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How to Streamline Your Week Nights: Sunday Meal Prep

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Yesterday, Brian and I started off the morning pumping iron at the gym.  Brian went through my chest and back workout with me, and it was so great!  I don’t mind working out on my own, but I feel a different level of intensity when I am working with someone else, I have the ability to push myself that much harder.

While I love working out, and enjoy it as a hobby, Brian doesn’t have the same feeling about heading to the gym.  He is a great sport and has run two races with me, allows me to take him through workouts, and puts up with all of group fitness class planning, training, and everything else that I put into my fitness obsession.

When Brian told me that he would head to the gym with me, I was so excited because I honestly felt as if it were a new way for us to bond.  Overall, he did an amazing job and we both challenged each other…but I think that we will make things a little harder next time 😉

Lunch

After our workout, we headed to church and then to lunch at Panera with my sister.  Boy, do I love Panera!  Today, despite the 100 degree heat, I opted for the you pick two with blackbean soup and the Thai chopped chicken salad (minus the fried wonton strips, the chicken, and dressing  but with extra edamame added…boy am I difficult!)  It was great to see my sister, because even though we live close,  I don’t see her nearly enough.

After lunch and chatting about an upcoming family vacation to Florida Brian and I headed to the store to purchase some groceries for the week.  After the grocery, it was time to prep my meals for the week.  I swear, each week I get faster and faster at the process.

Sunday Meal Prep

Getting ready to roast some veggies

It helps that Brian was my partner in crime and assisted me in prepping our food.

Since I began working full-time in addition to teaching group fitness classes throughout the week, I realized that coming home at 6pm, preparing dinner, packing lunch for Brian and I, preparing for my group fitness classes, and doing whatever else comes up for the day didn’t leave me with very much time for spending time with Brian, or just spending time taking a break.

I have found that prepping my food on Sunday is the only way that I can not spend 3 hours in the kitchen when I get home from work at 6pm.  So, I designated Sundays as my food prep and grocery day.  Two things that I absolutely love to do, but when I am short on time….they can seem more like chores and the joy is taken out of the activities.

The foods that I prep on Sundays (and maybe a bit on Saturdays) are:

  • On the Go Breakfast Biscuits:  these are great to throw in a little plastic container to eat after teaching one of my group fitness classes at my desk at work.  I think they are even great cold, and they do not take long to bake up at all.

  • Roasted vegetables and/or sweet potatoes: I use the same method for both of these.  I simply chop them into the desired size and shape, spritz the pan with nonstick cooking spray, and toss the veggies in garlic salt.  I then place them in the oven on 400 degrees for around 20 minutes, and stir them up at the halfway point. It is so simple and delicious, and these taste great heated or cold as well!

  • Baked Oatmeal:  I make these little oat cakes in various flavors by simply adding various fruits, or no fruit at all!  I store them in the fridge and incorporate them into my breakfasts throughout the week either eating them on their own, mixing them with Greek yogurt to make a little parfait, or topping a smoothie bowl.

  • Barley, quinoa, or brown rice:  These are great to make a large batch of because they can be easily heated up and doctored up as a side dish, or made into a little salad by simply adding protein and veggies.
  • Chopping up veggies that I like to eat raw for lunches:  It is so simple and easy to grab the amount of veggies you want and stick them in a baggie to toss in the lunch box, and if you decide you want to cook them up for a meal later in the week, they are already bite sized!

I find that prepping these simple foods on the weekend completely streamlines my week.  I truly enjoy eating foods that I have prepared, and it takes a lot of time to prepare them…but one thing to remember is that it is not impossible.  All that it takes is a little bit of pre-planning, and maybe a little bit of help from your partner in crime (thanks Brian!) 😉  Of course everything doesn’t always go as planned, but if you have a plan for the healthy meals that you want to eat for the week, and the foods are readily available than there are no excuses between you and your healthy, delicious, satisfying meals!

 

What do you do to streamline your week night routine??  Do you prep most of your meals on one night?

