Tag Archives: weight management

Tips for Eating Healthy on Thanksgiving: Enjoy the holiday without ruining your diet!

The holidays are always my favorite time of the year – you get to take time off work, spend more time with family and friends, and of course – there’s the amazing food that goes along with it! J But for many people, especially those watching their weight, Thanksgiving can be a real challenge. Most people think they have to deprive themselves if they’re going to stay on their diet come Thanksgiving. That’s a myth! You can totally enjoy the wonderful Thanksgiving treats without depriving yourself – if you follow my 10 Tips for healthy eating on Thanksgiving. Hope they are helpful!

1) Don’t go to the Thanksgiving dinner hungry – eat normally all day! A lot of people starve themselves all day to “make room” for Thanksgiving dinner. DON’T do that! You’ll end up overeating like crazy during dinner and you’ll do more damage. During the day, eat small, light meals that keep you feeling satisfied (like fruit and low fat cottage cheese, and egg white omelet, a bowl of oatmeal with nuts, etc.).

2) Plan out your portion sizes – don’t plan to go back for seconds and don’t eat like this is your last meal on earth! First of all, there are always leftovers – so if you couldn’t get enough of those mashed potatoes, you can always take a bit home and eat it the next day. Remember – for all the “goodies” – it’s all about portion control! One taste of pie will not ruin your diet, but three slices will.  So, to avoid the pitfalls, plan to eat all the goodies that you enjoy – just eat them in moderation. For example: fill your plate ¾ with veggies, lean meat, and salad. The remaining ¼ of the plate you can fill with the fun stuff (mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc.). For dessert, I like to take tiny bite-sized portions of each of the options – that way I get to taste a little of everything but I don’t end up eating a 500 calorie slice of pecan pie!

3) Drink plenty of water, and stick to wine/beer over high-calorie cocktails. This one’s a no-brainer. What would you rather have – a 500 calorie cosmo, or a 500 calorie slice of pie? You do the math – to me, the dessert is more worth it J

4) Work out before the big meal! My husband and I usually like to go for a run on Thanksgiving morning. That way, even if we do overdo it a little bit, we have a couple hundred calories to play with on Thanksgiving day .

5) Turkey can be good for you! Just make sure you go skinless (takes away some of the fat/cholesterol), and make sure you go for the white meat – which is the best lean protein. And stick to a 4 oz portion (about the size of a deck of cards)

6) Veggies are definitely good for you Squashes, salad, green beans, potatoes – these are all are great side dishes that have tons of fiber and can fill up your plate without adding too many calories. BUT – sometimes these dishes can end up being calorie laden (e.g. mashed potatoes are usually made with butter & milk, green bean casserole is made with cream of mushroom soup, cheese, milk, and fried onions, and candied yams are loaded with cream, sugar, etc.) – so if you didn’t make the dish and you don’t know exactly how it was cooked, just eat a much smaller portion than you normally would.

7) If you are the Thanksgiving dinner chef, make healthy substitutions without losing any of the flavor! For example: For sweet potatoes, instead of cooking them with tons of sugar/cream, try sprinkling them with a tsp of honey and a bit of brown sugar, and bake them in the oven.  Make your own fresh cranberry sauce rather than using the high-sugar canned version. For stuffing, switch out white bread for whole wheat, or even substitute veggies for bread. For all recipes, substitute skim or 1% milk for whole milk or heavy cream, use light butter vs. regular butter, low fat cheese for regular cheese, 2 egg whites for one egg, low fat sour cream vs. regular… you get the picture J

8 ) Try going vegetarian! There are some really healthy, flavorful, Thanksgiving vegetarian dishes out there. Some of my favorite sources include: Cooking Light, Health.com, and the NY Times Food Section

9) If you do go “rogue” on Thanksgiving, restart your diet IMMEDIATELY the next day. Don’t use the fact that you went overboard one day as an excuse to completely ruin your diet. Create a plan for yourself to get back on track. Even if you ate 2000 calories during the Thanksgiving dinner, if you go back to eating healthy the next day, you won’t end up gaining 5 extra pounds from one meal.

10) Enjoy yourself! At the end of the day, Thanksgiving really is about being with friends and family and spending that time together. Don’t be so stressed out about the food that you aren’t able to enjoy the holiday! Stressing yourself out will only make you feel discouraged and will likely make you end up eating more. Just relax, and if you can’t remember all of these tips –just remember two things: Don’t go back for seconds and thirds, and eat everything in moderation! Happy Thanksgiving!!


Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!)

