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Posted on May 25, 2011 in Weight Loss, Weight Loss 101 | 20 comments

Weight Loss 101: 10 Healthy Diet Tips

Catching up? Check out my previous Weight Loss 101 posts to see how to begin your weight loss journey.

I know I’ve touched briefly on some healthful eating tips in the past, but I wanted to take the time to offer an actual list of go-to tips for you to potentially utilize in your new lifestyle change. After all, screw the cliche, that’s what this is! I offer my apologies in advance if any of this seems repetitive or just kind of like, duh, to you. But not everyone may know what you already know. And with that being said, let’s begin:

1. Sub whole wheat for white.

This one’s kind of a no-brainer, let’s be honest. Eat whole grains! White breads and pastas simply cannot compare nutritionally to the brown stuff. Just do it.

“But Gretchen!” you’re saying, “a slice of whole wheat bread and white bread has the same amount of calories!” Well, you’re right. But while you may not be saving on calories by making the switch, you are getting more bang for your buck nutritionally, which means more fiber to help you stay full longer. Full longer = less unnecessary eating = no weight gain. Win-win-win! Just remember: “Multi-grain” is not the same thing. Go whole or go home.

My tip if you’re iffy about the heartier texture of whole wheat pasta: overcook it slightly. Overcooking the pasta will break down the starches more so it has a softer texture that more closely resembles white pasta.

2. Embrace green.

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Kermit the Frog may believe it’s not easy being green, but I say it’s hella easy to get your greens. Spinach, romaine, arugula, collard, chard, kale, turnip greens, heck — I even hear good things about dandelion greens and they are literally right in your backyard! Salad ’em, steam ’em, stir-fry ’em, toss ’em in a smoothie, let ’em wilt under a plate of hot pasta… whatever floats your green boat! I personally am going to try incorporating steamed greens into what I have officially crossed over to say is The Most Important Meal of the Day. Enter tip number three:

3. Eat breakfast.

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Back during my life as Old Gretchen, I never ate breakfast. After all, I thought, I’m not hungry right when I wake up! Why waste the calories by forcing myself to eat?

Well newsflash, Old Gretchen: eating breakfast rocks. It kickstarts that metabolism that went to sleep when, uh, you went to sleep (duh! Why do you think it’s called break… wait for it… fast? IT BREAKS YOUR FAST.) And as long as you’re eating a balanced breakfast (I’m not talking Poptarts here, people.) it will keep you satiated throughout the morning and less likely to binge on crap at lunch. I used to try to go as long as possible without eating, thinking that I was burning tons of calories by depriving myself of food until 2 or 3 PM. And then I would be so ravenous by the time I finally did eat that I’d OVEReat pretty much anything I could get my hands on. Not quite the genius plan, amiright? A balanced breakfast should include fiber and protein. Think eggs, cottage cheese, oats, or whole grain cereal (If you’re like me and always rushing in the morning, try keeping a box of Kashi Go Lean and some milk at work!)

4. Fat is your friend.

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I know, I know. You’ve been told your entire life that fat is the enemy. Fat is why you’re fat. Well, let me just debunk that myth right here and now. Fat is integral to being able to feel full and satisfied after a meal! Just try to ensure they are predominantly the healthy kind, kay? Always utilize common sense and portioning, but don’t hesitate to embrace nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, nut butters, etc. When it comes to losing weight, my body responds much, much better to a diet higher in (healthy) fat than one high in sugar (which is usually what you get if you’re eating a lot of “fat-free”, “low-fat” stuff.) Which brings us to number six…

6. Eat less sugar.

Death by Chocolate.

