Small Ways to Make Big Changes

With all the social pressure to take better care of ourselves, a lot of us are finding it difficult to break old eating habits and create and sustain new, healthier ways. I use the methods that are offered below and have found that they help a great deal in making these changes stick.

Clean out the Kitchen
Sometimes the best way to avoid temptation is to keep it out of the house. Go through your food stores (pantry, fridge, freezer) and get rid of the things that should not be in your diet. Food pantries will appreciate the donation of dry or canned goods.

I removed milk chocolate, white rice, wheat flour pastas, and other items that are bad for the diabetic diet. Over time I find that I want them less and less, having other foods on hand instead.

Keep Fresh Goodies on Hand
Keep fruits and veggies on hand, washed and ready to eat. Keeping them in the front of the fridge makes them handy to grab when you are looking for a snack.

I have a hard time keeping fruits fresh, as I forget they are in my kitchen. Instead, I tend to slice and dice melons, bananas, and other produce into portions and store them in the front of the fridge. When I want a nibble, I can lay hands on these snack-packs quickly and easily feeding the instant gratification urge as well.

Enjoy your Food
Take the time to sit down for your meals. Make sure to breathe in between bites and savor the flavors. Wolfing food down because you are in a hurry is bad for your digestion. In additional, the longer it takes to chew your food, the more calories you will burn, and the more time your body has to register fullness.

I am a foodie, so slowing down wasn’t an ordeal for me. I don’t care for eating on the run as I like to feel the textures and taste the flavors as they go down. Eating too fast overloads the system before you know the food is in your stomach, and used to cause me a lot of overeating troubles. Sadly, smoothies are off my diet as the food is essentially pre-masticated, taking away the enjoyment of chewing as well as the additional calories burned by the action. I also drink tea or water with my meals to fill in the chinks, as it were. The fluids will cause certain foods to expand and give you a fuller sensation.

Use Smaller Plates
Rather than smaller portions on large dinner plates, which psychologically makes you feel like you are getting less than you are, use smaller plates so that the visual que is telling you that you have more food. This practice will leave you feeling more satisfied when you’ve finished, even though it’s simply a trick of the mind.

Crunch!
Research has indicated that crunchy textures relieve aggressive tensions, and help you feel more satisfied. Celery, pickles, raw apples, and leafy green salads all provide satisfying crunch to a snack or a meal.

Don’t Drink Cold
drinking cold or iced drinks with hot meals can be a shock to your system and cause your digestive tract to fail in it’s primary function. Room temperature or cool drinks are better to consume with meals than cold or iced drinks. Hot tea or lemon water is even better with hot meals as the temperature changes within the body as you swallow are not as drastic, and the warmth invigorates the digestive system.

This was a difficult change for me, I admit. I noticed a difference in my personal weight loss when I stopped drinking iced drinks with meals, and that has spurred me on to maintain the practice of having warm or room temperature drinks with meals. Iced tea for me is relegated to in between meals when all I want is something to drink.

These little tricks to bettering your diet have worked for me to greater and lesser degrees. Try them out and see if they don’t help you, too.

— Ann Cathey

Add Color to Your Diet

Break away from the American tendency to eat brown and white. Meat and potatoes are great in moderation, but you need something more to help maintain your health. Add color to your diet! When grocery shopping, be sure to put at least five different colors of produce in your cart. This is a handy way to ensure nutritional benefits for the coming week.

Some examples:

Avocados
Avocados are a creamy source of heart-healthy fats, as well as non-animal proteins.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes contain lycopene, the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red coloration. Lycopene may help lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Tomatoes are also a great tasting source of vitamin C.

Oranges
Speaking of vitamin C, oranges are chock full of that immunity-boosting vitamin.

Grapefruit
While not a favorite on everyone’s list, grapefruit is not only a vitamin C bearing citrus, some research suggests that it may help to lower “bad” cholesterol.

Bananas
Everyone knows that bananas are a good source of potassium, but did you know they are also full of B6, a vitamin that helps your body convert food into energy?

Cantaloupe
Sweet and juicy, these melons are high in vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy eyes.

 

Use these examples to make wise choices in the foods you purchase and eat. Adding color to your diet will add not only appealing visuals, but an assortment of vitamins and minerals!

–Ann Cathey

Low-carb Doesn’t Mean No-carb

What I am writing to share with readers today is based on my own experiences with the various doctors and nutritionists I have worked with for my own heath needs. I have also done quite a bit of research into food alternatives to help me maintain my health. Not all of this information will have bearing on your personal dietary requirements, but it is my hope to put some of the mystery into layman’s terms to help those who in similar positions to my own.

Low-carb does not mean no-carb. Carbohydrates are a building block of the body, but American cuisine has seemingly gone overboard with carb heavy foods like white potatoes, high fructose corn syrup, and refined flour products. It’s not that these things are bad in and of themselves, but they they are overconsumed, lending to the high rates of obesity and diabetes in America.

Be aware of the carbs you choose. Whole foods such as yams, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds are all good sources of carbohydrates. They can assist in controlling blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels and keeping glucose under control.

Flavoring your dishes with fresh or dried herbs and spices can also add a healthy boost to your food. Rather than using chemical enhancements, try ground cinnamon or clove, zested citrus peel, even banana or applesauce to add flavors to sweet dishes. Likewise, for savory dishes there are a wide range of spices and herbs available. Green, leafy herbs such as oregano, rosemary and sage offer additional mineral and vitamin boosts to your cooking.

Opting for whole wheat or multi-grain alternatives to regular pastas and breads may give you a different texture than you are used to, but it will also offer you lower crabs and higher fiber intake.

Nuts and seeds are a great way to boost flagging energy levels. Many varieties improve arteries, lower LDL cholesterol, and are loaded with protein, heart-healthy fats and other beneficial nutrients. A serving is about one ounce – roughly the amount that fits on the palm of your hand in a single layer. Be careful not to over indulge as they are calorie-dense.

Keep in mind, when you are looking at the nutrition panel on a snack to check both the carbohydrates and the dietary fiber numbers. Subtract the amount of dietary fiber from the number of carbs to get a better idea of what your working carb intake will be from consuming the item.

The term ‘gluten-free’ is another label that might fool the unwary carb-counter. It’s surprising to see that the carb levels in gluten-free foods are close to the counts in ‘regular’ foods, and in many cases higher. Keep an eye on these numbers when you are making choices for your individual dietary needs.

In general, try to be aware of what you are putting into your body,a dn how it may help or hurt your personal well being.

— Ann Cathey