Saturday, January 7, 2012

saving calories

The New Year has come and gone.  The festivities are over, the days are getting longer and we're one week into what for many people is the annual self torture of resolutions.  As I've mentioned before I really don't like the word resolution.  It seems hard and finite and often is a rather amorphous concept.  "I resolve to lose 10 pounds"  "I resolve to go to the gym more often"  and other statements.  There's no strategy of how it's going to happen, no defined timeline and if you don't succeed you feel like you've failed.

It may seems like splitting hairs but I prefer the term goal.  The goal outlines what you hope to achieve.  And if you don't quite get there that doesn't mean you have to give up in dejected defeat.

Because so many people struggle with their weight at this time of year that tends to be one of the more common health goals I hear.  I'd like to start by sharing that weight loss is more than just eating less.  It's about changing habits, moving more, changing mindsets and, yes, eating less.  But there are ingrained habit that need to change.

Spend some time focusing on mindful eating (chew, be grateful for your food, enjoy your food, take time with your meal, and chew [yes I repeated that one, it's important and many of use don't chew enough]).   Mindful eating helps us to better digest our food in so many ways from making sure that we are breaking down the food, getting adequate salivary enzymes, and also having our body in a calm focused place to be able to digest.  Liz Lipski, the Digestive Wellness guru, tells us that we often fuel our bodies the way we fuel our cars....stop, gas, go.  She's right.  The next time you sit down to a meal stop a moment and recognize how you are eating.  Most of you will discover that you are rushing through your meal and if you take a few extra moments you will feel better and calmer.

Move more.  If you have a car and it just sits in the driveway and never goes anywhere when you eventually need it the tires are cracked and dry, the engine fluids are gummy and don't lubricate well and the car may not function the way it is supposed to.  That car is a metaphor for our bodies.  Use them and they stay active and functioning.  This is nothing you don't already know but sometimes we just need a reminder.  Park a little further away at the grocery store.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Sign up for a physical movement class or find a free one on DVD or the internet.  You'll feel better and your body will be burning calories which can help with weight management.

vegetable broth | photo: Takeaway
I also like give you a few ways to make small measurable food changes that can add up, helping you to shed pounds:

  1. Consider changing your plate size.  We often cue in to the size of the plate to help us determine how much food to put on it.  If you use a smaller plate you often take less food but find yourself just as satisfied.  
  2. Consider changing your plate altogether.  Slimware is a company that sells some really attractive plates that have designs on them that are portion controlled.  This visual cue can help you learn how to choose portion sizes over serving sizes.
  3. Choose salsa instead of queso.  That cheesy dip or melted cheese topping adds up to a lot of calories and a lot of fat.  Substituting salsa for some, or all, of the cheese not only saves calories it adds delicious flavor.  A baked potato with black beans and salsa is one of my favorites and really needs no cheese or sour cream.
  4. Looking for something crunchy?  Forego the corn chips and snack mix.  Try air popped popcorn instead.  With a tiny bit of melted butter or coconut oil, a hint of salt and some spices you've got a great crunchy snack that doesn't have nearly the same caloric count.  Be sure to choose organic popcorn to avoid any potential GM contamination.
  5. Add a cup of soup to your dinnertime routine.  A delicious strong stock with veggies and herbs or even a tomato based veggie soup is a great way to get your digestion going but also to help fill your tummy.   Barbara Rolls, a Ph.D. at Penn State shares that  "Eating a 100-calorie bowl of broth-based the start of a meal takes the edge off your hunger. Even with the extra course ... you are likely to eat fewer total calories during the meal."
  6. Remember the Three Polite Bite Rule.  If you are going to have dessert have just three polite bites.  You'll get enough to satisfy that sweet tooth without overdoing the sugar intake.
Step-by-step small meaningful changes can add up to a healthier you.

Interested in making more changes?  Anyone who leaves a comment and their email address on the blog will receive a free copy of my "Eating Out - Eating Healthy" ebook.



Justin Isaacs said...

Thanks Mira - I love reading your posts!

Anonymous said...

Always interesting to read your posts. I appreciated this one because I am working on some new goals myself! Thanks!

Jen S. said...

I like to the plates, such a neat idea. You always find the most amazing the veggie bags, the BPA free canning lids and ice cream molds as well as those neat straws.

Thank you for the tips and reminding me that our goals need a plan. I fell into that trap many times.

All the best for the New Year!!

Meg said...

Hi Mira,
Love your blog!

Hint about smaller plates is great. I collect vintage dishes and the plates that are routinely smaller, which does makes portions look bigger. Also, choose taller, slimmer glasses and mini-sized, clear wineglasses.

One thing though, 3 polite bites and leave the rest of dessert? Well, for me that's not realistic (and wastes food). Instead, I ask for a half-portion and enjoy every bit of it. If you crave dessert, go for something intense and tiny, then get up and leave the table.

Hope you had a happy New Year!

Vicki said...

I, too, dislike the idea of resolutions. I think life is all about changing to be the best person I can be - all the time - not just at the beginning of a new yaer. I really like the Slimware idea! I am all about stylish . . .

Mira Dessy said...

Hi need to leave your email address so I can send the ebook. Either that or make your post open so I can link back to your ID.

AJ Normand said...

When I got my "good china" I purchased the luncheon plates (bigger than dessert plates, slightly smaller than dinner plates and honestly, all I could afford). Really helped with portion control. Also for big holiday meals, I have the dishes passed around, then placed on a sideboard so it took more effort for seconds. No one was denied, as the plates were small - but it took more thought. After a while I would put food in kitchen, always inviting family to go and get more if they wanted.

AJ Normand said...

Are you on facebook? It would be easier to share with my friends that way.

Mira Dessy said...

Hi AJ, yes I am on Facebook. You can find my page at

If you're interested I'm also on twitter @grainsnmore

Sam said...

I like the vintage plate idea. I have NO will power over sweets, three bites? HA! Any suggestions on that front? Can you do a series on hidden sugars in foods? And thier various names? I have a diabetic in the family and get very frustrated trying to cut back on the sugars.

And I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

All good information, thanks.

Mira Dessy said...

The three bite rule is hard to get used to, especially when it is the holidays or a special occasion. Sometimes sharing a dessert with one or more people (I have seen restaurant slices of cake that could easily feed four or more people) is one way to do it. Another, when presented with a buffet of desserts, is to step back, figure out what you really want to eat, and then have just that one thing.
Most people find that their major satisfaction with dessert comes from the first three bites. After that the reward ratio (how much you enjoy it) diminishes. Don't deprive yourself, enjoy it, but just limit yourself. Takes practice but it does work.

Jen S. said...

I thought this link might be interesting. It speaks to the correlation of microbes in the gut and diabetes/metabolic disease in mice.