Here are 10 tips that can help improve your health and whittle down your waistline – and none of them comes in a package emblazoned with the words “trans fat free.”
1. “Cut out the C.R.A.P. (Calorie-Rich and Processed) Foods,” insists dietitian Jeff
“Remember what you learned in label class at Pritikin: Don’t believe anything you see on the front of the label – like ‘trans fat free’ or ‘just 100 calories.’ Who cares if there are only 100 calories per package if you’ve got to rip open three or four before you’re full?”
2. Crank up the steps
Numerous studies have found that people who lose weight and keep it off commit to daily physical exercise. In the most comprehensive study of long-term weight control ever conducted, the National Weight Control Registry, scientists are keeping tabs on the habits of more than 5,000 Americans who have lost on average 66 pounds and kept them off for an average of six years. These long-term losers walk on average 60 minutes every day.
3. Get hot first thing in the morning
Hot cooked cereal like oatmeal, Kasha, and Wheatena has about one-fifth the calorie density of dried cereal. Hot cereal has just 300 to 400 calories per pound; dried cereals pack in a whopping 1,400 to 2,000 calories per pound.
By switching your morning bowl of corn flakes for a bowl of hot oatmeal and fruit, you’ll take in approximately 250 fewer calories each day, which means you’d drop about 25 pounds in one year.
4. Snack smart
Trade the chips, cookies, candy, fast food, and other junk snacks for bananas, bean soups, apples, grapes, red bell pepper slices, carrots, peaches, pears, and other fresh fruits and veggies.
The more fruits, veggies, and beans you eat, the more nutrients and fiber you take in, and that’s a very good thing. Fiber lowers your cholesterol, normalizes blood sugar levels, stabilizes insulin, helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, and certain cancers, and, last but not least, helps you fill up on fewer calories so that you can lose weight more easily.
“Fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, in short, are the true stars, or ‘SuperFoods’ of this world, not resveratrol or soy nuts or dark chocolate or pomegranate juice. Foods like these get 15 minutes of fame. Fruit, veggies, beans, and whole grains have had thousands of years of fame,” points out Jeff Novick.
5. Start lunch and dinner with a big salad
In restaurants, in particular, a huge salad full of fresh veggies (and, for dressing, balsamic vinegar or your own concoction, say, of Wasabi and rice vinegar) will help satisfy your appetite so that you’ll tend to eat less of the more calorie-packed fare that follows.
At salad bars, go back for seconds. “Use the ‘Wow’ approach to salad eating,” suggest Jeffrey Novick. “If your salad is not large enough to be creating ‘Wows’ in those around you, then it isn’t big enough!”
6. Shy away from salt
At least 65 million adult Americans have high blood pressure, up from 50 million just 10 years ago, and top health organizations like the Institutes of Medicine have advised us to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium daily. “The food industry has responded by dumping tons of salt (sodium-chloride) into most processed foods like soups, processed meats and cheeses, rice mixes, dried cereals, salad dressings, breads, frozen entrees, canned vegetables, and other convenience foods,” criticizes Dr. Kenney..
Restaurant fare is even scarier. A Dunkin’ Donuts Salt Bagel tallies up 3,030 mg of sodium; a Reuben sandwich at most restaurants, 3,270 mg; Denny’s Lumberjack Slam breakfast, 4,170 vein-popping mg of sodium.
What’s heartening (literally) to know is that the more fresh, unprocessed or minimally processed foods you eat, the less salt you tend to take in. An apple or orange for an afternoon snack, for example, has just 3 mg of sodium. . A McDonald’s Big Mac tallies up a whopping 1,050 mg of sodium.
A baked potato has just 17 mg; a soft pretzel from the food court at the mall, about 1,100 mg.
A cup of oatmeal has 2 mg of sodium; a cup of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, 200 mg.
7. Don’t say “cheese”
Since 1970, Americans’ consumption of cheese has risen 350%. Nowadays, cheese is everywhere, especially in restaurant sandwiches, salads, entrees, pasta sauces, and on and on. That’s a huge problem because there’s nothing worse for your heart than cheese, which is packed with artery-injuring saturated fat. “If you want to die early,” Nathan Pritikin used to say, “eat a lot of cheese.”
Get in the habit of telling servers, “No cheese, please.” For lunch, go to places like Subway, Souplantation, or Chipotle, where you can point and choose precisely what you want (and don’t want) in your sandwich, salad, and burrito. The difference is mind-boggling. Adding just one ounce of American cheese to a sandwich adds six grams of saturated fat (the same amount of saturated fat that’s in a McDonald’s cheeseburger).
8. Don’t drink your calories
We’ve become a nation of “beverage bloat,” reported Nutrition Action Healthletter in its Jan/Feb 07 issue. And it’s bloating our waistlines because, states Nutrition Action’s Bonnie Liebman, “the calories you drink are more likely to show up on your bathroom scale than the calories you chew.”
The real belt busters are sugar-rich, fat-rich “premium” drinks like Starbuck’s Venti Java Chip Frappuccino (650 calories).
And every calorie does count. An extra 650 calories per day can easily translate into about 65 added pounds per year.
9. Eat less meat (or none at all). Feast on fish instead
People who eat more red meat – beef, pork, and lamb – have a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colon cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer. They’re also more likely to go senile. Enough said?
Go vegetarian or switch to seafood. Seafood has a lot less saturated fat than meat. And its omega-3 fatty acids can cut your risk of a heart attack. Eating seafood at least twice weekly has been found to lower triglycerides, prevent excessive blood clotting, curb inflammation (which means that plaque in the arteries is less likely to rupture), as well as lower the risk of sudden death.
Good omega-3 rich choices that are also low in contaminants such as mercury include: salmon, both fresh and canned (without salt); herring; mackerel (not King); mussels; oysters; sardines (water-packed, without salt); whitefish; and trout (farmed).
10. Finish with fruit
What good is a healthy dinner of salad, minestrone soup, grilled salmon, and baked potato if you finish it off with a 1000-calorie slice of New York cheesecake? Sure, we all know desserts are an indulgence, but many of us don’t realize just how over-the-top many restaurant desserts are. A fudge brownie sundae can easily tally up 1,100 calories. The Cheesecake Factory’s Outrageous Chocolate Cake is 1,380 calories! Outrageous, allright.
Look for fruit on the dessert menu – raspberries, strawberries – or sorbets (a serving of sorbet usually clocks in at 120 calories or less). What a difference!
And what a difference following all 10 steps can make to your health, your happiness, and your longevity!