When ordering food at a restaurant, do you know which items may be loaded with fat and calories? Unlike when you’re grocery shopping, the foods in a restaurant may not have nutrition labels listing their fat grams and calorie content.
Hidden calories refer to the extra calories in many dishes that come from ingredients you may be unaware of. That’s why they’re such a problem for people grappling with weight control. Ingredients are often added to enhance the flavor, color or texture of food — for example, seasonings, sauces, cheesy toppings or dressings. And sometimes they’re part of the process used to prepare the dish — for example, oil or butter for cooking. These calories add up fast.
Use these tips to steer clear of hidden fat and calories in restaurant food.
Appetizers. If you’re having an appetizer, choose one that contains primarily vegetables, fruit or fish. Lettuce cups, edamame, fresh-fruit compote and shrimp cocktail served with lemon are healthy appetizers. Avoid fried or breaded appetizers, which are generally high in calories. Of course, you can also save calories by skipping the appetizer altogether and just focusing on your entree.
Soup. The best choices are broth-based or tomato-based soups. Creamed soups, chowders and pureed soups can contain heavy cream or egg yolks.
Bread. Muffins, garlic toast and croissants have more fat and calories than do whole-grain bread, breadsticks and crackers. Skip the temptation by asking the server not to bring the bread basket.
Salad. Your best choice is a lettuce or spinach salad with a low-fat dressing on the side. Limit all of the high-calorie add-ons, such as cheese and croutons. Also beware that chef salad and taco salad are usually high in fat and calories because of the meat, cheese and other extras — such as the taco salad’s deep-fried shell.
Side dish. Choose steamed vegetables, rice, fresh fruits, a baked potato or boiled new potatoes instead of higher-calorie options, such as french fries, potato chips and mayonnaise-based salads.
Entrees. You maywant to skip pasta dishes with meat or cheese or dishes with creamy sauces. The names of certain dishes are sometimes giveaways that they’re high in fat, such as prime rib, veal parmigiana, stuffed shrimp, fried chicken, fried rice and fettuccine Alfredo. Instead, look for these healthy terms when choosing an entree: baked, broiled without added butter, grilled, poached, roasted or steamed.
Dessert. Finish your main meal before ordering dessert. By the time you’re done, you may not even want dessert. If you do order dessert, consider splitting it with one of your companions. Some healthy dessert options include fresh fruit, sorbet or sherbet.
Also, be mindful of two common dining-out challenges: the urge to order more food than you need and the impulse to eat every bit of food on your plate — even when the portion size is way too large for one person!
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day for a reason: People who regularly eat a healthy, balanced breakfast tend to concentrate better and get more physical activity than those who skip it. Breakfast eaters also have an easier time managing their weight and have good cholesterol levels.
Take a bite out of the habit of skipping breakfast with these strategies:
Get into the habit. Start with grabbing just a piece of fruit as you walk out the door. Gradually include other food groups.
Curb your sweet tooth the healthy way. Try making French toast using whole-grain bread dipped in a batter made of egg whites or an egg substitute, a pinch of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract. Fry in a nonstick skillet or use a cooking spray. Top with thinly sliced apples, unsweetened applesauce, berries or sliced banana for sweetness.
Prepare in advance. If you’re rushed in the morning, set the table the night before with bowls and spoons for cereal or slice some fruit ahead of time and place your smoothie blender out on the counter. Keep easy favorites such as hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, instant whole-grain oatmeal and low-fat yogurt on hand.
Think out of the (cereal) box. Don’t limit yourself to traditional breakfast foods. Leftover vegetable pizza or a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread can make a healthy breakfast.
Take it with you. If there’s no time to eat breakfast at home, pack a brown-bag breakfast or grab a banana and take it with you.
Split it up. If you’re not hungry first thing in the morning, eat a slice of whole-wheat toast or drink a glass of 100 percent fruit juice. Later, eat a healthy mid-morning snack.
