The key to lasting behavior change is making small changes, gradually. Try adding one or two of these things to your routine each week and see how you feel at the end of the year.
1. Use applesauce, pureed bananas or sweet juices, instead of oil, when baking (When my son was little I used prune juice—for obvious reasons—instead of oil when I made brownies)
2. Use cooking spray instead of oil for frying
3. Limit meals eaten out to 1 per week and/or order lower-fat options such as grilled or broiled meats, especially chicken and fish
4. Eat meats which are low in fat–Top round instead of chuck roast
5. Try to eat at least once every three to four hours. This helps keep your metabolism up and reduce sugar munching.
6. Before snacking, ask yourself if you are hungry, or just bored, stressed, sleepy etceteras. This is one of the biggest traps of students and shift workers, because the cues for stress and hunger are so similar, often their body is too tired to accurately differentiate.
7. Be aware that fat-free substitutions often have just as many calories as their whole-fat counterparts, the calories just come from carbohydrates
8. Rinse and blot the fat from meats before adding to recipes
9. Cut excess fat off of meat before cooking
10. When cooking a turkey, skin it, cut off all excess fat (especially from the back) then cook in a baking bag
11. Combine meat with cooked lentils in a ratio of 3 parts meat to 1 part lentils. This increases fiber as well as helping your budget.
12. Use oatmeal, potato flakes, cornmeal for fillers in ground meat
13. Ground turkey is often higher in fat than lean ground beef, so read the label
14. Use 1% buttermilk instead of heavy cream in recipes
15. Use butter substitute or chicken broth in vegetable dishes instead of real butter
16. Blot pizza and other high fat meals with a napkin
17. Use skim milk instead of water in low-fat brownie recipes
18. Keep fresh fruit in the house
19. Keep chocolate, cookies etc. out of the house or in a locked cabinet
20. Do not use food to reward good behavior or comfort yourself when stressed or depressed
21. Add only half of your normal amount of butter or fats to your food
22. Use cooking spray instead of oil to sauté your food
23. Instead of oil in baking recipes, use the same amount of unsweetened applesauce
24. Keep water extra cold and try to drink from a larger cup or bottle
25. Add oats, dehydrated potato flakes, chopped onions or tomato paste to beef for a filler
26. Mix 1/4 c. Soy flour with regular flour
27. Make casseroles with vegetables in them
28. Make italian dishes “primavera” with carrots, zucchini and green peppers
29. Constantly have a water bottle with you
30. Limit fried food to only one meal per week
31. Find out exactly what your meals are made from (1/4 c. Oil is used to coat the pan for every small pizza + oil in the dough) EEEW! That will stop you dead in your tracks much of the time.
32. Try and eat at least one balanced meal each day with every food group represented
33. Don't get in a rut eating the same thing every day
34. Get a dinner group together. One person cooks a healthy meal for everyone each night and everyone takes a turn.
35. Learn about a new food and three recipes for it: lentils for instance
36. Challenge yourself to eat as many different colors each day as you can (yellow, orange, brown, white, green, blue, red, purple )
37. Try eating vegetarian for a day–and getting all of your food groups represented.
38. Pack snacks like trail mix, dried fruit, 1/2 peanut butter & jelly, cereal bars etc.
39. Don't buy in bulk if you tend to eat the whole package of whatever it is.
40. Get a microwave popcorn popper and make your own popcorn so you can control the salt and fat
41. Try and drink a 32 oz. glass of water with lunch and dinner, more if you tend to consume caffeine or alcohol
42. Drinking 1 gallon of ice-cold water burns 200 calories …just do not do it right after exercising
43. If you want to eat junk-food, split it with a friend
44. Keep fresh vegetable salads in the refrigerator: cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, sliced bell peppers in fat free dressing or red wine vinegar and a few packets of sweetener.
45. List your favorite foods and find healthier alternatives: either reduced in fat or sugar
46. Dress-up vegetables with melted low-fat cheese, lemon juice or 2 tablespoons of a “sauce” made from fat free or reduced fat cream soups heated with only 1/4 the required water
47. Use plain yogurt instead of sour cream
48. Watch condiment use, they are high in salt
49. When cooking meat, rinse the fat off of it half-way through the cooking process
50. Read the labels to find out how much sugar and fat is in your food
51. Do not cook vegetables until they are limp and dull in color. Vitamins are gone then.
52. When you are served food with butter patches in the “juice” you know it is high in fat
53. Red sauces are much lower in fat than white or cream sauces
54. Avoid breaded, fried or sautéed foods. Opt for boiled, broiled or baked in own juice.
55. Be careful how much butter and sour cream you use on baked potatoes–it adds up fast
56. If you can set a muffin, role, piece of pizza or brownie on a napkin for 20 seconds and it forms a grease stain, it is probably extremely fat laden–approach modestly.
57. Too much protein actually prevents bones from absorbing calcium. The average person needs roughtly 1/2gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. The average American eats 1 1/2grams per pound per day…overkill
58. Caffeine inhibits the absorption of iron
59. Make foods you like–if that is limited, find creative ways to prepare them–add soy protein powder in a ratio of 1:4 to baking mix, use egg whites only and use apple sauce instead of oil to make healthy muffins or pancakes.
60. Vegetarian does not mean low fat., Low fat means less than 5 grams of fat per serving
61. Take a cooking class to improve your culinary skills
62. Take a multi-vitamin
63. Keep a food diary to see exactly what you eat
64. Make index cards representing each one serving for all servings from every food group (i.e. 11 grain cards, 4 vegetable cards, 4 fruit cards etc.) Each time you eat a food group, take a card from the pile. This is also a good way to help kids learn to eat balanced meals.
65. Use colored cards representing different foods, select one of every color for each meal
66. Green = vegetables, brown = grains, white = dairy etc.. For meals with multiple types of foods, like lasagna, the card should be multiply coded.
67. Vitamins and antioxidants in foods work synergistically, so they need to be eaten in combination. Eating all of your vegetables for the week in one day just won't cut it.
68. Excessive amounts of protein can prevent the proper absorption of calcium
69. Eat in color! The darker the food, the more nutrient dense. Try to have at least 3 different colors on your plate at each meal.
70. Too much simple sugar on one day can leave you feeling sluggish throughout the next day, so try to satisfy that sweet tooth with a piece of fruit. It is higher in fiber so you will feel full and you will not “crash” as hard.