I Found My Inspiration

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Last night after Body Pump, I was parched, but I could not find my water bottle anywhere…luckily I have a backup.  When I got in the car to head to the gym to teach this morning, I figured out where I left my bottle…

I would rather be safe than sorry, thank goodness for double water bottles.

We then had an amazingly sweaty workout session.  Seriously, this workout was hard, but it felt good.  It was the kind of hard where you have to talk yourself into finishing, and at the end you are so glad you did.  Literally, I was drenched by the end.

Here is what we did in our second round of Cardio Intervals:

Running Inspiration

As soon as I got home, I switched my top (yeah, I was that sweaty), and headed out for my 7 mile run.  Yes it was the first time this week that I went for a run, but I was feeling good.

The run started out pretty slow.  I decided to go downtown and run through the city, so there was a lot of stopping at stop lights, going up and down streets trying to avoid stop lights, and basically I wasn’t really pushing myself.  At the beginning of the run, I honestly thought to myself

“Just log the miles…”

Then I saw her.  My running inspiration.  She didn’t look over the top fit, she didn’t have amazingly long legs, but she was taking long strides, she looked confidant and like she was enjoying every step that she took.

In that instant, I changed my mindset of “trying to log the miles” into “I want to challenge myself, and enjoy this run!”  My short, quick steps turned into (what felt like) long, luxurious strides.  I sang along with my ipod, looked around the people walking through the city, and the next thing I knew, my run was finished.  I felt great, accomplished, even more sweaty than when I started, and satisfied.

Sometimes it is easy to forget why we do what we do.  No one MADE me go on that run at 8:30 this morning, I wanted to go, so why shouldn’t I enjoy every second of it?  I am so glad that I found my inspiration.

Today’s run:  7 miles with an 8:53 pace.  16 seconds per minute quicker than last time.

After stretching, I then made myself a delicious Pineapple Banana Smoothie, and I drank it as Brian and I layed by the pool 😉

Pineapple Banana Smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup Almond Breeze unsweetened almond coconut milk
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder
  • 1/4 cup nonfat Chobani plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • ice cubes and water to desired consistency

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into your favorite cup and enjoy!

Nutrition:

Calories:   246.3  Fat:   2.9g  Carbs:   38.6g  Protein:   20.6g

The protein powder and the Greek yogurt give this smoothie a protein punch to aid in muscle recovery after a hard workout.

Brian and I relaxing in the morning sun

I hope you all have a great Thursday in preparation for the long weekend, and basically the first weekend of summer!

Question of the Morning:

  • What was your workout today?

What Do You Eat After?

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Hey Team!

That is what I call my group fitness classes 😉  Today, I am in total Group Fitness mode!  I am teaching three classes today at three different facilities.   Luckily, I have had several hours between each class, so I am not rushing around.

I taught Pilates at noon, and did a quicky arm workout afterwards.  Whenever I teach during a meal time, I feel like it kind of throws my eating schedule out of wack a little bit.

I knew that I needed to eat lunch afterward, but I wasn’t really craving anything.  My mom had the great idea of eggs…perfect!  So, I sauteed some broccoli, cauliflower, and onion in water.  I then added in 4 egg whites and a slice of pepper jack cheese to give the eggs a little spicy kick.  Once they were cooked all the way through, I topped the eggs with a little bit of salsa.

It is important to eat a good balance of carbohydrates and protein after a workout.  The veggies provided me with carbs and the egg whites and cheese provided me with protein.

While I was eating, I decided to do a little research on some more post-workout meal/snack ideas and I found a great article on the ACE Certified Professionals archives.