Tips for Healthy Eating At Weddings or Dining Out in General

This weekend, we went to Baltimore for our friends’ wedding – and it was an amazing weekend – filled with dancing, good food, and hanging out with good friends. One of the great things about weddings is the awesome food (and cake!) – but that generally also ends up being a diet pitfall for many people who are trying to watch what they eat. A few of our friends suggested I do a post on eating at weddings – to provide some tips on how to enjoy wedding food without breaking your diet. So here goes – tips for eating at weddings – The Picky Eater way! 🙂

So, let me start by saying that weddings are a time to enjoy yourself, have fun and not worry too much about your diet. If you’re the type of person who can have a day of “cheating” with no problems getting back to eating healthy, then my suggestion would just be to have fun at the wedding and resume your diet when you get back home. Even if you ate 3000 calories at the wedding (double the amount normally recommended for a grown adult), you’re not going to gain like 5 lbs just from that one day, especially if you eat much lighter the next day. But – if you’re the type of person who needs to stay on your diet, because if you go “rogue” and pig out at a wedding, you’re never going to return to eating vegetables again, then you might want to try some of my suggestions 🙂

Generally, I think there are three strategies you can use when eating out / eating at weddings:

1) The Small Portions / Picky Eater strategy (recommended for people who don’t want to go off their diet, but still want to indulge and enjoy a bit – I generally eat this way when I go to weddings). You can also use this strategy when you go out to dinner and don’t want to break your diet!

The key here is “a little bit” – those three words will be your favorite words when navigating the wedding buffet or eating the plated dinner. Take a look at this post on Portion Sizes for a bit more guidance on what “a little bit” means. But generally, think of it as little tastes from the buffet, or 1/2 the portion you’re served in a plated dinner.

Other helpful guidelines:

  • Look for healthy items during cocktail hour. Oftentimes people will put out veggies and dip, fruit, nuts, cheese, etc. If you take a ton of the veggies and fruit, complement them with a tablespoon of dip, and 1-2 cubes of cheese, you’ll walk into the reception feeling pretty full and likely won’t feel the need to pig out at the buffet
  • Avoid things that are deep fried, breaded, regular soda (if you want soda – go for the diet version – it has zero calories!), or anything in a cream sauce (salads, pastas, this goes for soup too – creamy soups pack almost double the calories of broth-based soups!). Again – if you want any of these things, try the “little bit” strategy 🙂 1-2 bites of anything isn’t going to break your diet!
  • For salads, take off the croutons – they randomly have tons of calories and fat
  • If there is a bread basket, don’t eat more than 1 roll or 1 slice – each one is about 150 calories at the very least! Think of it this way – if you had a choice between a bread roll now or the cake at the end… which one would you choose? 🙂
  • Beer and wine generally have fewer calories than mixed drinks (which can run up to 500-1000 calories depending on what’s in them!)
  • For dessert, share. That way you won’t end up eating the entire piece of cake yourself. Most buffets will also have fruit options or lighter fare for dessert which you should definitely go for. You can also use the “little bit” strategy with the cake – take a few bites and savor them – if you don’t eat those few bites mindlessly, you might find that your sweet craving has been satisfied without downing the entire slice!

2) The Going Rogue / Detox strategy (recommended for people who can easily discipline themselves the day after the wedding to detox and get back to eating healthy).

This strategy is simple – eat what you want on the day of the wedding, but the day after the wedding – do a complete detox. This doesn’t mean starve yourself by any means. Detox guidelines (note – this is JUST for the day after you get back from the wedding – it’ll revitalize your system and make you feel lighter/healthier!):

  • Eat whole foods. Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t understand
  • Eat tons of fresh fruits and veggies – you can have as much of these as you like 🙂
  • Eat whole grains (oatmeal, whole wheat bread, quinoa are some of my favorites)
  • Drink lots of water (no sodas, sugary juices, etc)
  • No desserts – 1 small piece of dark chocolate (70% cacao is a good choice) is probably ok though 🙂
  • For protein, try to stay away from meat – focus on dairy (1% milk, fat free yogurt, low fat cheese), tofu, 1/4 cup of almonds or walnuts, etc.
  • Minimize your intake of oils, fats, etc. (so basically, no french fries)

3) The Complete Avoidance strategy (which I wouldn’t recommend because honestly it’s not that much fun, but if you’re the type of person who can’t even have a taste of a cupcake without wanting to eat 5 of them, this strategy will probably work best for you). There aren’t really guidelines here – except that you’d basically stay away from all of the unhealthy foods (all desserts, anything fried, anything made with cream, any entree where the oil is visible or pools out in the sauce, etc.) If you did use this strategy, you’d probably have to bring a few snacks from home in order to supplement your meals throughout the day like fresh fruits, nuts, Lara Bars, etc. otherwise you’d starve!

Phew! I think that’s it 🙂 Hopefully these tips are helpful in navigating the world of wedding food – but remember, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself and have fun!!


Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

6 Small Meals vs. 3 Regular Meals – Which is the Healthier Diet?

Recently, I was talking to one of my friends who is trying to lose weight. She was telling me that she regularly only eats 2 big meals every day and usually skips breakfast. My immediate thought was: She needs to eat more frequently! Most people think that if they want to lose weight, they should just eat less and the weight will come off. That’s not exactly true.

