Mar 112014
 

spring1

SPRING IS HERE!

Well, almost I guess. The spring rains have arrived here in Oregon and the flowers are starting to poke up above the muddy ground and bloom. Crocus flowers are one of my favorites. With spring here and the drive to clean things up, why not start with the diet? It’s a good time of year to ease into weight loss–the pressure of New Year’s Resolutions is come and gone and it’s much easier to focus on change when the prospect of summer is upon us! Spring Clean your diet with some of these tips:

Cut Out The Sugars

If you struggle with sugar like I do, then perhaps taking a break from eating candy and sugary-treats is a good idea. It’s a good idea for me! An easy way to cut out sugar from the diet is to eat natural, whole foods like fruits and vegetables. There’s sugar in so many things–even your salad dressings, ketchup, lots of things you’d never even suspect have sugar. A way to cut out sugar is to substitute fruit when you’re craving something sweet. Often times a sweet, juicy orange or a bowl of blueberries is just what you need for that craving. The other day I had a banana with a little whipped cream on top for dessert. It was 100 calories and totally satisfied my sweet tooth!

Add More Veggies

Read this post about how to get more veggies in your diet. The short version: try adding roasted vegetables to your dinners and healthy green salads to lunches. Even if you do this just a few times a week, you will feel the difference. Spring is also a good time to check out your local Farmer’s Market. I love the local markets here in Portland. It makes me feel good to support local, small farmers and you know their vegetables aren’t super GMO creations.

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GARDEN1

This is also the time of year that Michael and I start cleaning up our raised garden beds. We get things ready for a spring crop of lettuce and kale. Growing our own kale is fantastic. It’s so healthy for you. And kale chips are pretty tasty, too. ;)

Try Healthier Grains and Starches

Instead of white rice, try brown rice or quinoa. Instead of white potatoes, have a yam or sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are so healthy and much more satisfying to me! Instead of pasta, try spaghetti squash. It really does work as “spaghetti”! What about trying lentils instead of rice or pasta? Lentilles au Vin Blanc is a good one.

Challenge Yourself

How about trying something new? Like giving up bread for a month, or going dairy-free. Even going meatless one day a week can sometimes jump start healthy eating habits. I don’t know about you, but when spring arrives I get an overwhelming desire to IMPROVE. Everything — my diet, clean the house, de-clutter my life…What about trying a new recipe? Shaved Brussels Sprout SaladSouthwest Quinoa Salad to name a few.

Spring Clean Your Kitchen

This is the time of year I want to purge all the stuff in my pantry that’s been there forever. If I haven’t eaten it over the winter and I don’t plan on eating it anytime soon, I donate it. I do this about twice a year. Toss the junk food. If it’s not in your house you won’t be tempted!! Trust me, this works! I do so much better with my diet when I don’t have the sweets and trigger foods in my house.

Do you do any Spring Cleaning?

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Jan 282014
 

oldpants

I previously wrote a post called Tips and Tricks I’ve Learned sharing some of the things that have helped me to lose 110 pounds and keep it off. Things like keeping a gym bag in the car at all times is a huge thing for me. Also, going straight to the gym after work. Stopping home first makes it so much harder to leave again. Since we got Bella, I usually go home right after work because we have to let her out after being crated for 8 hours. :( Going home has been a challenge for sure. I noticed that it took a million times more motivation to make myself go back out of the house once I was home. Especially when I wanted to just play with Bella instead! What helped with this scenario was to let Bella outside the second I get home and then immediately change into my workout clothes. Taking a moment to do that meant I was going to the gym. Period. I put my workout clothes on, it was gonna happen!

Tackling the exercise part can be a challenge, but like I tell my friends that are trying to get fit and healthy, just get in the habit of working out. Once you do it consistently for a few weeks, it WILL become a habit and your body will CRAVE the exercise. I am evidence of this! Becoming used to working out changed my life and when I don’t exercise, my body doesn’t feel good.

So how about tackling some of the food issues?

Craving Chocolate?

There are a few things that have helped me with this dilemma. The first is hot cocoa. Having a mug of hot cocoa in the winter time is a GREAT trick to satisfy that craving for chocolate. There are so many different kinds and different flavors out there. The average hot cocoa mix is 90-120 calories. That is not a bad number for a treat.

Another tip is to have dark chocolate in the house. For some reason, dark chocolate is so rich to me that it only takes one or two pieces to satisfy the craving. I’ve been getting the Lindt chocolate bars in either the dark chocolate and sea salt or dark chocolate and coconut flavors.

Lindt-chocolate

 

It only takes 1 or 2 of the squares and I’m good. It’s like the dark chocolate stops the craving. At least for me. I’ve had 2 chocolate bars in my pantry for about four weeks now and one is half-way gone so far. That used to be unheard of for me! Any kind of candy in the house used to be gone in a day. Not anymore!

Feel Like a Bottomless Pit?

I’ve struggled with this and while I don’t have a “this will fix the problem forever” solution, I do have some tips. So the next time you eat a healthy meal and feel like you could eat more, re-evaluate what you just ate. Eating foods with healthy fats in them will help you feel satiated. Examples of this:

  • Add some blackened salmon to your salad.
  • Eat some nuts as a snack. (Walnuts are supposed to be the best. I personally prefer pistachios, peanuts, almonds or cashews. Be careful though, nut calories can add up fast!)
  • Avocado avocado avocado! It’s a brilliant food and eating just 1/4 of an avocado on your toast or topping your salad will make you feel fuller. I promise. I was skeptical. It worked.
  • A little bit of peanut butter can help. Add 1 tablespoon (about 90-100 calories) to your banana or apple as a snack and you will be full.
  • Olives. I’m obsessed with olives. My favorites are black or green olives stuffed with garlic and jalapenos. Yum yum. But for some reason, only eating 5-8 olives is enough to take the edge off, satisfy the salt craving and make me feel full. Pickles seem to do the same.

These are just a few ideas that have worked for me. When I was having a slice of gluten-free toast with avocado on it for breakfast, I felt full longer than I did when I just had eggs for breakfast. So a typical breakfast was 1 fried egg, 1 slice of GF toast with avocado and a pint of plain iced tea. I’d eat it at 7am and be full until 10:30 or 11. That’s unheard of for me!

Struggling With Your “Diet”?

Instead of focusing on what you CAN’T eat, or stocking your fridge with iceburg lettuce and your pantry with rice cakes and cardboard crackers…focus on what you are adding to your diet. Take a look at each meal and ADD something.

Breakfast – Add some spinach and feta cheese to my scrambled eggs.

Snack – Have an apple and add some raisins to it.

Lunch – Have a salad with chicken breast but add avocado and a scoop of cottage cheese.

Dinner – Have a salad with your normal dinner and eat the salad first!  

Dessert – Have a hot cocoa instead of that brownie. 

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Small changes and additions can make a world of difference. Give it a try. Even if it’s only for one month, just try it!

Do you have any tips and tricks to share?

 

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