Super Cereal is one of my favorite go-to's in the morning and when I need to refuel later in the day or evening. This is a perfect example of "inclusion" verses "exclusion" when it comes to healthy eating. Include healthful nuts, seeds, dried or fresh fruit, nuts and even dark chocolate to modest portions of low-glycemic, whole-grain cereal such as: oats, bran flakes, shredded wheat or Cheerios.
Adding these foods can indeed increase calories, so you don't want to go overboard with the portions (unless you're looking to add calories). The benefit of adding these items is that they add nutrients, protein and healthy fat which nourish our bodies and help keep us fuller for longer- hopefully resulting in less overall calorie intake throughout the day if you're trying to lose weight.
Healthy Burgers, Turkey Burgers, Veggie Burgers or Portabella Burgers- on Whole Wheat, Sandwich Thins or go No-Bun or Half-Bun (Replace with/use lettuce)
If you don't have a grill or are not experienced using a grill, no worries- make your patties thin and use a saute pan, Foreman Grill or a grill pan. Just make sure your burgers reach a safe internal temperature of 165+ degrees. Flip burgers less often and they will cook faster. Dice onions and garlic into your patties for more flavor, nutrition and fiber!
Meat (Chicken, Shrimp, Steak) and/or Veggie Skewers
Chicken salad with walnuts or almonds, celery, purple onions and grapes with plain Greek yogurt and little honey and cinnamon.
Delicious Client Favorite.
I use my pressure/power cooker to cook up chicken breasts in 15 minutes. You can also boil the chicken.
I cool the chicken so I can easily dice the chicken into cubes.
I then dice or use the food processor to cut up seedless grapes.
I dice up celery and purple onion.
Add wallnuts and all ingredients to a mixing bowl and use my gloved hand to mix in
Plain Greek Yogurt instead of, or in addition to a small amount of olive oil mayo.
and Honey to taste (You dont need a lot asthe grapes really add a punch of sweetness!
Turkey or Beef Soft or Hard Tacos, or Lettuce Wraps
Frozen Breaded Baked Calamari, Edamame and Green Beans
You can purchase frozen calamari breaded or not and place into the oven until done. The breaded calamari below cooked up nice and crispy. I served with microwaved frozen veggies- green beans and edamame. You can add a little water to the veggies to steam and keep from drying out. And you know you have to have some lemon, salt , pepper and a good marinara!
Shrimp, Sausage, Brussel Sprout Mix
Grilled Ahi Tuna or Chicken with small amount BAKED potato fries and salad with little Ketchup and Greek Yogurt-Herb Dip
Ahi Tuna is an awesome eat. Texture closer to chicken if cooked medium to well. If sushi-grade the raw flesh is delicious-it is often seared and left with a pink center. Cooks up quickly.
Plain Greek Yogurt seconds as an amazing condiment or sour cream substitute. Infuse its tangy canvas with herbs and spices like dill, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, etc.. In a time crunch I have even used a ranch or onion soup seasoning packet.
Oven-baked, healthy potato fries. Spray thinly sliced potatoes (red potatoes raise blood sugar a little slower than russet potatoes) with a healthy vegetable oil, season and toss in the oven on about 450 degrees for about 45minutes (varries by thickness and size of potatoes) turning midway.
Ground Chicken, onion, bellpepper and herb (coriander, sage, oregano, parsley, Italian, and/or other) Meatballs. Serve with low sugar pasta sauce, Parmesan cheese (or mix in Parmesan cheese) OR mushrooms, onions and peppers
Meatballs are awesome! They are a cinch to make and clean up after with time-saving secrets like: invest in some disposable gloves, they are great for handling raw meats in the kitchen whether you are transferring , rubbing them with seasoning or forming meatballs. Also, cover your baking pan with parchment paper for a non-stick, quick-and-easy clean up!
Include lots diced veggies, seasonings like garlic and onion, herbs and spices to your meatballs. Parmesan cheese adds some calories, but a little goes great in meatballs!
Roughly 375 degrees for 20 minutes (longer time, lower temps=moist-ER meatballs.) Always temp.