Some of ACE’s post-workout meals included:

  • Graham crackers, peanut butter, and chocolate milk–Nancy Clark MS, RD, CSSD submitted this idea because the carbs from the graham crackers and chocolate milk refuel the muscles, while the protein from the peanut butter and the chocolate milk aid in muscle repair.
  • Yogurt, an orange, and red bell pepper–Suggested by The Nutrition Twins, these are easy to grab and eat on the go when doing a workout midday, or when on the run.  The orange and bell pepper are high in water, which helps to rehydrate after an intense sweat session.  The yogurt provides the carbs needed for refueling and the protein needed for the repairing and rebuilding of muscles.  The calcium and potassium in the yogurt also help to eliminate muscle cramping.
  • Smoothie made of plain nonfat yogurt, pineapple, mango, cinnamon and toasted wheat germ–Emily Ann Miller MPH, RD suggested this tasty treat because of the rehydrating properties of the fruit, the carbohydrates from the fruit and the yogurt, and the protein from the yogurt…everything that your body needs post-workout.

Question of the Afternoon:

  • What are some of your favorite post-workout snacks?

I love smoothies, homemade protein bars, and overnight oats made with a bit of Greek yogurt and protein powder.

Chocolate Coconut Water Love

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After teaching spin, doing a bit of a shoulder, workout, and calling my new boss so that I could find out details of my new job (I start next Tuesday!) it was time for lunch.

Sometimes, I feel like I could go through I head of lettuce in two days, other times it takes me a bit longer.  When I was home not too long ago, my mom gave me some artisan lettuce as a special treat.  While I have not been skimping on using the lettuce, somehow I still have it!  So, I cleaned it up, and made myself a delicious salad full of cauliflower, onion, broccoli, celery, and tuna topped with a combination of homemade hummus and salsa.

Lately, I have been absolutely loving the combination of salsa and hummus as a salad dressing.  It is slightly spicy, and the hummus adds a nice creaminess.  Delish! 😉

New Obsession

When I went grocery shopping for the week, I purchased myself a little treat.  Zico Chocolate Coconut water.  I had tried the original coconut water and loved it, but heard rave reviews about the chocolate.  To be honest, I was a little nervous about trying it because I like the original so much, but as soon as I tried it I was in LOVE!

It is seriously delicious, and oddly tastes kind of like chocolate milk.  When I tried it on Saturday, I immediately got the urge to experiment with it…so I made a smoothie.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Coconut Water Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup Zico Chocolate Coconut Water
  • 1/3 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 handful of kale (spinach will work fine too, or you can omit!)
  • 1 Tbsp of natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 packet of splenda
  • 4 ice cubes
  • a splash of regular water (as needed)

Combine all ingredients in the blender and enjoy!!  Seriously, this is one delicious, sweet, nutritious treat 🙂

Group Fitness and It Tastes Like a Frappe!!

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I started out this morning teaching a Cardio Intervals group fitness class.

When it comes to creating a group fitness routine, at first, it can seem a bit overwhelming because there are literally endless possibilities of what the class can do.  I find that things work best when I keep the routine simple but effective and think about what I like to achieve while I am in a group fitness class.

What I look for in a group fitness class:

  • An all-inclusive workout, I don’t want to feel that I barely broke a sweat and I need to hop on the elliptical or lift weights after the class…Believe me, I have been there.
  • Fun and motivating atmosphere.  I like to truly feel like a team when I am in a group fitness class, and that we are all working together to complete the same challenge.
  • Guidance, if I am not sure of a move, if I feel a different muscle working than the one that is described to me, or if I have a question I want to feel comfortable asking my instructor a question.

Today’s workout really challenged the participants.  They were sweating by the second round, but we were all able to power through and finish the workout together.  What a great way to start the morning 🙂

Breakfast

While driving home, I decided that I really wanted something cold and creamy…kind of like a frappuccino. But instead of pulling into the nearest coffee chop and paying a million dollars for it, I got creative in the kitchen and made a homemade healthier version.

A couple of years ago, Starbucks had a coconut mocha frappuccino.  I think it was probably my favorite, but of course it was a limited time only flavor…luckily I figured out how to make it myself!

