1. DUMP THE JUNK, CLEAR OUT YOUR KITCHEN: Yes, clean out your kitchen pantry and fridge. Help avoid temptation by making a clean sweep of your pantry and fridge. Stock with whole foods, fresh foods. Check your ingredients lists and avoid things like high fructose corn syrup. Here are 10 foods to eliminate from your diet and your house:
- Sweetened Dairy Products (e.g. ice cream, low-fat ice cream, frozen yogurt)
- Trans Fat Containing Foods (e.g. stick margarine, shortening, fast foods, commercial baked goods)
- Sausage, Hot Dogs, and Luncheon Meats
- Smoked Meat, Barbecued Meat and Conventionally-Raised Red Meat
- Fried Foods including Potato Chips and French Fries
- Highly-salted Foods
- Refined White Sugar
- Refined White Flour
2. KEEP A FOOD JOURNAL: Journal what you eat on a daily basis. This will help you focus on the things that are trigger foods for you as well as make sure you eating enough.
3. JOURNAL YOUR WEIGHT LOSS PROGRESS: In the beginning, take your measurements. The inches lost are motivating as well. Weigh once a week. People who do are more likely to lose and maintain that loss.
4. EAT A QUALITY BREAKFAST: People who eat breakfast have a better shot at losing and maintaining weight loss. When you support healthy blood sugar levels by breaking your overnight fast with nutrient-dense foods, you are less likely to gorge later in the day because your body will be better prepared to make healthy food choices. You will experience less hunger, reduce snacking and fewer evening cravings — while burning calories. Focus on whole, natural foods that includes quality protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.
5. AUTOMATE YOUR MEALS: Choose three to four different breakfasts and lunches that you can switch between. Narrowing your choices you are less likely to be caught unprepared and make unhealthy choices. I even use this tip for my dinner meal choices. That way I always have products on hand to make a healthy, delicious, simple meal.
6. MAKE SMALL SENSIBLE CHANGES: Don’t overwhelm yourself,
7. ADD NEW ITEMS TO YOUR DIET ONE DAY AT A TIME: This will help you to adjust to your new foods and see what you like and how to incorporate them into your meal plans.
8. DON’T WORRY THAT YOU WON’T GET ENOUGH PROTEIN: Based on a 2,000 calorie intake: Average American Consumes: 100 – 120 grams per day. Standard Protein Recommendations: Men: 56 grams a day; Women: 46 grams a day. Studies have shown that 20 – 35 grams are sufficient. People who eat vegetable based diets (vegan) tend to eat 60 – 80 grams.
9. EXPLORE PLANT-BASED FORMS OF PROTEIN: Try: broccoli rabe, spinach, asparagus, Bok choy, Swiss chard, mushrooms, cauliflower, kale, tofu, tempeh, lentils, edamame, oats, beans, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, almonds, wild rice, sunflower seeds, sprouted grain breads. (if you need more ideas let me know!)
10. COMBINE THE FOOD ITEMS IN #9: Put them into wonderful salads, soups, smoothies, and stews … more bang for your buck all the way around. Lots of snap, crunch and oh so yummy flavors sure to please your palette in every way.
11. DON’T SKIP MEALS: When you start skipping meals this can cause your body to go into a fat-storing starvation mode, making it harder to burn calories. If you are busy and on the run, prepare things the night before. Keep something handy in the car or with you, like some nuts or a healthy bar like a Lara Bar, and an apple. This way your body won’t get off track.
12. AVOID FRYING: There are healthier ways to cook that include baking, steaming, roasting, and broiling. When sauteing use broth instead of oil. Yes, olive oil is a “healthy” oil, but did you know that 1 tablespoon contains about 120 calories with 14 grams of fat. One ounce which is ⅛ of a cup contains about 250 calories and 28 grams of fat. That’s a lot of “empty” calories and the oil won’t fill you up! But if you eat a healthy portion of grains, veggies or fruit that total up to 250 calories – now you’re talking!
13. SHOP SMARTER BY USING A GROCERY LIST: Shop smarter by using a grocery list. Know what you need to prepare food for the week or at least the next few days. When you shop from a list and only a list, you will steer away from those less healthy choices.