The weight will likely come off, but it won’t stay off because the only reason you’ve lost weight is because you’ve severely limited your calories. As soon as you start eating normally again, you’ll gain the weight back, and on top of that, your body will begin to store that extra meal as fat fearing that you might decide to cut out that meal again in the future.

The reason for this is, when you start consuming drastically less calories, or have long gaps between meals (e.g. one meal at 12pm and one at 8pm with nothing else in between), your body goes into starvation mode. What does that mean? Basically, when there are long gaps between meals, your body moves from a fat burning mode to a fat preservation mode. That means that your body will start burning muscle instead of fat. This eventually causes a decrease in your lean muscle mass, which actually slows down your metabolism, and makes your body fat percentage goes up.

Also, when you eat only a couple meals a day, your blood sugar levels fluctuate wildly. Those blood sugar fluctuations are often the culprit for the crazy cravings we’ll get once we’re so hungry that any food – 5 chocolate chip cookies, 2 bags of chips, 1 whole pizza – will do. So even when you do eat your meals, you’ll end up overeating and canceling out any calorie restriction gains you accomplished during the day.

So does that mean that eating 6 meals a day is healthier than eating 3 meals a day? Not necessarily. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that. Because the other part of weight loss that’s important is a simple math equation (my husband would love that I’m incorporating math into this post by the way!). So here’s the equation: Calories in – Calories out < 0.

Or, in other words, the calories you’re consuming must be less than the calories you expend throughout the day. That doesn’t mean that you have to burn 1600 calories at the gym alone – this includes calories you burn just being you – I mean technically, we’re burning calories even while we’re sleeping! Here’s a link to an awesome tool that will help you determine your your BMR – that’s your basal metabolic rate – the amount of calories you burn doing no activity whatsoever.

But I digress 🙂 So back to the question – is eating 6 small meals a day healthier than eating 3 regular meals? Sort of. It’s only healthier if you aren’t consuming more calories as a result of eating more meals. So the key is – 6 small meals. That means that each mini-meal should be about 200-300 calories max – which puts you at a 1200-1800 calorie range per day – which is perfect.

The benefits of 6 small meals a day are:

  1. Keeps your metabolism going at a steady rate which allows you to burn calories efficiently
  2. Helps you maintain hunger cravings and random food binges – keeps your blood sugar steady which helps prevent hunger attacks
  3. Keeps your energy up!

The pitfalls of 6 small meals a day are:

  1. Overeating! Small means small! 1 slice of whole wheat toast with a slice of low fat cheese; or a handful of almonds with an apple count as mini-meals so be careful!
  2. Takes effort to plan out. If you’re doing well with 3 meals a day and you don’t tend to overeat in between meals, then this might not be the best plan for you.
  3. Many experts feel that trying to spread out the day’s calories rather than sitting down to regular meals may throw off the body’s internal clock making it forget how to recognize hunger and satiety cues to the point when you no longer understand what it’s like to be hungry but also never quite feel full. This is not a good thing.

So what’s the bottom line? If you’re the type of person who has the discipline and the patience to eat six small portions every day, can count calories, and you’re also the type of person to binge when you feel hungry – this could be the right fit for you. If you’re the type of person who enjoys sitting down to a regular sized meal and doesn’t have a tendency to overeat, then sticking to the traditional breakfast, lunch, dinner and one small snack is probably the best approach. Either way – the total calories you’re consuming must equal (or if you’re trying to lose weight, be less than) the calories you’re expending. And you should always be eating at least 3 balanced meals a day – don’t ever skip breakfast! 🙂


Filed under Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

Healthy Snacks Part 2: How to avoid reaching for the junk food!

So – it’s 4pm, or midnight, or 10am … or whatever your usual snacking time is, and that usual craving comes upon you. I really want… chocolate… cookies… chips…. candy….soda. Sound familiar? 🙂

When I wrote my last post – My Top 10 Healthy Snacks – I got a great comment from Marisa on being “guilty” of reaching for the “bad stuff” instead. She brought up a good point – it’s much easier to know what’s healthy to eat than to actually eat it! She inspired me to write this post – here are a few of my tips on how to avoid reaching for the “bad stuff” and make it more of a habit to reach for the good stuff!

1) Distract yourself. Go for a short walk, take a bathroom break, pick up the phone and call a friend, or start talking to a coworker. If you really aren’t hungry and were just bored – this will take care of the need to snack!

2) Only keep healthy snacks near you. Laziness can be quite a powerful tool when it comes to avoiding unhealthy food. If the cookies (or other unhealthy snacks) aren’t at your desk, but an apple is – you’re more likely to reach for the apple than to go looking for the cookies. Extend this principle to your home – avoid keeping junk food in your house – and don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry! You’ll be much less likely to make bad choices if you aren’t hungry when you’re shopping for food.