Healthified Coconut Mocha “Frappe” Swap

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cooled coffee
  • 1/4 unsweetened almond coconut Almond Breeze
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • 1/3 frozen banana
  • 4 ice cubes
  • water until it is the desired consistency (you may not need to add any!)
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend away!  Enjoy  in a cup or a bowl 🙂

Nutrition:

Calories:  159.9  Fat:  5.9g  Carbs:  12.8g  Protein:  16.5g

I thought that it had the perfect amount of coconutty flavor, and the actual shredded pieces of coconut gave it a nice texture.  I will definitely be making this treat again.

I enjoyed my “frappe” along side some egg whites and salsa.

I hope you all have an amazing and productive Thursday!

Of Possible Interest:

 

Freestyle vs. Choreographed

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Good afternoon friends!

Today’s lunch used up some sweet potato that was on it’s last leg.  I couldn’t let it go to waste, but it was super simple to cook up.

Baked Sweet Potato

  1. First rinse off the sweet potato and cut it into whatever shapes you want.  I opted for rounds, but you do sticks, or a mixture of both!
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Place the sweet potato on a greased baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle the sweet potato with your desired seasoning (seasoned salt, salt and pepper, garlic salt, cinnamon, etc)
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping them over at the halfway point.
  6. Once they are done, you can enjoy them immediately as “sweet potato fries” and dip them in your favorite dip (honey mustard, ketchup, ranch…) you can also enjoy them warm in your salad (like I did today) or you can even store them in the fridge for a snack or for  meal at a later date.

I enjoyed my baked sweet potato on top of a bed of greens with tomato, onion, celery, bell pepper, baked tofu, and balsamic vinegar.  Tasty if you ask me!

Planning My Workout Class

I spent the majority of my morning planning out a new-to-me class that I am teaching tomorrow called Yoga Sculpt.  This is a vinyasa based yoga class that incorporates strength training into traditional yoga poses to improve mind-body balance, body composition, and overall fitness.  I was given an outline to follow as far as what needs to be included in the class, but then it was my job to fill in the blanks.

I typed up my lesson plan, but unfortunately there isn’t a library of stick men in yoga poses, so I had to draw those little guys out.  That task is a lot harder than you think…how would you draw a stickman doing bicep curls in tree pose?

It was fun planning this class out for me, but it definitely took me a little bit to get into the mode.  I feel like I have been Body Pumping it out so much lately along with teaching the spinning classes that I used on the cruise ship that I haven’t really had to think up a group fitness class.  After I got into the groove, though, it was just like riding a bike and the exercise ideas began to flow like water.

There are two basic formats of group fitness:  Pre-Choreographed (like Les Mills and Zumba) and Freestyle (which are things like boot camp, core classes, circuit training, etc).  I can honestly say that I truly enjoy both formats.  I feel like there is definitely a time and a place for each option and, for me, it is good to keep both formats in my repertoire.

Question of the Afternoon:

  • If you attend group fitness classes, do you prefer pre-choreographed or freestyle?  Did you even know there was a difference?

 

Not as Good as it Looks

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Happy Tuesday morning.

Tuesdays I teach my early morning spinning class, and this week I begin teaching more of my very own classes on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  In order to kick-off summer I decided to have a little contest.

I am calling the contest the Super Summer Slimdown, and the way it works is that when someone attends a class, starting this week, they get to input their name in the jar for their class.  Then, during the first week of summer, the week of June 18, I will draw a name from the jar to win a fitness goody bag!  So, the more classes you attend, the better your chances are for winning. I always love looking for fun ways to spice up my group fitness classes, and celebrating summer seemed like the perfect idea.

Breakfast

When I got home from spinning, I was really looking forward to some protein pancakes.  I had never made them before, but after reading several different recipes I thought it would be pretty easy to figure out a good combination of ingredients…well I think I was wrong.

The texture of the pancakes was fine, they cooked up nicely, but the flavor was simply off, which was kind of frustrating and unexpected since they looked so good and tasty!  Honestly, I think it is because I have been using a protein powder that I cannot stand the taste of simply because I hate wasting things, and usually I am pretty good about being able to eat something even though it may not be my favorite….that was not the case with these pancakes.

