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It’s never too late to start making the best food and drink choices as often as possible. Below are 5 calorie slashing tips to incorporate into your every day life.

1. Lighten your lunch order -- especially when dining out. Eat half of your entree and bring the other half home. Many of my clients request that their server pre-bag half of their meal before bringing it out. Many restaurants also offer a combo of either a cup of soup with half a sandwich or a cup of soup and a small salad or half a sandwich and a small salad. I approve. When speaking specifically on sandwiches, rather than going for a sub roll or bagel, opt for whole grain bread, a wrap or pita. Choose mustard over mayo; omit the cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing and go for avocado -- the good fat. Rather than a side of creamy soup, or a pile of fries or chips, choose grilled veggies or a side green salad. Fill your sandwich with lean protein and skip the processed bologna, salami, pastrami, and full fat cheeses. This can save you between 600-800 calories, which is the equivalent of an extra meal and possibly a snack.

2. Compromise. Make room for splurges. If you want to have a roll from the bread basket go for it, but at your main meal, focus on lean protein and veggies. Request additional green veggies to be subbed in for starches like potatoes. If you crave dessert, split it.

3. Go vegetarian! Incorporate a plant-based dinner for your beef burger once a week. If you do this for a full year, you can save 10,000 calories, which is the equivalent of a 3-pound weight loss! Great plant-based meal substitutions include a portabella mushroom burger, tofu, beans or lentils. Another option might be breakfast for dinner, such as a scrambled egg wrap stuffed with veggies and salsa on the side.

4. Watch your drink order. An a registered dietitian (RD), I am water’s number one fan and always recommend carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day. My personal favorite is Smartwater, enhanced with key electrolytes, which give it that crisp, refreshing taste. (If you don’t believe me, try it!) Other beverage choices include iced tea sweetened naturally with stevia or Truvia, low-fat milk (preferably organic), or light beer. When drinking alcohol, moderate your amount, which is up to one alcoholic beverage a day for women and up to two for men.

5. Downsize your plate and spoon! As the size of our dinner plates expand, so does the average waistline in America. Go for the teaspoon-size spoon rather than the tablespoon when dipping into honey, salad dressings or perhaps your favorite dish of ice cream. Less is more here.

Chrissy Barth, RD, BHT, RYT, is a nutritionist at the DC Ranch Village Health Club and Spa and is available for nutrition consults. Give her a call if you are interested in revamping your diet, crave more energy, or just want that peace of mind knowing you are on the right track for optimal health -- especially during the holiday season.

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[photo credit: health.com, pinterest.com, delish.com]

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