3) Chew Gum (or a mint). Chewing gum will make you feel like you’re snacking when you really aren’t, and the mint taste will leave your mouth feeling refreshed and you’ll be less likely to want to chow down right after (think about it – right after you brush your teeth, do you feel like eating?)

4) Drink water or tea. A lot of times, people mistake hunger for thirst. A rule of thumb should be – when you feel the need to snack, drink a glass of water instead. If you’re still hungry 5-10 min later, try to reach for a healthy snack!

5) Allow yourself to indulge once in a while. Cutting out junk food altogether is not the answer. Everything in moderation! Also – if you let yourself indulge in small portions occasionally, then you won’t feel totally deprived of junk food and will be less likely to binge on it later.


Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

Items for a Healthy Pantry!

Hi Everyone! So this weekend, while I was looking for some healthy 4th of July meals to prepare, I came across this article on the Food Network’s Website. The article was entitled “The Healthy Pantry” – and I thought it was super helpful in outlining those staples that are “must haves” when creating a healthy meal. The full list is here – and my favorites / additions / modifications (and little explanations of why they’re good items to have) are below. Enjoy!

1) Oils, Vinegars & Condiments

  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Adds great flavor for cooking, perfect for salad dressing, and has tons of healthy fats and antioxidants)
  • Butter made with healthy Omega 3s (e.g. Smart Balance)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (the link has a full list of other vinegars that are good for cooking)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Ketchup (A great low cal way to spice up burgers and sandwiches)
  • Barbecue sauce (Make sure you get one that is super low in sugar – around 45 calories for 2 Tbsp)
  • Reduced-fat / fat-free mayonnaise (Trader Joe’s has a great “vegan mayo” that’s made from healthy oils instead of eggs. It tastes great – really close to regular mayo – and is way better for you!)
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • Prepared pesto (This is an item on the Food Network list that I would actually suggest not having. Prepared pesto is often very high in fat and preservatives. I’d suggest making your own or buying it fresh from a store like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)
  • Salsa (Pace Picante or fresh pico de gallo is my favorite)
  • Hot sauce
  • If you’re into salad dressings – make sure to get fat free / low calorie versions of the original – e.g. Kraft Light or Hidden Valley Fat Free)
  • Real maple syrup (Be sure to avoid the sugary syrups like Mrs. Butterworth’s “syrup” that you can find at your local grocery store – those don’t provide any of the antioxidant health benefits that real maple syrup has, and they are often super high in sugar)
  • Fresh fruit preserves (Better than Smucker’s Jelly because they contain real fruit!)
  • Pizza Sauce (Make sure you get one that is low in sugar – Trader Joe’s has a great organic pizza sauce that’s super flavorful and low in calories/sugar)

2) Seasonings

  • Salt (Sea salt is better than regular salt because it’s less refined and has more minerals – but it is also less salty so you have to account for that in recipes)
  • Black pepper (Freshly ground is my favorite)
  • Dried herbs and spices: ground cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper, rosemary, thyme leaves, oregano, Italian seasoning blend, tarragon leaves, ground cinnamon, ground ginger
  • Vanilla extract

3) Canned Goods & Bottle Items

  • Canned tomatoes (crushed with italian seasonings are great for sauces), tomato paste
  • Reduced-sodium broths
  • Canned beans: cannellini, kidney, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) — I’d also add black beans and pinto beans to the list!
  • Canned lentils
  • Low calorie canned soups: Amy’s has a great variety of soups; also Trader Joe’s has a few that I love: Organic Tomato Bisque; Split Pea; Black Bean — tons of fiber, great tasting and high in protein
  • Fat free refried beans (Look for the vegetarian versions – I like refried black beans from Rosarita the best)
  • Chunk light tuna and salmon

4) Grains & Legumes

  • Assorted whole-wheat pasta
  • Regular and instant brown rice
  • Whole-wheat couscous
  • Quinoa – this isn’t on the Food Network list but I’d strongly recommend it – the only grain that’s a complete protein
  • Regular and quick-cooking barley
  • Bulgur
  • Rolled oats – steel cut oats are also great.
  • Dried lentils
  • For breads, I like Orowheat’s Double Fiber bread for sandwiches; Orowheat 100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns for burgers; Thomas’ Whole wheat bagel thins; Thomas’ Light english muffins, High fiber whole wheat pita bread; Mission carb balance tortillas  – all of these can be frozen if you don’t use them up right away – they freeze really well and taste exactly the same after being heated in a toaster oven!