I am still going to play around a bit in the kitchen to see if I can figure out where the heck I went wrong…but I think I may just need to suck it up and buy new protein powder…that I can actually stomach.

Questions of the Morning:

  • What do you look for in a group fitness class?  What keeps you coming back for more?
  • What is your favorite kind of protein powder??

Sweet Potato Pie Breakfast

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This morning was another early start because I began teaching my own spinning class this morning.  That’s right, my own.  Finally, I am not just subbing for another instructor…this is my class and I can do what I want with it!  I am so excited 🙂

Because I knew I was going to lift some weights and run a couple of errands after spin, I knew it would be in my best interest to eat breakfast before the class, so last night I prepped a batch of overnight oats with a new-to-me ingredient….sweet potatoes.

Last night I mixed:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 oz of sweet potato baby food
  • 1 scoop vanilla Plant Fusion protein powder
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • stevia powder

This morning I added 1 tablespoon of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and 1/3 of a banana.  These oats were delicious and reminded me of sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving.  Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene which is good for your eyes, skin, and immune system and vitamin A.

I had plenty of energy without feeling too full for my spinning class.  I simply ate them early enough to allow about an hour for digestion.

Workout

After spin, I lifted weights focusing on my arms.

Hammer Curls:

Source

Tricep Dips:

Source

Bicep Curls with Barbell:

Source

Tricep Extension:

Source

This is the perfect workout to do either right before or right after your cardio session.  The whole set of exercises takes between 20 and 30 minutes, but the supersetting  of exercises definitely saves time.

Hitting the Road

Later today, Brian and I are heading to Fort Wayne for a fun and unique opportunity…here is a hint as to what I will be up to tomorrow morning.

Have a great Tuesday!

Picky About My Equipment

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Yesterday evening I did something fun and unique…

I sang the National Anthem at an Indiana ICE hockey game.  In high school, me and my group of friends called ourselves the Lemon Sistas and sang at nearly every sporting event that needed the National Anthem in high school.  We also sang at churches and events throughout the community.  Even with all of that experience singing The Star Spangled Banner, I realized last night that this was my first  time singing at a sporting even alone.

It was an excellent experience!  I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous about slipping on the ice, but once I was out there everything was fine.  As I was singing the lyrics though, I started to think about the words too much, and realized how easy it really could be for someone to forget the words to a song we all know so well.  Luckily, I didn’t leave any words out 😉

Dinner

Last night, I made Brian his birthday dinner because tonight (his actual birthday) we are going to to eat with his parents.  Brian never really craves certain foods, or offers much input while I make the menu and grocery list for the week, but when I suggested salmon for his special meal he was quick to agree!

My mom had a salmon rub at one point (literally years ago) that had a touch of cinnamon in it, but it was sooo delicious.  The hint of cinnamon mixed with the salmon simply complimented so well and made for a flavorful dish.  Last night,  I tied to recreate that rub:

Cinnamony Salmon Spice Rub

Simply combine all ingredients in a bowl and rub onto the salmon before baking.

  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Ground Red Pepper

I am not quite sure of the measurements because I just started mixing and pouring and tasting, and when it finally tasted good to me, I rubbed it on the fish.  No oil needed! 

Served with asparagus, my favorite springtime veggie, this meal hit the birthday spot.

Workout

Today, I revisited an old friend, the elliptical.

source

In my college days, the elliptical was my go-to.  Since I have graduated, I have been much more involved in running outdoors, and spinning when it comes to cardio.  It was nice to zone out on the elliptical for 20 minutes before I lifted some weights doing my 4 move shoulder routine, but I must say I am a bit picky when it comes to elliptical selection.

I like to be able to move forward and backward and change the incline and resistance myself so that I can create a little routine.  This machine, however, shut off whenever I switched directions or resistance, and I couldn’t adjust the incline.  At least I got a little sweaty 😉

Breakfast

For breakfast this morning, I tried something new for the second time, and both times it just hasn’t turned out the way I expected it to.

