 

Ok, you hate weighing your food, I know.  But the reality check here is that you don’t need to do it often.  For instance, I started tracking my food today, and weighed my portion of peanuts.  The label stated that 1 oz. of peanuts was 160 calories.  I knew I was not going to eat that many of my calories as peanuts, so I weighed out 1/4 oz.  I counted the peanuts as roughly 15, so now I know what a reasonable portion is for me.  Another point, leave the scale on the counter to remind you to use it!

Moving around help

Yes, exercise is great, but if you cannot exercise, that is not an excuse for not losing weight.  Exercise aids weight loss both in the short and long-term, but you can so undermine your gym time by not paying attention to what you put into your mouth.

No one ever said it was easy to lose weight.  Like anything important, it takes some effort and concentration.  With that stated, I believe anyone can lose weight, you simply need the right tools and commitment.

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5 Tips to Trim Thanksgiving and Trim You Too!

Turkey Dinner

Healthier Thanksgiving menu

With Thanksgiving around the corner, here are 5 simple ideas to trim your calorie count on Thanksgiving without feeling like you gave up your favorite holiday foods. If you keep in mind that most of the calories are lurking in hidden fats in your meal, you can eat slightly larger amounts of other foods, and not worry about adding another notch to your belt or wearing stretch pants for the rest of the week.

Turkey

Turkey is a lean meat. Just watch your portion size and keep in mind that a normal serving size looks like a checkbook or deck of cards. Skip the extra fatty gravy (or make your own low-fat gravy), and avoid eating the skin.  And, don’t be afraid to experiment with some of the packaged dry gravy options.  They have virtually no fat, and I have never had a guest complain about these types of gravy!

Stuffing

Avoid stuffing the dressing inside the turkey cavity. When you cook the stuffing in the turkey, you are adding more fat by virtue of turkey drippings. Dish out fewer calories and lower the overall fat content of your stuffing just by baking in a separate casserole dish.

Potatoes

Why not make your mashed potatoes with skim milk, fat-free sour cream, or broth? All these options will slash your fat and calories if making from scratch! If you order the potatoes from carry out or a restaurant, chances are they are loaded with both fat and sodium.

Alcohol

Choose a light beer, champagne, or dry wine.These are all lower calorie options to toast the November holiday.

Pumpkin pie

Have you considered a crustless version? Or, have one with crust and be the sneaky one eating the crustless version. Virtually all of the fat and calories end up in the crust, and the rest of the pie is full of health enhancing beta-carotene, fiber, and protein. Cut the sugar slightly and cut the calories more.

Here’s my recipe!

Do you have other tips for a healthy holiday dinner? Have a very happy Thanksgiving.

B12 for Weight Loss: Is this Bunk/Junk Science?

B12 shots for weight lossLast evening the topic in my college nutrition class was vitamins. As we came to the topic of vitamin B12, several students inquired about B12 for weight loss. One student said her former pediatrician suggested she take B12 to help with weight loss. Several students in other course sections asked repeated questions about B12 shots for weight loss.

I must admit I was stumped as to why they would even ask about this. THEN, the spa Groupon email came this morning advertising B12 shots. The Groupon ad suggests B12 injections as an additional therapy for boosting energy and the body’s metabolism for those looking to lose weight.  The price: a mere $69.00 for 12 vitamin B12 injections. This was a major savings from the original hefty retail value of $480.00! This all begs the question as to if there is any benefit to B12 injections for weight loss.

B12 injection benefits?

We do like to take pills and look for magical methods to lose weight easily. Unfortunately, I would have to say this is just another one of those gimmicks. I can find no sound scientific basis for suggesting additional B12 from supplements or injections to aid in weight loss. If someone is tired from anemia due to a B12 deficiency (called pernicious anemia), then administration of B12 will indeed give that person more energy because the person needs the B12 to treat that specific type of anemia. But, for the rest of us, that B12 will neither give us more energy or boost our metabolism.

There are ways to boost one’s metabolism, but chowing down on more B vitamins or injecting them is not a way to raise our metabolic rate. We get energy from the calories in our foods and resting our bodies. B vitamins do not give us energy, they are needed in small amounts to help the biochemical reactions that occur in our bodies to release energy from foods-that gives us energy!

B12 and meat consumption

Most people who eat animal protein are getting more than sufficient amounts of B12.  B12 is derived from animal protein, and since many Americans eat more protein than recommended, B12 is not usually an issue. For vegans, it may be necessary to take a B12 supplement to meet requirements. However, many foods are fortified with B12 (such as cereals which may have 100% of B12 requirements provided in a single serving) so not all vegans would necessarily need to be taking a supplemental form of B12.

Have you tried B12 shots for weight loss? Did you see any benefit? Right now over 200 Groupon deals have been sold!

Is this a waste of money or helpful for your waistline?