Sugar. Oh, honey, honey. Sigh. Sugar is delicious, there’s no two ways about it. And sugar is in everything. And a little sugar here and there is perfectly fine. No, not even just fine, it’s necessary (for me, at least!) But foods that are high in sugar come at a price. Sugar is your body’s first source of fuel. So if you’re like me, and you have a job where you sit on your glutes for 8+ hours a day and aren’t leading an incredibly active lifestyle outside of that… well, your body doesn’t exactly have a need for all that fuel, does it? So what happens? It gets stored away for the day that you are in dire need of it — stranded on a deserted island with nary a coconut in sight, or pioneering across the country in a covered wagon between buffalo kills. And it’s being stored as fat. The bad kind of fat. The kind that sits on your thighs and arms and around that oh-how-I-wish-it-were-even-a-2-pack midsection. Pay attention to the grams of sugar in your foods. Lower = better. Zero = best. Oh, but just for the record, fruit doesn’t really count IMO. I say fruit for everyone! πŸ™‚

7. Dress your salad lightly.

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This tip actually comes from my friend Meredith, so I can’t take credit (though believe me, I’d like to!)

So, you’re on a “diet”. Despite my feelings about the true meaning of that word, let’s just accept it. And as such, you are probably well-versed in the art of eating salads. It’s pretty much a “diet” staple, am I right? Well, I’m about to turn your dieting world upside down. Whether you’re at home or at a restaurant, forget about the whole concept of “dressing on the side”. Instead, ask for your salad “lightly dressed”, or measure out your dressing carefully using, yes, measuring spoons. If you have a container of dressing on the side, the chances are you’re going to end up using the entire amount in the container anyway which is almost always a much larger portion than you need. There’s nothing wrong with spicing up a bed of greens with a little flavor, just make sure you’re not drowning in it.

Additional tip: hummus makes a fabulous salad “dressing”. Forgo the oil & vinegar and just plop a little bit on top of your salad or include a smidge with every forkful. Super flavorful and super good for you!

8. Find a substitute for your junk food triggers.

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I am a chips girl, plain and simple. If given the opportunity, I could demolish an entire party-sized bag of Lays. Oh yes, that sucker would be crushed in a matter of minutes. But obviously that kind of behavior is not exactly conducive to losing weight. Nevertheless, the cravings do occur. So, what did I do? I found a healthier/less caloric substitute. I’m not saying that Popchips are the healthiest choice. I recognize that they are super processed, so don’t get me wrong here. But, if I’m experiencing a maddening salt-and-fried-potato craving, what’s better? Being able to snack on a 100 calorie, pre-portioned bag of Popchips? Or inhaling an uncontrolled 500 calories of oil-laden, greasy, even-saltier Ruffles? I think we know the answer here.

This rule applies to whatever your own snack food achilles heel may be. Crazy for candy bars? Try a Luna or Larabar instead. Can’t live without chocolate? Try an Attune Probiotic chocolate bar instead of Hershey’s. Mexican food the bane of your diet’s existence? Sub greek yogurt for sour cream! You get the idea.

9. Juice!

I need to get back into juicing like whoa. I was doing awesomely with my weight loss when I was juicing regularly. Having a big, frothy green juice in the morning before breakfast 3 times a week made me feel energized (goodbye coffee!) and helped keep me surprisingly full. Just make sure that if you’re going to be juicing a lot that you’re still getting fiber from other sources throughout the day, since you can’t count whatever fiber there may have been in the fruit/veg that you just juiced. Here’s my foolproof green juice recipe: 1/2 cucumber, 1 green apple, 4 stalks celery, a big bunch of kale or spinach, a slice of lemon, and a sliver of ginger. I am going to need to do some serious produce shopping now. I wanna get my juice on!

I realize that juicers can be another expensive piece of kitchen equipment not everyone has/can get (I stole my mom’s, hehe.) Since a blender is much cheaper, feel free to experiment with fruit & vegetable smoothies instead! My favorite smoothie recipe: a banana, frozen berries, almond milk, milled flaxseed, and spinach.

10. Taste the rainbow.

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This is probably the one healthy eating tip you’ve heard the most, so I’m just shoving it in here at the end to give me a nice even 10 tips in total. And no, do not take my clever wordplay to mean that I’m telling to shove a bag of Skittles down your throat. The general rule is that the more colorful your plate, the better it is for you. Of course, this does not apply to anything that is bright and cheery solely because of Blue #14 or any kind of powdered orange cheese, haha. A colorful plate is more appealing for the eyes, more appetizing for the stomach, and more nutritious for the body. Embrace meals that are comprised of multiple colors: red tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, oranges, purple eggplant, black beans, and green, uh, greens. You know the drill!