I have been trying to make Make-Ahead Oatmeal Smoothies, and they are just turning out really runny….and I know why.  It is because I am not using chia seeds.  I thought I could get away with it, I even tried to use hemp seeds instead….and it just isn’t cutting it.  The chia seeds absorb liquid and create a gel like substance, so they are great as thickening agents in these overnight concoctions, but without it…they simply get runny.  Looks like I am going to have to invest in some chia seeds…soon!

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday!  I will be spending the day on the golf course with the Maestro Open for the Indianapolis Symphony…hopefully the weather holds out!

Question of the Morning:

  • Are you picky about your exercise equipment?
  • What do you do to get your cardio in?  Run outside, bike, elliptical, walk, group exercise???

 

Secretly Bad For You???

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Yesterday, as soon as I got home from volunteering, I headed out for a 3.5 mile run.  The run was originally scheduled the day before, but it was raining pretty hard so I decided to postpone it for a day.  It wasn’t my fastest time.  Although I wasn’t sore directly after the Body Pump training weekend, I think that my muscles are definitely fatigued and not able to work as hard this week…but I am pushing through!

I then came in to cool down and bake some cookies for the women I am volunteering with at the Symphony.  The event that they are coordinating is this coming Monday, so Friday (tomorrow) is really their last day to get all of the loose ends tied up and I thought some Oatmeal Raisin cookies would help them power through 😉

And before heading to church choir practice I quickly stopped at Target to pick up some red workout gear.  The colors of Body Pump are red and black, and while you aren’t required to wear the Les Mills clothing or even red and black it helps to be in “the essence” (that is what my trainers called it).  And I totally agree!  When I think of putting on special clothes to teach Body Pump, it is almost like putting a costume on for show choir.  I am able to get in the zone, and it just wouldn’t be the same without it 🙂

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to try the clothes on and the shorts were just too baggy.  Not exactly the look I am going for.  Looks like I will have to return them!

 

Breakfast

After team teaching my second Body Pump class this morning, I was more than ready for breakfast and luckily had a bowl of overnight oats with y name written all over it.

 

 

10 Foods that Are Making You Fat

Yesterday, Brian sent me a link to an article on Cha Cha about 10 foods that are secretly making it hard for us to lose weight. I thought this article was particularly interesting because for me, I think about this kind of thing all the time and try to always be aware of what I am putting in my body, but Brian pointed out to me that not everyone thinks like that and may not realize the harm in some of these foods.  So, here is the list with a little bit of my own insight about how to stay in the safe zone!

1.  Salad Dressing–Many people are aware that the creamy dressings pack on a lot of fat and calories (sometimes making your salad choice worse than a burger!), but we also have to be careful when it comes to dressings that may seem lighter like Italian and Balsamic Vinaigrette.  When using dressings at home, it is always best to measure out your portion sizes according to the label so that you know exactly what you are getting.

  • Salad Dressing Alternatives–Using simply vinegar along with salt, pepper, garlic, and spices of your choice is always a great option…and has almost no calories!  Mixing vinegar with a tablespoon of hummus or using salsa are some other great alternatives that packs a lot of flavor.

2.  Mayonnaise–Only one tablespoon of this creamy sauce has 90 calories, not to mention the fact that there are a lot of processed ingredients usually used to make the dressing.  On a sandwich, try subbing mustard or a small amount of avocado (1 Tablespoon).  If you are making tuna or chicken salad, sub non or lowfat plain Greek yogurt.  You will lower the number of calories and boost up the amount of protein in your meal.

  • Mayo Alternative–Small amount of avocado or mustard on a sandwich.  Lowfat or nonfat Greek yogurt in tuna, chicken, or potato salads.