5) Baking Products

  • Whole-wheat flour and whole-wheat pastry flour. (Store in the refrigerator or freezer.)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Unprocessed wheat bran
  • Quick-rising yeast
  • Cornstarch
  • Brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar – I like the organic cane sugar from Trader Joe’s
  • Honey
  • Splenda or Stevia (if you’re into artificial sweeteners, these are the best)

6) Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruit

  • Walnuts, pecans, sesame seeds, almonds – I’d also add cashews and sunflower seeds if you like them – they are a great source of vitamins and you can also use cashews as a substitute for cream in many dishes!
  • Dried apricots, dates, cranberries, raisins
  • Peanut butter (natural) – the only ingredient should be ground peanuts

7) Refrigerator Basics

  • 1% or skim milk
  • Reduced-fat sour cream (I’d go with fat free here – you can’t taste the difference!)
  • Fruit juice – make sure you don’t get juice that’s mostly sugar
  • Large eggs – Organic, free range eggs are the best – and if you can find omega 3 yolks that’s even better! Try using only egg whites in your omelettes/fritattas/etc – you’ll get all of the protein with none of the fat
  • Cheese: sharp Cheddar, feta, Parmesan, mozzarella (fat free feta crumbles are super low calorie and taste great… but for the other cheeses I’d go with the full fat versions)
  • For cream cheese – I’d suggest using Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges – much lower in calories and still has the great creamy taste
  • Nonfat or light vanilla yogurt – Greek yogurt is your best option here – nonfat version is still super creamy and packs up to 15g of protein!

8 ) Freezer Basics

  • Frozen fruit — frozen berries are the best – super high in fiber, and freeze really well
  • Frozen vegetables: edamame (soybeans), broccoli, corn, bell pepper-and-onion mix, peas, spinach
  • Low-fat ice cream, frozen yogurt and/or sorbet (should be around 100-120 calories per half cup)
  • Frozen cheese ravioli or tortellini — this is ok – but if you have time to get the fresh versions and freeze them I’d suggest doing that instead


Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

Misleading “Diet” Foods!

Happy new year everyone! With the new year comes lots of new resolutions to get healthier, lose weight, eat better, etc. – which is great! Unfortunately, a lot of people get misled by unfair marketing from food companies – promoting their products as super healthy when they actually aren’t! So what’s a health-conscious consumer to do?

I came across an article this morning from Fitness Magazine that’s actually really helpful in debunking the “myths” behind certain diet foods. The original article is here – and my summary is below. Hope this is helpful in allowing you to be successful for your new years health goals!

10 Diet Foods that aren’t actually healthy!

  1. Flavored Yogurt (e.g. Yoplait Original Flavored Yogurt): Flavored yogurt has over 30g of sugar per serving! Not to mention, about 200 calories. Opt for non-fat Greek Yogurt and stir in a Tbsp of honey, maple syrup, etc.
  2. Sugar-free Cookies: the sad thing here is, when they take out the sugar, they add more fat to make up for it! Sugar free does not mean “calorie-free” – and many times the sugar-free versions have as many calories as their full-sugar counterparts! Instead, have a 100 calorie pack, or just ONE regular small cookie (moderation is better than eating fake food!)
  3. Trail Mix: The unfortunate thing here is, food companies ruin the nutritional value of trail mix by deep frying the banana chips and covering raisins, almonds, etc with partially hydrogenated oils! (basically, adding trans fats). When you look at the ingredients on a trail mix package, “oil” should not be one of them. Fortunately, stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods offer very healthy packaged trail mixes, or you can make your own by buying roasted almonds, raisins, other nuts, etc and mixing your own. Keep in mind though, that nuts still contain a lot of calories and fats (even if it’s good calories/fats) – so stick to a 1/2 cup serving at most when you eat it!
  4. Veggie Chips: Chips are chips – no matter whether they were once a healthy veggie, once they end up in that plastic, sealed bag, they have been deep fried and have lost most of their nutritional value. Veggie chips are basically potato chips in disguise. Instead, opt for baked potato chips or tortilla chips – and stick to only a handful as a serving!
  5. Granola: The word “granola” automatically seems healthy, doesn’t it? Sadly, it isn’t. Granola usually has tons of added sugars and fats (the oats are usually tossed with a sugary syrup before they are baked to give them a sweet flavor). One cup can have up to 560 calories and 28g of fat (without milk!). My rule for granola is – stay away from it. Eat high fiber tasty cereals instead. And if you really love granola so much that you can’t give it up, sprinkle only ONE Tbsp of it over yogurt or oatmeal.
  6. Sushi: Regular sushi with the basics (fish, rice, seaweed, veggies) is usually a good choice. However, many restaurants have tempura sushi – which is basically battered, deep fried meat or veggies wrapped in seaweed. Stay away from that! Instead opt for nigiri, sashimi or cucumber/veggie rolls.
  7. Smoothies: Ah, Jamba Juice. Juice seems so healthy right?? Wrong. Juice oftentimes can have as much sugar as soda! And smoothies that are made with ice cream, frozen yogurt, syrups, granola, etc can pack 500-1000 calories per drink! If you love smoothies, make your own at home with frozen berries, a banana, 1/2 cup low fat milk or soy milk, and 2 tsp honey. That way you’ll get your full serving of fruit without the extra calories!
  8. Diet Drinks: For some reason, diet drinks have been linked to obesity. Studies show that people who consume diet drinks are more likely to gain weight than people who don’t. I don’t quite understand this connection, but there are tons of articles out there about it. Opt for a drink with 3 parts sparkling water and 1 part juice instead.
  9. Fat Free Salad Dressing: From a calories standpoint, this isn’t a bad option (usually these types of dressings are low in calories and have a similar taste to their full fat counterparts – which should definitely be avoided!) The issue is, that without healthy oils in your salad, you won’t be able to absorb the nutrients from it! You can make your own dressing with heart healthy olive oil (2 tsp olive oil, 1.5 Tbsp balsamic vinegarette, minced garlic to taste)
  10. Ground Turkey/Chicken: I basically stay away from meat, but if you do like meat – don’t eat ground turkey or chicken – which often contain fat & skin! The key here is to look at labels and make sure that the meat you’re buying has only 1g fat and no saturated fat per serving.