14. STAY HYDRATED AND DON’T CONFUSE THIRST WITH HUNGER: Drink a glass of water when you feel hungry to see if that’s what you’re really craving. Water is an essential and a wonderful way to “deliver” the nutrients to our cells. Also, by adding more fruits and veggies you will get more bank for our buck to your diet because not only are they packed with nutrition they will assist with your hydration. Here are just a few of my top picks because as you know there are really a plethora out there to choose from: watermelon, grapes, cucumbers, tangelos, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, strawberries, berries, kiwi.
15. BE SAFE AND ADD VITAMIN B12 & VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS TO YOUR REGIME. By eating a lot of tantalizing whole foods, vegetables, and fruits it will help you work toward taking very few pills, but these two supplements are essential for your health:
- Vitamin B12 – 250 mcg daily in the form of either a chewable or sublingual tablet: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/vitamin-b12/
- Vitamin D, 1000 to 2000 IU per day (with a meal for better absorption); there is a global deficiency: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-vitamin-d3-better-than-d2/
16. DISCONTINUE OR WEAN OFF DAIRY products, especially cheese.
17. MILK IS THE MOST COMMON FOOD INTOLERANCE: In the U.S., lactose intolerance is the most common food intolerance among children and adults.
18. WHAT ABOUT MY CALCIUM INTAKE: You do not need dairy products to get sufficient calcium (an inducer of acid load, it actually increases calcium loss).
19. WHAT ABOUT MY PROTEIN INTAKE: You do not need dairy products for protein (1 oz of cheese, has 6 grams of artery clogging fat)
20. CHEESE ALTERNATIVES: Try a cheesy flavor alternative. Nutritional Yeast is a wonderful way to add that cheesy flavor your favorite recipes. Or try one of the great non-dairy, milk-free, vegan cheese alternatives out on the market to see which you like best. The top three I choose such as Tofutti http://www.tofutti.com/dairy-free-cheeses
Daiya Foods, http://us.daiyafoods.com/
Vegan Gourmet, by Follow Your Heart, http://followyourheart.com/
21. FLAXSEED FOR EGG REPLACEMENT: Take 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds and combine with 3 tablespoons of water. Set the mixture aside for a few minutes to gel before adding to the recipe. This replaces one egg.
22. FRUIT FOR EGG REPLACEMENT: Fruit makes an excellent replacement for eggs. I use bananas, apple sauce or puree, the most. You can also use canned pumpkin or any high pectin content fruit. ¼ cup of applesauce or mashed banana will replace 1 egg. I am careful to not use bananas where that flavor might be too strong and overpowering (like sugar cookies where you want that “vanilla” flavor to pop). For some recipes, when using a fruit puree as a substitute, add an extra ½ teaspoon baking powder to keep your item from becoming too heavy or dense (the egg’s role is the leavening agent). Try the blends of different fruits like peach/apple or strawberry/apple for some delicious tasting muffins.
23. EGG REPLACEMENT IN SAVORY RECIPES: For savory recipes, such as a vegetarian loaf (remember my Savory Vegetarian Neatloaf where I use both the oats and flaxseed mixture), try things like mashed potato, tomato paste or rolled oats. These agents help to thicken and gel with the other ingredients. Also bread crumbs, cornmeal/flour, arrowroot and whole-wheat flour are good substitutions. I have also tried using tahini, or seed butter (sunflower) or nut butter (almond butter) which are more mild flavored nut butters. These have worked the best for my meatless burgers, or meatballs where there are wonderful extra spices that blend with the replacer.
24. EGG REPLACEMENT FOR FOODS LIKE CUSTARDS: Silken tofu (firmer types don’t blend as well) is fabulous as a replacement for recipes with a heavier consistency like custards, cheesecakes, puddings, and Quiche. It’s also great in brownies and cakes as it takes on the flavor of whatever you are cooking. Generally, 1/4 cup of tofu will replace one egg. Whip or beat it before adding it to the recipe. You can also use 1/4 cup of soy yogurt per egg.