3.  White Bread–When it comes to choosing white bread versus whole grain or whole wheat bread, you always want to choose the whole grain/wheat.  White bread is what we can call a fast releasing carbohydrate due to the way the body processes the food.  When the body processes fast releasing carbohydrates it causes a big spike in the blood sugar levels causing the body to release more insulin.  After a lifetime of these blood sugar spikes and your body not utilizing this excess sugar, a person could eventually develop diabetes and this excess sugar is stored in the body as fat.  Without getting too in depth (there is a lot that goes into the way our body processes carbohydrates)

  • White Bread Alternative–whole grain or whole wheat bread

4.  Regular Soda–One can of regular soda has around 150 calories.  If someone were to drink one can of soda a day, that would be over 1,000 calories added to your diet!  By simply cutting out this drink and replacing it with water, you will lower your sugar and caloric intake greatly.

  • Regular Soda Alternative–sparkling water with a splash of 100% cranberry juice with a squeeze of fresh lime, or just plain water!

5.  Ketchup–Ketchup is LOADED with sugar, with around 8g of sugar in only 2 tablespoons of this condiment.  With this sauce, really watch portion sizes and limit your consumption to every once in a while.

  • Ketchup Alternative–salsa, plain tomato sauce, or just limit your portion sizes.

6.  Artificial Sweeteners–There is a lot to be said about artificial sweeteners.  The article by Cha Cha points out the fact that artificial sweeteners are not satisfying to our bodies that want the “real thing” leaving us craving and eating more in order to feel “satisfied.”  There is also a lot of research about the chemical effects of these artificial substances in our bodies.  When it comes down to it, it is always best to be as natural as possible.  And simply because a box says “all natural ingredients” doesn’t mean that the ingredients are actually natural.  We need to actually read the label, and research any ingredients we may not be familiar with.

  • Artificial Sweetener Alternatives–Stevia (to date) is one of the safest sugar alternatives.  Some low glycemic sweeteners that are great alternatives are agave nectar and palm sugar.

7.  Restaurants--This article notes that most foods at restaurants are cooked in butter or grease.  Salads are served with more than a regular portion size of high fat nuts, cheeses, dried fruits, and salad dressings.  Trying to stay healthy, but enjoying a meal at a restaurant can seem like two conflicting tasks, but don’t worry…you can eat healthy and enjoy dining out at the same time 🙂

  • Restaurant dining tips–always check out nutrition information online before heading out to the restaurant so that you can be informed when you make your order. Ask for sauces on the side so that you can control the amount you put on your dish.  Have 3/4 of your plate full of veggies and a portion of protein that is the same size and width as your own palm.  Avoid the bread basket, and don’t be afraid to make special requests (like asking for your broccoli to be steamed instead of cooked in butter 😉 )

8.  Chicken Tenders–Another thing that the article makes note of is that a lot of people think that simply because something is chicken, it is automatically healthy…which is not the case.  Chicken tenders are almost always fried and served with high calorie dipping sauces.  When dining out, opt for grilled chicken or make your own “healthified” tenders at home.

  • Chicken Tenders Alternative–Use organic, free range, boneless, skinless chicken breasts dipped in egg whites and coated in almond meal to bake up your own chicken tenders as a substitute option for high fat, fried chicken tenders.

9.  Specialty Coffee Drinks–We all love a good latte or icy coffee drink every once in a while, but they can pack on a lot of fat, sugar, and calories.  Try to make drinks like this a special treat and enjoy them only every once in a while.  Not only will you save calories, but you will save money too!

  • Specialty Coffee Drink Ordering Tips–Only get these fancy drinks as a special treat, ask for no whipped cream, opt for skim or lowfat milk, and order the smallest size.

10.  Cheese–Cheese isn’t necessarily bad for you, but it is another food where we need to watch our portion sizes.  It is always best to choose a lower fat option rather than a full fat or no fat.  The no fat options tend to have some chemicals in place of the fat to help with the consistency and the flavor, and our body needs fat to process fat…so low-fat is the better option.

  • Cheese Alternatives–Simply watch your portion sizes on this one and opt for low fat options.

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What are some of your favorite tips for healthy eating and watching portion sizes?