Hope this info is helpful! Thanks Fitness Magazine for the great article!


Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

Be a Picky Eater – Watch Your Portions!

Portion control is KEY to maintaining a healthy weight. You could eat the healthiest food in the world, but if you eat too much of it, you’ll likely still gain weight! And in the world of “super-sizing” – our notion of what one serving is has become ridiculously skewed.

Oftentimes, people ask me how I watch my portions. In an ideal world, you could look at the nutrition labels, measure out what “one serving” looks like, and eat that. But that’s just not realistic! Especially when most of us eat at restaurants or grab food “on-the-go.” One thing I’ve found useful is “eyeballing” what the right portion should be. And I was really excited when I found this article on WebMD that gives real-life examples of what normal portions should look like. The link to the article is here – but I’ve also included examples from the article below. Hope this is helpful!

So to start with – what should you be aiming for in terms of servings? The helpful WebMD folks have compiled a list which I’ve included below:

  • 1.5-2 cups fruits & 3 cups vegetables
  • 6-7 servings grains: ½ cup rice or pasta, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup cereal, etc.
  • 3 servings low-fat dairy: 1 cup milk or yogurt, ¼ cup cottage cheese, 1.5 ounces cheese
  • 5-6 one-ounce equivalent servings protein
  • 5-6 portions (teaspoons) oils and fats
  • 100-300 “extra” calories from snacks, dessert, alcohol or overeating

Example #1: Baked Potato

baked potato1 vegetable serving = 1 small potato = the size of a computer mouse

For an even healthier option, try a sweet potato!



Example #2: Pasta

pasta1 serving of grains = 1/2 cup pasta = 1/2 a baseball

For healthier options: Opt for whole wheat/whole grain pasta for extra fiber, Skip Alfredo or creamy sauces in favor of Marinara

Example #3: Waffles/Pancakes

waffle1 serving of grains = 1 waffle OR 1 pancake = size of a CD

For healthier options: Opt for whole wheat or buckwheat pancakes/waffles for more fiber or order fresh fruit with your dish as a topping

Example #4: Bagel/Muffin

bagel1 serving grains = 1 small muffin = size of a tennis ball OR 1/2 medium bagel = size of a hockey puck

Healthy tip: Get a whole wheat bagel; or instead of a bakery muffin, get a high fiber English muffin

Example #5: Cheese

cheese1 serving dairy = 1 portion cheese = 4 dice

Healthy tip: Get low fat cheese!




Example #6: Meat

meat3 oz portion size = deck of cards or the palm of your hand (minus fingers)

But you only need 5-6 oz per day!




Example #7: Peanut Butter

peanutbutter1 serving protein = 2 Tbsp peanut butter = 1 golf ball

Note: 1 portion size (2 Tbsp) has 190 calories and 17g fat – while this is good fat, you definitely don’t want to overdo it!


Other Quick Portion Size Tips:

  • 1 portion of rice = 1 filled cupcake wrapper
  • 1 portion size of fat = 1 teaspoon = a stack of 4 dimes or 1 poker chip
  • 1 portion size of chips = 1 handful = 6 large tortilla chips or 20 potato chips or 20 mini-pretzels
  • 1 portion size of dessert = 1 small scoop of ice cream = 250 calories

Happy Eating!


Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!)

Low Calorie / Healthier Versions of Candy, Cookies, Dessert!

candyI love dessert! I have the biggest sweet tooth ever – candy, cookies, chocolate, ice cream – you name it – I’m a fan. If I’m at a dessert buffet, it’s always really hard to resist temptation!

