We’ve all heard this one before — if you drink whole milk, switch to 2%, if you drink 2% switch to 1%, and if you drink 1%, switch to non-fat. See how they compare per eight-ounce glass of each:
Even though the calories, fat, saturated fat and cholesterol are greatly reduced as you go down the list, each type of milk still supplies eight grams of protein and 300 milligrams of calcium per serving.
Each week, have at least one meatless dinner. The possibilities are endless. Try vegetarian chili over whole-wheat pasta, steamed vegetables and stir-fried tofu over brown rice, or experiment with some of the soy-based burgers on the market. Better yet, buy a vegetarian cookbook and come up with your own ideas. Most Americans eat far too much meat. Not only do we eat it too often, the portions we eat are way too large. A serving of beef, chicken or pork is two or three ounces, about the size of a deck of cards. Depending on your calorie needs, you need between two or three servings per day. That 12-ounce porterhouse served at the local steakhouse counts as four to six servings! Keep in mind that you can also choose meat “alternatives” such as legumes, peanut butter and soy-based products, which supply you with the same nutrients as meat, without the cholesterol and little to no artery-clogging saturated fat. One ounce of meat is equivalent to one-half cup of legumes or two tablespoons of peanut butter.
If you eat lunch away from home, pack a lunch at least two days a week, preferably three. You can keep it simple by making a healthy sandwich, then round it out with some low- or non-fat yogurt and a piece of fruit. Make sure to use whole-grain bread for the sandwich, go easy on the mayonnaise, use low- or non-fat mayonnaise, or forgo the mayo all together and use a fancy style mustard. Load up on the veggies; use sliced tomatoes, red pepper, shredded carrots, spinach leaves and then a thin slice of cheese. You can add some sliced meats if you like, but make sure it is a lean cut, and do not put more than two ounces on the sandwich. If you don’t have time to make this type of sandwich, make a quick PBB — peanut butter and banana! Simply spread one or two tablespoons of peanut butter on whole-grain bread, and add one half of a large banana, cut in slices. In most cases you are much better off packing your own food for lunch. Deli sandwiches are typically loaded with fatty meats, too much cheese, gobs of mayo and only a little bit of iceberg lettuce.
If you do not ordinarily eat breakfast or if you only eat a donut and coffee because you don’t have time in the morning, set your alarm 10 minutes earlier three days of the week and make yourself a healthy breakfast. Oatmeal is a great choice, but steer clear of the pre-packaged, sugar-sweetened variety and instead buy some old-fashioned oats. There is plenty you can do to make them more exciting on your own. For example, add a half of a sliced banana, some blueberries or strawberries. This will give the oatmeal natural sweetness.
A sprinkle of cinnamon or a few drops of maple extract can also spice it up a bit. Top it off with non-fat milk and you are off to a great start first thing in the morning. If oatmeal doesn’t appeal to you, have low- or non-fat yogurt and stir in some low sugar, high-fiber cereal (all bran, cheerios, raisin bran, etc.). Add a piece of fruit and you’ll have a great, well-balanced breakfast. Eating breakfast will jump-start your metabolism and keep you from heading to the vending machine at 10 a.m.
Purchase a vegetable steamer, and use it every day at dinnertime (or at least five days per week). By steaming vegetables, you can retain almost all the nutrients in the vegetables. They will keep their color and flavor, yet you do not have to add any fat in the cooking process. Do not overcook the vegetables; you want them to keep a little crunch. If you cannot tolerate plain veggies, add some fresh or dried herbs, fresh lemon juice or even a few drops of sesame oil (works best with broccoli or Asian-style veggies) to the water before steaming. This will give the vegetables extra flavor. Refrain from adding butter or margarine to the vegetables once they are cooked.
Remember that small changes in your diet can make a difference. Adopting healthy eating habits is a much better, and in the long term, more successful approach to weight loss than short-term diets!