Small Changes, Big Results

“The Healthy Gourmet”

02 March, 2011

Small Changes – It’s the beginning of March and for many of us those New Year’s resolutions may be falling by the wayside – or they may be flat out dead by the wayside!  Sound familiar? The lofty expectations we had for significant dietary changes (and results), made when we were full of forbidden holiday treats may now be rather grounded so here are a few tips to “shake things up” in your eating world:

  1. At home, try eating off smaller plates.  Salad plates will hold an appropriately sized salad or sandwich for lunch; at dinner, use a salad plate to eat your salad and when you have finished use another salad plate for your main course and a vegetable.   This is a visual way to guesstimate portion size, and one that works!  Reducing portion size is one of the best ways to alter your diet without having to sacrifice the foods you love – so start serving yourself less, and in restaurants ask for a “to go” box when your meal arrives so you can save enough for tomorrow’s lunch before you start eating.
  2. Undress:  well, undress your salads.  Instead of using creamy or prepared salad dressings, use a bit of canola or olive oil and a squirt of fresh or bottled lemon juice on salads.   The oil and lemon is particularly good on baby arugula greens, and for an alternative try some flavored vinegars instead of the lemon juice.  Red wine vinegar, tarragon vinegar, seasoned rice wine vinegar, or fruit flavored are all good choices.  For a single salad serving use about ¼ teaspoon oil and 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar; add more as needed.  Don’t forget to use this trick when dining out, too – most restaurants keep oil and vinegar curettes on hand and/or can offer you lemon slices.
  3. Drink water – you know that, and are probably tired of hearing it.  I set a goal to drink a certain amount of water beyond what I normally drink.  For example, I always drink water when I exercise and when I eat meals, so my goal is to get in 4 8 ounce glasses of water a day beyond what I usually drink.  Set your own goal, and then be sure to hold yourself accountable every day to that goal.
  4.  When your office mates or spouse are choosing a restaurant, lobby for the one that has a good selection of fresh, green salads on the menu.   Hopefully you will see an entrée salad that will be of interest to you and if you do the oil and lemon/vinegar dressing you should net a healthier meal choice (just don’t order the fried chicken finger salad…..).  Even if you don’t order a salad, dining in places that offer better salad choices usually means you have healthier options to choose from.
  5. Help yourself control snacking by pre-measuring snacks.  When the munchies hit in the afternoon or while watching TV, you are vulnerable to overeating because you are hungry right then and can’t wait to eat.  If you pre-package snacks when your tummy is full you will have a more reasonable portion, plus you can then grab-and-go for your snack.  Use sandwich or snack sized plastic baggies, using the size of your fist as a guideline for how much to portion out.  Even if you choose a not-so-healthy snack, having a smaller portion to eat rather than eating from the bag or a larger vending machine portion is a smarter choice.
  6. Eliminate the mayo in salads and on sandwiches.  You can replace the mayo in salads by mixing a small amount of sugar and milk until the sugar is dissolved, then adding fat free sour cream and fresh herbs to the desired consistency.  On sandwiches, try thin slices of avocado, or try some of the many kinds of mustards now available – I like the stone ground mustards or spicy mustards.
  7. Skip the wine, but not the wine glass!  A colorful diet juice drink, sparkling water, or herbal iced tea with mint in a wine glass or champagne flute gives you the feeling of festivity without all the calories.  Use your best or favorite glasses for a healthy treat with a festive flair.