Even though all this junk isn’t good for you, depriving yourself completely isn’t necessairly the way to go. If you totally deprive yourself you’ll only crave it more, and eventually you’ll go nuts and eat like 5 chocolate bars and your whole healthy living plan will be gone. Junk food is ok – in extreme moderation.

Because I’m a candy addict, I took the initiative to find “healthier” dessert options when I have my sweet tooth cravings!


Here are a few tips/healthier sweet options:

jb1) Jellybellies: This is a great alternative to skittles, starburst, etc. One jellybean has only 4 calories!! That means you can have 10 jellybeans and you’ll have only racked up 40 calories. The flavors are great too and will keep your taste buds happy 🙂



2) Chips Ahoy 100 Calorie Packs: These packages have 15 mini cookies in them. And you’ll only end up eating 100 calories, even if you finish the whole pack! It’s not the same as chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven, but it’s a great snacky alternative. There are tons of other 100 calorie options from Nabisco – I like the Oreo 100 Calorie Packs and the Lorna Doone Shortbread 100 calorie packs. Other good cookie options: Trader Joe’s Organic Animal Crackers. Each cookie/biscuit is about 7 calories! Sometimes I’ll make a little snack mix with 2 Chips Ahoy cookies, 2 Oreo cookies, 2 Shortbread cookies and 3 Animal Crackers. That mix is only about 50 calories!


cdy_3_musketeers_mint_dark_chocolate_24ct3) Mini 3 Musketeers – Mint: This is the greatest chocolate snack ever! If you like mint/dark chocolate you’ll love this. One mini musketeers has only 25 calories! All of the “mini” versions of Mars snacks are pretty low in calories too. Reeses mini cups are about 40-50 calories per cup, Rollos are about 40 calories, Snickers are 40-50 calories per snack, Regular 3 musketeers are 30 calories, Milky Way is 40 calories. If you eat 2-3 of these you’ll get your chocolate fix but will only have eaten up to 100 calories. I like having 2 mini mint musketeers and 1 Reeses mini peanut butter cup – 100 calorie dessert!


jello4) Jello Sugar Free Pudding Cups: These are only 60 calories per cup and are a great cooling snack for the summer! Chocolate is my favorite flavor 🙂



3529435576_f4d48eaa7d5) Dreyer’s Slow Churned Light Ice Cream: This is a great alternative to regular ice cream. Each 1/2 cup serving only has about 120 calories max, with only ~30% of those calories from fat! They have TONS of flavors to choose from – my favorite is Cookie Dough.


These are my favorites when it comes to healthy/low calorie dessert alternatives. What are some of yours?


Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!), Picky Eats (Restaurants/Foods), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

Be a Picky Eater – Don’t Drink Your Calories!

Picture1One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from friends of mine who are trying to lose weight is: “I’m eating healthy and working out but I’m not losing as much weight as I should! What am I doing wrong?” And oftentimes, the reason they’re not losing enough weight is because they’re unconsciously consuming more calories than they think. A lot of these “hidden” calories are in drinks! Alcohol, sodas, even juice which is supposed to be the “healthy” option are full of calories and sugar! And your morning coffee could be adding up to 500 calories to your daily diet. So – one of the biggest tips I can give for people trying to lose weight is – don’t drink your calories!!

Here’s how the caloric counts break down:

1. Sodas: For most sodas, 8oz has anywhere from 100-125 calories. So drinking that 16 oz Coke with lunch could add up to 250 calories to your diet! And forget about supersizing – that would add up to over 500 calories per day!

2. Coffee: You might think of your morning latte as having no effect on your diet. But actually – unless you’re ordering either a tall nonfat cappuccino or a tall nonfat latte from starbucks, you could run anywhere from 200-500 calories with your morning coffee! Why? Because of all the sugary syrup add-ins, the whipped cream, the full fat milk (if you don’t ask for nonfat), the caramel, the chocolate, etc. etc.). And the drink titles can be decieving. The “Tall Chai Tea Latte” sounds healthy, but actually has 200 calories and 31g sugar! What’s one of the worst drinks you can get at Starbucks? The Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino® blended coffee with Chocolate Whipped Cream – a grande will run you 470 calories and 17g fat! Ack. You could eat an entire lunch & dessert for that amount of calories.

3. Juice. Basically, the rule with juice is 8 oz carry about 80-100 calories. So if you have a glass of juice, you’re going to be drinking at least that many calories.

4. Alcohol. Wine/beer have about 80-100 calories for 8 oz. 1 shot of any hard alcohol has 60-100 calories. Everything else – all fruity mixed drinks, multiple glasses of wine, etc can go anywhere from 200-600+ calories!

The takeaway here is – if you’re following a 1,500-2,000 calorie/day diet, and you get 500 of those calories from sugar laden drinks – losing weight is going to be a major challenge!