Change gradually. Have breakfast on two mornings at first, and three mornings a little later. Your eventual goal is to eat breakfast every day.
Whenever you’re tempted to skip your morning meal, just remember that a good breakfast also helps keep you from becoming ravenously hungry later in the day, so you won’t eat as much.
You might be thinking that it’s hard to carve out time in your schedule for exercise, let alone stretching. But most cardio and strength-training programs cause your muscles to tighten. That’s why it’s important to stretch regularly to keep your body functioning well.
Increases flexibility, which makes daily tasks easier
Improves range of motion of your joints, which helps keep you mobile
Promotes better posture
Helps relieve stress by relaxing tense muscles
Helps prevent injury, especially if your muscles or joints are tight
Keep these key points in mind:
Target major muscle groups. When you’re stretching, focus on your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Also stretch muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play.
Warm up first. Stretching muscles when they’re cold increases your risk of injury, including pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently pumping your arms, or do a favorite exercise at low intensity for five minutes. If you only have time to stretch once, do it after you exercise — when your muscles are warm and more receptive to stretching. And when you do stretch, start slowly.
Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds — and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. Then repeat the stretch on the other side. For most muscle groups, a single stretch is usually sufficient.
Don’t bounce. Bouncing as you stretch repeatedly gets your muscles out of the stretch position and doesn’t allow them to relax, making you less flexible and more prone to pain.
Focus on a pain-free stretch. Expect to feel tension while you’re stretching. If it hurts, you’ve gone too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
Relax and breathe freely.
Don’t hold your breath while you’re stretching.
Fit stretching into your schedule
As a general rule, stretch whenever you exercise. If you don’t exercise regularly, you may want to stretch at least three times a week to maintain flexibility. If you have a problem area, such as tightness in the back of your leg, you may want to stretch every day or even twice a day.
Think about ways you can fit stretching into your daily schedule. For example:
Do some stretches after your morning shower or bath. That way, you can shorten your warm-up routine because the warm water will raise muscle temperature and prepare your muscles for stretching.
Stretch before getting out of bed. Try a few gentle head-to-toe stretches by reaching your arms above your head and pointing your toes.
Sign up for a yoga or tai chi class. You’re more likely to stick with a program if you’re registered for a class.
What you should know before you stretch
You can stretch anytime, anywhere — in your home, at work or when you’re traveling. But if you have a chronic condition or an injury, you may need to alter your approach. For example, if you have a strained muscle, stretching it as you usually do may cause further harm. Talk with your doctor or a physical therapist about the best way for you to stretch.
Do your intentions to eat well seem to fly out the window when you have a packed schedule? Stay grounded with these simple tips, no matter how long your to-do list is:
Make an effort to eat as a family at least once a day. A pleasant meal that isn’t rushed promotes family bonding and improves the likelihood of eating a well-balanced meal. Be flexible with timing: You may need to eat dinner early or make a plan to always sit down together just for breakfast to accommodate everyone’s hectic schedule.
Cook ahead. When you have time to cook, make a double batch and freeze leftovers for quick meals on busy days. For instance, simmer enough pasta for two days. Serve it hot one night with sauce, then chilled in a salad with tuna and low-fat salad dressing the next.
Stock your pantry with foods for simple meals. Good examples are whole-wheat pasta, fresh and frozen vegetables, fresh and canned fruits, 100 percent whole-wheat bread, lean deli meats, salsa, canned dried beans, and low-fat or fat-free yogurt and cheese.
Go for health and convenience. Some convenience foods are designed to be healthy and lower in calories. A healthy frozen entree or side dish is an option on busy days. Read labels for calories, fat and sodium. Stock healthy versions of quick foods like instant brown rice.
Look for shortcuts. Simplify your meal prep and save time by buying pre-cut fruits and vegetables, precooked meats, shredded low-fat cheeses, packaged salads, and frozen or canned vegetables. There’s nothing quicker than fresh fruit, but fruit canned in its own juice (not sugary syrup) is also OK. Rinse canned vegetables with water to remove excess sodium.