And that’s ten! Now, as always, take everything I say with a grain of salt since I am not a nutrition professional, medical doctor, or anything like that. I’m just a girl who has used the above techniques to lose 50 pounds all on by her lonesome. But bear in mind that what worked for me might not work for you! It’s about finding the balance that works with your lifestyle and your body. Good luck!

20 Comments

  1. Great tips! Sugar is my downfall unfortunately. I really need to start watching my intake more, even the fake stuff.

  2. I want a juicer soooo baaaaad. That might be an end-of-the-year, “thank-god-I-didn’t-quit/get fired” gift to myself. πŸ™‚
    Also- YES breakfast!! And YES greens!

  3. Love your tips — I definitely need to work on getting more greens in my life. Spinach I’m ok with, but I hardly ever eat those other ones.

  4. Love this post! I LOVE my fats, too! When I found out I was gluten intolerant, I really had to increase the fats to replace some of the calories I was getting from the grains I can’t have anymore. Have you ever heard of the book “Eat Fat, Lose Fat”? The authors are BIG on coconut, but it’s good stuff and there are some great recipes in there. Now I want an avocado…:)

  5. great post! Simple things that can make a big difference. πŸ™‚ Especially eating fats – i.e. avocado (yum!).

  6. thanks for the shout out! love the tips. one of my downfalls is salt…which means more water retention..not so good. which means after i eat something salty i have to have a sweet. sweet for me these days is something like yogurt, fruit, or a tofutti!

  7. Pastries are my achilles heel. Any kind of pastry too. I’m the fool who thinks that eating one cookie is fine, but then ends up eating four (and I’m talking about the big ones). With cheese, I am definitely better since now just a small sliver can satisfy my craving.
    Now if only my brain could do what it did with cheese to French flaky yumster sweets.

  8. these are great suggestions! Im getting back on the weight lose wagon, and even though some of these are easy said….its not so easy to actually DO IT! haha

  9. I’m catching up on your blog (lots more great posts!) and I’m realizing you live in my area! If you ever want to do a blogger meet up (or know if any in this area) let me know! I’ve been trying to find some, but haven’t had much success. I think it would be fun πŸ™‚

    • very good tips and im with you that fat is integral to being able to feel full and satisfied after a meal,but really we can kill it:)
      thanks

  10. Awesome tips! The hardest for me is embracing green. I usually just keep spinach in the fridge and use it as a base for everything. Soup, salad, sandwich… It’s ok tasting and full of good stuff πŸ™‚

  11. Good tips! Can you do a de-bunking “healthy” myths post for your next weight loss 101? πŸ™‚

    • Way to read my mind! That is already my plan for the next one!!

  12. AWESOME post!
    I struggled with #4 for so long. And you can’t blame me! Low fat, no fat, reduced fat, it seemed like that the world revolved around reducing fat. That was all that was important. But then I started eating healthy fats and felt so much fuller, more satisfied and guess what? I didn’t get fatter.

    Fat does not equal fat.

  13. Cooking Greens Chinese Style is the way to go ….!!

  14. Great tips Gretch! You’re freaking awesome πŸ™‚ I want some sushi!

    • I recommend drinking green tea. I found an exclusive blend that really helped me lose weight, Tea More Skinny…it’s so awesome and its healthy tea…a win-win if you ask me

  15. I have three kids and weighed more than 200 pounds when I delivered them. I felt fat, especially in my belly. I found this tea called Tea More Skinny and I also tried those body wraps on my stomach. I really wanted a natural way to lose weight without too much exercise, I mean I really don’t have time to go to the gym with three kids (they hate that little play room ,LOL). I did try some of those pills and it was a terrible experience for me. When I saw the Tea More Skinny on the internet I was really skeptical but honestly it worked for me. I went from 177 to 155 in less than two months. The tea tastes good, I still drink it. I go to the gym one day a week (Saturday mornings), eat a protein-filled breakfast and eat smaller lunches and dinner. I enjoy your blog and your story too…I hope you like mine!

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