So what does that mean? Should you cut out all drinks? No way! There are some great alternatives – you won’t be stuck with drinking only water for the rest of your life 🙂

Healthier Drink Alternatives

Cans_11. Soda: If you must have soda, there are tons of diet, calorie-free options for all of the big brands – I’ve even found Diet Cherry Coke! And for the most part, they all taste pretty close to the originals. And it’s definitely worth it when you think about the calorie savings! But keep in mind that all of these diet drinks are flavored with artificial sweeteners – which are basically chemicals added to the drink. So if you can, stay away from soda in general and stick to more natural fizzy drinks like sparkling water!




2. Sparkling Water: This is another great alternative to soda and to juice. If you mix flavored sparkling water with 1/4 cup of apple juice or orange juice, you end up with a very refreshing drink that only has about 30 calories!


starbucks13. Starbucks: I know sometimes you just NEED coffee. So what are some healthy low calorie options at Starbucks?

– Hot Tea: If you get a Tazo Chai tea bag with water, let it steep for a few minutes and add 1/4 cup nonfat milk and splenda – you end up with a great, tall, hot drink for only 30-40 calories!

– Tall Non-Fat Cappuccino, sweetened with splenda or sugar-free syrup: 80 calories

– Tall Non-Fat Latte, sweetened with splenda or sugar-free syrup: This is about 100-120 calories

– Hot Coffee or Espresso with a shot of nonfat milk, sweetened with splenda – 20-40 calories max

Essentially, you want to stay away from the mochas, caramels, hot chocolates, sugary-syrup add-ins, etc. That cuts the calories down by a lot!


FLAVOREDTXT4. Juice: Essentially, the way to get around juice is by mixing it with sparkling water (like in #2) or finding sugar free versions that taste like juice. Flavor Splash by Dasani is pretty good – refreshing and doesn’t feel like water. Propel is a good alternative to Gatorade. There’s also Crystal Light powders – which mixed with water make pretty good lemonade!


wine-glass-red5. Alcohol: Basically, stick to red wine or beer and only have 1-2 drinks max! If you want hard alcohol or a mixed drink, have rum and DIET coke instead of regular, or vodka soda (club soda has 0 calories), etc. Stay away from Long Island Iced Teas, Margheritas, Pina Coladas, etc. etc.


Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!)

Be a Picky Eater – Avoid Trans Fats!

2uji2bvfzgm11j55a14fuzyz.transFatThere are so many different types of “fat” these days – some are good, some are bad, news changes all the time…. it gets hard to keep track! But one type of fat I always try to avoid is “Trans Fats.” I’m definitely picky when it comes to that – I check labels to see if trans fats exist in the product and if they do, I stay away!

When the news about trans fats came out, I visited a number of sites to figure out what they were and the implications for my health. I’ve listed the best sites at the bottom of this article, and have consolidated the info from these sites here.

So why are trans fats so “bad”? First – let’s talk about what trans fats are:

Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen molecules to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid (creating “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”). Doesn’t that sound bizarre? It’s industrially engineered fat. In your food. Gross!

One thing to note is that very small amounts of trans fats also occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, including beef, lamb and butterfat.  It isn’t clear; though, whether these naturally occurring trans fats have the same bad effects on cholesterol levels as trans fats that have been industrially manufactured.

So what foods contain trans fats?

Most packaged “junk food” contain trans fats. They are also found in fried foods like French fries and doughnuts, and baked goods including pastries, pie crusts, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, and stick margarines and shortenings. The reason for this is that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil increases shelf life for food products, make the food taste more “desirable.” Also – many restaurants use oil with trans fats to fry their food – because this kind of oil can be used over and over throughout the day to fry other foods! I bet you didn’t know that your fries were cooked in oil that had been used throughout the day – kind of scary huh?

Why are trans fats unhealthy?

Trans fats have been linked to chronic health problem such as: increased risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. This is because trans fats increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol and actually lower your HDL (good) cholesterol.

How much trans fat can I have daily?

Less than 1% of your total daily calories. So if you eat 2000 calories per day, you can only have 2g trans fat at the most daily. Given the amount of naturally occurring trans fats you probably eat every day, this leaves virtually no room at all for industrially manufactured trans fats.

How do I know if I’m eating trans fats?

Look at the nutrition labels of the foods you’re eating. If trans fats are listed on the nutrition panel – stay away! But the FDA guidelines state that if a product has less than 0.5g trans fat, they can say “no trans fat” on their product labels. But that means the product could still have trans fat in it. “Zero grams trans fat” could actually mean “0.49g trans fat.” Over the course of 3 meals – that could add up to 1.5g trans fat per day! So – when you’re trying to figure out if a product has trans fat in it, look at the ingredients. If you see “partially hydrogenated oils” or “shortening”  – that means the food has trans fat in it.

Helpful Links

American Heart Association


News Article

“The Truth About Trans Fat”


Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)