Keep a list of simple menu ideas. Recipes that include common staples and take 20 minutes or less come in handy on days when you’re rushed.
It always helps if you plan meals ahead, but if your house is stocked with healthy choices you can wing it and still eat well. Remember that healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated or involve hard-to-find ingredients.
Has the same number on the scale been popping up week after week? That’s common. Being stuck at a weight-loss plateau eventually happens to most people trying to lose weight, despite continuing with the same exercise routine and healthy-eating habits.
Try these solutions:
Reassess your habits. Look back at your food and activity records. Make sure you haven’t loosened the rules, letting yourself get by with larger portions or less exercise.
Cut more calories. Reduce your daily calorie intake by 200 calories — provided this doesn’t put you below 1,200 calories. Fewer than 1,200 calories a day may not be enough to keep you from feeling hungry all the time, which increases your risk of overeating. In addition, this reduced calorie intake should be sustainable. If not, you’ll regain the weight you’ve lost and more.
Rev up your workout. Increase the amount of time you exercise by an additional 15 to 30 minutes. You might also try increasing the intensity of your exercise if you feel that’s possible. Additional exercise will cause you to burn more calories. Consider adding resistance or muscle-building exercises. Increasing your muscle mass will help you burn more calories.
Pack more activity into your day. Think outside the gym. Increase your general physical activity throughout the day by walking more and using your car less, or try doing more yard work or vigorous spring cleaning.
Focus on your weight-loss victories, and recognize that plateaus are just part of the journey. Continue your healthy eating and exercise habits, knowing that will help you sustain the success you’ve had.
Meat doesn’t have to be the only source of protein in your diet. In fact, studies show that eating red meat and processed meat can increase your risk of developing heart disease and cancer.
Since meatless meals are built around vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and grains, they offer many nutrients, including protein. Eggs and low-fat dairy foods also are good protein sources. Eating a variety of these foods throughout the day can give you all the essential amino acids — the building blocks of protein — that your body needs. In addition, protein from meatless sources can be just as filling. Another bonus: Buying less meat can also help you spend less on food, as meat usually costs more than its healthy alternatives.
Meatless recipes can offer a world of enjoyable possibilities, including some fun ethnic meals. Start exploring your meatless options — and your cooking creativity — with these ideas:
Substitute part or all of the meat with extra vegetables when making lasagna, pasta and stews.
Order mushroom and cheese or veggie pizza.
Stir-fry vegetables with tofu instead of meat.
Make vegetable kebabs.
Choose bean burritos or tacos.
Make chili or spaghetti sauce with soy-based vegetable crumbles instead of ground meat.
Grill portobello mushrooms in place of hamburgers.
Instead of building your meals by focusing on meat, think about the colorful and satisfying meals you can create by starting with vegetables and whole grains.
All of us approach the process of personal change a little differently. But anyone can take a cue from these key principles as you work to adopt new habits.
Build confidence. Focus on strategies that play to your strengths and your skills. Consider how you have succeeded in the past, and build your plan from there. Past experiences — good or bad — are learning opportunities and should be seen as a useful tool in tackling new goals with optimism.
Create a routine. An eating or activity schedule can create a better sense of control. Make sure your schedule is one that truly works for your life and not one you can follow only for the short term. That’s why it’s important to set realistic goals — the more successful you are, the easier it will be to stay motivated.
Focus on what you’re adding to your life. Try not to fixate on what you’re giving up, whether it’s certain foods, habits or a little extra TV time. Focus on things like the delicious, healthy meals you are eating and how energized you feel after a workout. Celebrate success as you notice even the smallest positive changes in how you look and feel; it will give you the momentum you need to keep going.