25. EGG REPLACEMENT FOR JUST THE EGG WHITE: For an egg white replacement, mix 1 tablespoon plain agar powder (available from most health food stores) with 1 tablespoon with water. Whip together, chill and then whip it again. And when you need a sweet glaze on top of a baked pastries or for a white, crackled look, use a simple mixture of powdered sugar and a small amount of water, whisked until smooth, and brushed over the top when the baked goods are barely warm so that the glaze doesn’t melt off or soak into the pastries too much.
26. MAKE A COMMITMENT TO CHANGE: Change is hard but set your goal to completely commit to your new eating plan for six weeks.
27. FOCUS ON ACTIONS, NOT ON HOW MUCH YOU WEIGH: If you focus on your actions, not just how much you weigh with day, the weight will start to drop off as a result of all the healthy lifestyle changes you are making: intelligent eating, exercising, getting more sleep.
28. EAT ENOUGH FOOD: Be sure you eat enough nutrient dense foods (focus on whole-foods, vegetables, fruits, whole grains; avoid dairy and work toward moving away from animal products, especially during the first 6 weeks).
29. GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO ADJUST TO NEW FLAVORS: Give your taste buds a chance to adjust. Plan a cheat two or three times a month or once a week. But once a week only in the beginning … your goal is to move to three times a month, to two, to eventually once in a while. Then get right back with your plan. Trust your taste buds and your body to change.
30. SEEK SUPPORT: Find outside support to help you be accountable and talk things through; that person can be a family member, a good friend, your walking-buddy, your personal trainer at the gym, or a health coach.
31. BEFORE DINING OUT CHECK OUT YOUR RESTAURANT: Whether you are vegan, moving in that direction, or simply trying to stay true to healthier eating choices eating out can be a struggle. Many restaurants offer menus sensitive to dietary restrictions and allergies offer lighter fare menus. Check out the restaurant’s online menu so you can decide what you want to eat before you leave the house.
32. CALL THE RESTAURANT: Next, if you don’t find any obvious meal options on the menu call the restaurant and ask how they can accommodate a vegan diet or any other restrictions you may have. It helps to be very specific about what you would like. Don’t feel you are being a bother.
33. DON’T BE AFRAID TO MODIFY WHAT’S ON THE MENU: If you’re unable to check out a restaurant’s menu ahead of time, when you arrive, take your time and check for their vegetarian options. These dishes can easily be modified by replacing the butter with oil, or asking vegetables to be steamed (and to have no butter added), leave off the cheese, don’t order any sour cream. Specialty dishes or salads can be modified to be vegan; by removing the chicken or shrimp and replacing it with black beans, red kidney beans or garbanzo beans. When you switch out the cheese ask if it can be replaced with some extra tomatoes, mushrooms, or some avocado.
34. ORDER ONLY SIDE DISHES: If options on the menu are limited, order a few side dishes. Ask them to hold any butter. Create a delicious and balanced meal of a side order of brown rice, or a plain baked potato, with added beans and steamed vegetables. Top it off with some chunky salsa.
35. GO ETHNIC: Many cuisines have a lot of naturally low fat, low calories or vegan options or ones that can be easily modified. You can eat quite easily at Mexican, Thai, Lebanese and even Italian restaurants.
36. LIGHTEN UP: Along your journey to a healthier lifestyle, have fun. Go out and experience every opportunity you can.
37. FOLLOW YOUR PASSIONS: Do what you love now, don’t wait until tomorrow. When your heart is full, it’s amazing how you don’t focus on food … so you will be feeding your entire body when you do so. doing what I love like acting and traveling to new places, gardening and cooking; caring for my home and basically
38. DON’T WORRY SO MUCH: Try to not worry so much about life. Truly, when nothing is really that concerning, don’t dwell, just fill yourself up with learning opportunities, interesting experiences and interesting people.
39. NURTURE FRIENDSHIPS: Surround yourself with interesting, positive people. Cherish and nurture your friendships for friends fill your life with color. Friends fill your life with laughter. Friends fill your life with love. They will encourage you, inspire you, help and support you in times of need. “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” (Donna Roberts).