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At first glance some of these diet tips may seem downright silly. You may find yourself thinking, “That’s couldn’t possibly make enough of a difference. Plus I’d feel silly doing it.” I have a response to those negative thoughts. First, the longest journey begins with a single step. And second, would you rather feel silly being overweight and unfit or doing something about it?
Diet Tip 1: Fidget
Every little movement burns calories. Twiddle your thumbs. Squeeze one of those little exercise balls while you watch TV to burn calories and tone your arms at the same time. Take that more distant parking spot. Walk wherever possible. Even if you have physical limitations, you can tailor a program to your needs. Move whatever you can, whenever and wherever you can. And just think - laughing is good exercise. It’s like jogging on the inside.
Diet Tip 2: Portions and Proportions
Pay attention to portion sizes according to the eating plan you choose. Use a normal size plate – don’t supersize it! One plan suggests that ¼ of the plate should contain protein and the rest should be fruits and vegetables. You can weigh your food, at least until you become attuned to proper portion sizes or use some of the simple guidelines like “3 oz. of protein is about the size of your palm or a deck of playing cards” or “one serving of rice is the size of a tennis ball”.
Diet Tip 3: Eat More Slowly
This allows your body the several minutes it takes to signal your brain that it is full.
Diet Tip 4: Substitute Low Calorie Density Foods for High
Choose foods with a low calorie density – foods that have fewer calories relative to their weight. “If you decrease the energy density of your diet, caloric intake will decline”, says Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University and co-author along with Robert Barnett of The Volumetrics Eating Plan.
Think lower cal fruits, vegetables like salad greens and broths. What these foods have in common is the magic diet ingredient, water! Water has zero calories, so the more volume represented by water, the less room there is for calories. Water also creates a feeling of fullness, helping one to eat less.
Fiber is another low calorie density food. In this category, we again find many fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, such as whole wheat bread or pasta, whole grain cereals and brown rice. A study at Tufts University in Boston found that increasing daily fiber intake by 14 grams resulted in a 10% decrease in total calorie intake and a weight loss averaging one pound a month. This is a very small diet change to make. Substitute about 28 calories of fiber for some high calorie density food you have been eating.
Diet Tip 5: Be Aware of What You Eat
Keep a food diary (and be brutally honest – no one else needs to see it). Don’t forget the spoon that you licked while putting away the leftovers or the sampling(s) you had while adjusting the seasoning. The purpose is not only to monitor your food intake but to identify what circumstances tempt you to overeat or eat unhealthily. Keep a food diary long enough and patterns will start to emerge.
Diet Tip 6: Try New Spices and Herbs in Place of Butter and Salt
Try some new spices and herbs and cut back on the butter and salt. You might be surprised to learn the antioxidant strength of some herbs – another reason to add more to your diet. When food tastes different or more flavorful, we tend to savor it more and eat more slowly.
Diet Tip 7: Add Variety
Along the same lines, The American Dietetic Association recommends increasing variety. Occasionally adding a single new food to your routine can end monotony and increase nutrition.
This year's ADA "Get a Taste for Nutrition" campaign suggests adding a new fruit, vegetable or grain to your shopping list each week. Among its suggestions: kumquat, passion fruit and pomegranate for fruits; kohlrabi, bok choy, jicama and parsnip from the vegetable aisle; and quinoa, flaxseed, amaranth and bulgur for new grains.
This article is for informational purposes only. It does not purport to offer medical advice.
Jean Bowler may be contacted at http://www.ageless-beauty.com . Click here to view more of their articles. Ms Bowler has been an educator all her life. In addition to being a school teacher, she has also taught ballet and aerobics and has been a personal trainer.