Toni is a registered dietitian nutritionist who motivates women through her personal story and professional experience. She has put together 10 tips, exclusively for the Monday dieter readers, that have helped her break free from dieting . If you’re looking for extra inspiration today…take a look!
Thank you, Toni!
10 Simple Strategies to Commit to a Healthy Lifestyle
Why do we “go on a diet”? To feel better? To lose weight? To gain more energy? To clear our skin? To prevent having to purchase new clothes? There are numerous reasons why people go on a diet, but I am going to challenge you stop, no matter what the reason. Why? Because anything you do temporarily will only provide temporary results. If you are trying to lose weight and want to keep it off for good or simply want to live a more energized and nutritious life then committing to a healthy lifestyle will be the best way to do so. This commitment rids the feeling of restriction, which stops the pattern of over or undereating and allows you to achieve a healthy body and mind. Losing weight and/or eating healthy on a consistent basis can be a challenge but when done the right way, the challenge becomes easier. As a Registered Dietitian, I help people do this by using the ten effective strategies below. My challenge to you: start with 1 out of 10, make it a habit, and then try another!
- Eat about 4-5 servings of non-starchy vegetables daily: Vegetables are low in calories, nutrient dense, have a high water content and are high in fiber, so you will be less likely to overeat when your meals/snacks include vegetables. One serving of vegetables = 1 cup cooked or 2 cups raw.
- Drink more water: Sometimes we think we are hungry but we are actually just thirsty. Oh, and did you know that when you are feeling thirsty you are already dehydrated? Staying adequately hydrated is essential for your health and can help you to lose weight as well. Aim for half of your body weight in fluid ounces. For example, if you weigh 180lbs, you need a minimum of 90fl oz. of water per day (about 11 cups). Don’t forget to add an additional cup of water for every 30 minutes of exercise!
- Eat more (of the right foods), not less: By selecting more foods in their natural form, your body’s metabolism will begin to regulate itself. Limit processed foods with a laundry list of ingredients you cannot pronounce or understand and limit foods with added salt, sugar, and fat. Quality of calories is more important than calories in general. Some people are hesitant to eat an entire avocado (about 300 calories of healthy, natural fats) but have no issue eating a pint of ice cream. Alternatively, they may choose to eat a 100-calorie pack of cookies instead of apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut butter (~150 calories). Although the apples with peanut butter is higher in calories than, the apples with peanut butter will provide your body with essential nutrients and fiber, which will curb your appetite more than the cookies would. The take away? Incorporate more whole foods first and then worry about portion control and balance later.
- Once you have strategy #3 down pat, then it is time to start calculating calories: Remember that every source of food contains calories and calories (kcal) are a measure for energy. We need energy to help us function and focus on our day-to-day tasks and we may need additional calories depending on our activity level, but we do not need too many calories if we spend a majority of our day sitting. The idea is to try to consume less calories than you are physically burning. On the other hand, be careful not to eat too little because your metabolism will eventually slow down to compensate. Additionally, consuming less than 1200 calories per day may mean you are not getting enough of the micronutrients and antioxidants, which help to prevent many chronic diseases and vitamin/mineral deficiencies.
- Sleep: Are you getting enough? Our bodies need to recharge and the best way to help us do that is by getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. When we are tired, our bodies will look for energy (calories) from food or drinks and usually not the healthy kinds. For example, when you are feeling sluggish it may be hard to say “no, thank you” to the “junk food” offered by a co-worker or you may be more likely to hit up the vending machine for some candy to give you an energy boost!
- Get rid of poor dietary habits like skipping meals/dining out to eat more days than not: Although dining out to eat or ordering in fits in some cases, most of the time it is difficult to know how the food is prepared, thus challenging to know how many calories, fat, salt, or sugar is in what you are consuming. Cooking from home allows you to control portions, control additives/preservatives, and bring a sense of accomplishment, which is sure to lift your mood. Aim for three balanced meals per day with small snacks in between to increase the metabolism and decrease the probability of over-eating.
- Use scales and measuring cups or your hand to assess portions: Using scales and measuring cups may not be necessary or realistic long term however in the beginning it can be a useful tool to get a better understanding of how many calories you are actually consuming. It is important to read the nutrition facts label and note that the serving size is just a suggestion; your portion can be bigger or smaller depending on what else you had that day or what you are having with it.
- Get a tracking device for exercise: Find out how many calories you are actually burning in your Zumba® class! On average, how many steps are you taking daily? If one of your goals is to be more active then you can set these devices to those goals and it will send you daily reminders to keep you on track with your goals.
- Keep a food diary: “If you can track it, you can change it.” Just like tracking your exercise routine can be helpful, tracking your food and beverage intake can be helpful as well. Keeping a food diary will give you an opportunity to be mindful and aware of your food intake. It will keep you accountable and after about a week of tracking, you can look back on your dietary patterns and adjust to meet your goals/needs.
- Meet with a nutrition profession: To provide additional ideas and strategies to help you succeed!
Toni Marinucci, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
(516) 864 – 1686