I was in the grocery store the other day and I saw a very overweight woman and her young daughter (also overweight) in the checkout line. Their cart was loaded up with Twinkies, chips, ice cream, candy, donuts and all manner of snack foods.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to tell her how awful all the sugar and fat and processed goop was for her and her daughter. Of course, I didn’t because it wasn’t my place. But YOU are a different story. You are here, reading this blog because you are trying to TAKE ACTION and make positive changes in your life. So I can tell you. THAT STUFF IS TERRIBLE FOR YOU!!!
I guess I felt sad for that woman because, while I never filled my shopping cart with that kind of stuff, I still understood her. She was looking for comfort. She was looking for quick. She was giving in to what her children wanted to eat and let’s face it, they would eat rocks if they tasted yummy and you said they couldn’t have them. Deep down, she probably knew she shouldn’t be buying any of that stuff, but the sad truth is, she probably didn’t know what to buy instead. What she needed (and maybe you need this too) were some ideas on how to make small changes in her diet to get her feeling better physically and to start to focus on a healthier way of eating. Baby steps.
I’ve told you about some of the plans I’ve tried that have worked (The 4 Day Diet, Paleo, Atkins), but let’s discuss baby steps first. Sometimes starting a full on plan can feel so daunting. Let’s see if we can find some small changes you can live with to kick off your weight loss journey that won’t send you into a panic-induced seizure. Maybe pick one or two of these to try for a week and then add more baby steps as you go along.
Pasta, Rice and Bread
Who doesn’t love pasta in all its many shapes and sizes and sauces? Or rice with a nice stir fry? Or a lovely sandwich? But the white stuff, it ain’t so great. Decide which baby step you can live with.
Simple Swap: Switch to whole wheat or brown rice pasta and to brown rice instead of white. Skip creamy white sauces and go with tomato-based sauce. Try 100-calorie multigrain or whole-wheat sandwich thins in place of bread.
Hard Core: Have pasta or rice only once a week. Limit yourself to one piece of whole grain bread daily and have it in the morning so you have all day to get rid of it.
Something about mashed potatoes and gravy or a baked potato with butter and sour cream just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
Simple Swap: Switch from white potato to sweet potato. Totally delicious and way better for you.
Hard Core: Skip potato all together if you are really worried about carbs. But remember, sweet potato is a good carb, full of nutrients, very filling and super yum.
Chips and Other Salty Snacks
Listen, I love love love chips and salsa. But when I eat them, I blow up like a puffer fish and gain 1-2 lbs of water weight. And forget about it if you totally binge on an entire bag, because then you’ll gain water weight AND regular weight.
Simple Swap: Measure out a cup of cherry tomatoes, don’t dry them off and then salt them lightly with sea salt. Or have ½ a bag of 94% fat free popcorn with a tablespoon (NOT A CUP) of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on it.
Hard Core: Skip the salt, but still have the tomatoes. Skip the parm, but still have the popcorn. Do you really want to risk looking like a puffer fish?
Ohhhhhhh ice cream. So delicious, right? I used to sit down with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and eat the whole thing while watching Lost. Have you ever looked at the calorie and fat content of regular, full-fat ice cream? Scary big numbers.
Simple Swap: Get a low fat, no sugar added ice cream or frozen yogurt and measure out ½ cup. Eat it slowly. End of story. Another great frozen treat with ZERO fat and only 25 calories are Dreyer’s All Natural Fruit Bars. They are just fruit and fruit juice. That’s it. See…you could have TWO of them for only 50 calories. Neato, huh?
Hard Core: Try frozen fruit for dessert. I love to buy grapes in season, wash them, dry them, pull them off the stems and throw them into a bowl and freeze them for maybe an hour. They’re like little frozen grape-flavored nuggets. You can also buy bags of frozen fruit at the grocery store. Cherries are particularly good. But make sure you measure out only a cup or so.
Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Donuts, Etc.
If this is your poison, then frozen grapes aren’t gonna cut it. I’ve found some products I really like that, if used moderately, can really satisfy your cravings for this type of stuff.
Simple Swap: Try a Larabar or a Kind bar. They are made with 100% natural ingredients and the ingredients are limited. And you can pronounce all of them. I’m also a huge fan of the Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate cookies. They are made with rolled oats and dark chocolate, which incidentally is full of antioxidants. Have ONE, not the box.
Hard Core: Have ½ of a peanut butter and all-fruit spread sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread. Use 1 tsp of pb and 1 tsp of j.
I never really met a candy I didn’t like. Except maybe the ones you come across in a box of chocolates with the weird white nougat. Blech! I’m a chocolate/caramel/peanut butter/almond kind of girl.
Simple Swap: Mix together about 20 whole, raw almonds with a tablespoon of dried cranberries. Break a Trader Joe’s 100 Calorie dark chocolate bar in half and eat ONE half with the almonds and cranberries. Yum!
Hard Core: The hard core here would be to not have anything. But don’t do that! Why suffer? Go do the Simple Swap instead.
Don’t Drink Your Calories!
Both juice and alcohol are high in calories and they’re empty calories at that. Also, alcohol could (could? WILL) dull your senses and make you more prone to drive through Taco Bell late at night and get a Crunch Wrap Supreme, a Burrito Supreme and two of those cheesy roll up things. Or something like that.
Simple Swap: For juice, get reduced sugar, reduced calorie brands and only consume 8 oz a day. For alcohol, choose white wine, which is only 80-90 calories for a 5 oz glass. But don’t be like me and have three 5 oz glasses. Just one please.
Hard Core: Have ice water with lemon all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. I drink 120 oz a day of this. It flushes your system and makes your skin look purdy. If I go out and want to make sure I don’t have too many glasses of wine, I might get a seltzer water with a splash of Rosa’s lime. Yes, you can add the vodka if you feel super good about an extra 103 calories.
So…baby steps. Try one or two and see how you do. It’s not really that hard. Just start small. BUT…too much of even good things will not help you lose weight. Everything in moderation. A CUP of brown rice pasta with marinara sauce…not a vat. ONE Kashi cookie…not the whole box. Get used to living with small portions of healthier foods. After all, you can’t eat like it’s your birthday every day. Choose wisely, start small. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Got it?
I’d love to hear from you about what baby steps you are taking. Feel free to post a comment here on the blog or on Facebook.
Way to go for TAKING ACTION!