Make your program your own. Take a day off from exercise, or enjoy one of your favorite foods once in a while. The more you make your program work for you, the less likely you are to rebel against it. Figure out what it takes — within reason — to make your healthy lifestyle pleasurable and sustainable.
By following these principles, you can enjoy a lifetime of healthier living — and a healthy weight!
How strong you can grip may be a better predictor of future health and longevity according to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal. After accounting for age and a wide variety of other factors, such as diet, amount of time being sedentary, and socioeconomic status, researchers found that muscle weakness—defined by a grip-strength measurement of less than 26 kilograms (57 pounds) for men and less than 16 kilograms (35 pounds) for women—was associated with a higher risk of premature death and a higher risk of heart and lung disease, and cancer.
Researchers in Norway found that those who have excellent grip strength in their 80s and 90s are more likely to live in good health into their 100s. The role of skeletal muscle is often under-appreciated. It not only controls our body movement; skeletal muscle also stores protein and plays a major role in glucose and lipid metabolism.
Published July 30, 2018 by Dr. Daniel Thomas, DO, MS
Chances are you eat lots of grains already. But are they the healthiest kind? If you’re like most people, you’re not getting enough whole grains in your diet. Aim to choose whole grains for at least half of all the grains you eat. Read on to learn about the different types and why you should skip refined and enriched grains.
Types of grains
Also called cereals, grains and whole grains are the seeds of grasses cultivated for food. They come in many shapes and sizes, from large kernels of popcorn to small quinoa seeds.
Whole grains. These unrefined grains haven’t had their bran and germ removed by milling; therefore, all of the nutrients remain intact. Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. Whole grains are either single foods, such as brown rice and popcorn, or ingredients in products, such as buckwheat in pancakes or whole wheat in bread.
Refined grains. In contrast to whole grains, refined grains are milled, a process that strips out both the bran and germ to give them a finer texture and longer shelf life. The refining process also removes many nutrients, including fiber. Refined grains include white flour, white rice, white bread and degermed cornflower. Many breads, cereals, crackers, desserts and pastries are made with refined grains, too. These processed foods will not keep your blood sugar levels steady, which is why you will be hungry again soon after consumption.
Enriched grains. Enriched means that some or many of the nutrients that are lost during processing are added back in later.
Most refined grains are enriched, and many enriched grains are also fortified — meaning nutrients that don’t occur naturally in the food are added — with other vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and iron. Enriched grains lack fiber and are not an optimal choice because while they have traces of nutrition, many important vitamins and nutrients are lost during processing.
Choosing whole grains
Eat whole grains rather than refined grains as often as possible. Examples of whole grains include:
Bulgur (cracked wheat)
Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers
It’s not always easy to tell which grains are in a particular product, especially bread. For instance, a brown bread isn’t necessarily whole wheat — the color may come from added coloring. If you’re not sure something has whole grains, check the product label or the Nutrition Facts panel. Look for the word “whole” on the package, and make sure whole grains appear among the first items in the ingredient list.
How to enjoy more whole grains in your diet
Try these tips to add more whole grains to your meals and snacks:
Enjoy breakfasts that include whole-grain cereals, such as bran flakes, shredded wheat or oatmeal.
Substitute whole-wheat toast or whole-grain bagels for plain. Substitute low-fat bran muffins for pastries.
Make sandwiches using whole-grain breads or rolls. Swap out white-flour tortillas with whole-wheat versions.
Replace white rice with kasha, brown rice, wild rice or bulgur.
Feature wild rice or barley in soups, stews, casseroles and salads.
Add whole grains, such as cooked brown rice or whole-grain bread crumbs, to ground meat or poultry for extra body.
Use rolled oats or crushed bran cereal in recipes instead of dry bread crumbs.
Eating a variety of whole grains not only ensures that you get more health-promoting nutrients but also helps make your meals and snacks more interesting.
Schedule A Wellness Consultation
If you would like to meet with one of our wellness professionals, please call 386.271.3256 or fill out the form below and we will reach out to you at your convenience.