This is the time of year that everyone is making New Year’s resolutions and going on various diets. I’ve been on every diet on the planet, but what really works is not dieting but adopting lifelong eating habits that focus on food that is good for you, and giving yourself the okay to splurge every once and a while. And, there is something about telling yourself that you’re on a diet that just makes you want to eat what you’re not allowed to eat. A few of my friends have mentioned they are on diets right now and looking to slim down and hence why I thought I would share- these are principles that have worked for me to stay within range of my goal weight and feeling good about my food choices. And, what I love about grilling is that it is a great way to eat lean protein and veggies! #winning!
Many of you guys may not know this but I’m really into nutrition. I wanted to study nutrition in college but I couldn’t do all that organic chemistry so I focused on my other love, writing. But, needless to say, I’ve done a LOT of research on food and nutrition over the years. I abide by the basic principles of Paleo but am not super strict about it- I just try to make smart choices and read labels and know what is in the food I am putting in my body. If you want to learn more about making smarter food choices for better health, I HIGHLY recommend you check out the book “It starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, this book is the foundation for the popular “Whole 30”, Paleo way of eating.
1: Cut Out Bread, Replace with Veggies or Protein
This goes without saying but bread is just a vehicle for loading up on empty calories. When you go to a restaurant, the bread basket is going to come out. If you are super hungry, be prepared and order a dinner salad so you can fill up on veggies instead of bread. Plus, bleached flour is void of any nutritional value- AND, is has that fun ingredient- GLUTEN! Why is gluten bad? Well, for one thing, people get WAY too much of it in their diet. And, another reason- it causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the body over time outcrops as disease and chronic issues like arthritis. The fact of the matter is that the wheat used in today’s flour doesn’t begin to resemble the wheat of 1000 years ago- it has been genetically modified to all hell, and modified so that you always want more!
2: Swap Soda for Water or No Calorie Beverages
If you are drinking fruit juice or soda- you are getting a ton of extra empty calories. Swap these for soda water. Yes, water can get boring so get creative and make tea with stevia at home or add those True Lime packets to your water, they even make pitcher size available now.
3: Swap Starches for Veggies and Protein
Rice, pasta, potatoes- all tasty but lots of extra calories and not super nutrient dense. Plus, they will not fill you up like protein. These days it’s easy to swap rice for cauliflower rice, pasta for “zoodles”, ie, zucchini noodles or even pizza crust for cauliflower crust. Trader Joes sells cauliflower pizza crusts and now all grocery stores offer cauliflower rice you can easily heat up in the microwave. With the invention of the spiralizer (an easy way to take veggies and turn them into “noodles”), swapping starches for veggies has never been easier. Grocery stores now even sell spiralized veggies in the produce section.
When snacking, opt for something high in protein that is going to fill you up, versus a sugar, carb laden snack that will just make you want more. Ie: when you’re at a party you can choose to stand next to the chips and dip, the shrimp cocktail, or the veggie tray. Stand near the cocktail shrimp and the veggies- calorie for calorie, the protein will fill you up- the Mexican bean dip and chips will NOT and they have a ton more calories to boot! (PS, just so you know, when I’ve been drinking I’m the WORST offender for eating everything I would never normally eat when sober! Just ask me about Christmas lol!, but I digress…)
4: Swap Healthy Fats for Unhealthy Fats
Remember the 90’s when the low fat craze hit? It was a marketer’s dream, they cut the fat out of foods and loaded them up on sugar instead. Well, we now know that fat is not bad for you, in fact your body NEEDS fat to function. But not all fats are created equal! Look for healthy fats that occur naturally such as avocados, olive oil, fats from grassfed beef and butter, nuts and eggs and stay away from fats found in processed food like hydrogenated soybean oil. These type fats are bad for you as they often come from genetically modified ingredients (ie, this means you are also most likely ingesting the pesticides used to produce them) as well as the fact that they have been pumped with hydrogen to maintain shelf life- these fats are not meant for consumption by the human body in this form and cause free radicals in the body… The bottom line is you are better off eating butter than margarine which is man made.
5: Check for Sugar Hidden in Your Diet – Replace with Real Food
High fructose corn syrup is hidden in everything- from salad dressing to fruit juice. Make a point to read labels and cut this unnecessary ingredient out of your diet and your body and waistline will thank you! This means doing things like making your own salad dressing or being more conscious about eating processed food. Even swapping things like apple juice with REAL apples!
At the end of the day, you can easily slim down by being conscious of your food choices and eliminating processed foods. This is harder than it sounds as processed food is everywhere but reading labels is a great way to start! If you check out my site, you’ll see there are a lot of Paleo friendly recipes you can make that are tasty and guilt free! Cheers to a happy and Healthy 2018!