Pork Chops and Veggies and Lentils
Pork is often underestimated and underutilized. Thea lean cuts are nutritious and both pack and retain flavor extremely well. One combination I like to use is soy sauce, lime and some source of spicy (like red pepper flakes). They cook up fast needing only a few minutes on a sautee or grill pan. They also do well in the oven. As always, temp to make sure they reach a safe and desirable internal temperature.
Below the chop is paired with green beans, almonds and carrots; corn and lentils!
Loaded Jambalaya with Shrimp, Chicken and Andouille Sausage
I made this version of Jambalaya with brown rice, quinoa and barley. You can use one, the other or a combination. Make sure the ratio of grain to protein and veggies is low (more veggies and meat than grain to control carbohydrate content).
I used a pressure cooker (power cooker) to cook the grains , then I throw in cooked (sauteed) shrimp, sauteed sausage and roasted chicken-I use rotisserie for a HUGE time saver in this and many recipes!
This is what usually goes into the pressure cooker. Portions are for 6 servings. You may also cook like a soup or look for a slow-cooker recipe.
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
2 3/4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup chopped smoked Andouile sausage (about 4 ounces)
1/4 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped
1/2 pound shredded chicken
Fish, BBQ Ribs or Breaded and Baked "fried" crispy Chicken Cutlets. Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. Pureed Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes and Lots of Veggies. Just keep grains to 1/2 cup portions or smaller.
Bake, Sautee, Broil, Grill- Expirament and learn each healthy cooking method. These aforementioned methods reduce the fat (and resulting calories) used and carried over to your plate, into your mouth then inside your body.
Frozen Veggies of all kinds, like those pictured throughout, are great time savers and are high in nutrition. I recommend eating a variety of fresh, frozen, cooked, raw, dried and even canned (on occasion. rinse to lower sodium) vegetable products. Different micro-nutrients are more or less bioavailable depending on how the food is processed, cooked, stored, prepared, etc. Cooked and canned tomatoes for example posses high amounts of lycopene, while cooking easily destroys vitamin C. Mix up how you eat and you'll be sure to get your nutrients. This is just ONE main reason why variety, not only in selection, but also in cooking is always important!
Egg Plant, Tomato and Onion Veggie-Lasagna with NoSugar Added Pasta Sauce, Mozzarella and Basil
Layer your favorite veggies such as eggplant, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, etc. with ricotta cheese, mozzarella and a healthy, no sugar added tomato sauce. Add fresh or dried basil, parsley and more of your favorite herbs and spices. Bake at about 425 for ~30 minutes.
Mushrooms, Spinach and Eggs - Add Avocado, Tomato, Onion, Cheese etc. You can make combination into breakfast burrito on Whole Wheat Tortilla or a Breakfast Sandwich on a whole wheat English muffin. Just Avoid large slices of bread and especially crab-dense bagels. If thats all you have, Use one piece of bread or a half bagel.
(Canned) Bean, Corn, Bell Pepper, Onion, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper salad/salsa
Loaded Veggie Wrap on Small Spinach or Whole Wheat Tortilla - Use onion, olives, spinach, bell pepper, cheese (creamed, feta or other), etc. and Italian or other low carb dressing.
Name a veggie, you can pair it with other veggies and make a delicious, filling and nutritious wrap.
An appropriate-sized whole-wheat, spinach or other lower-carbohydrate, high-nutrition wrap keeps carbohydrates at an appropriate level. Plus, all the fiber and nutrition will insure slower, steady digestion and absorption.
Healthy wrap-condiments include,but are not limited to:
Greek Yogurt Ranch
Greek Yogurt Herb Creamed Cheese
Oil and Vinegar
Greek Yogurt Taziki
Feta or another cheese can also go great on the wrap!
Possibilities for veggies include, but are not limited to:
Carne Asada with Roasted or Grilled Jalepeno, Anaheim or Grilled Green Chile, Tomatoes, Salsa and small portion of chips (I love beanditos) or whole wheat tortilla.
Mixed Veggie Lettuce Wraps with brown rice or quinoa. You can Use Ground Chicken, Tofu, or go pure Veggie. Cabbage, Onion, Nuts, Broccoli, Carrots, Celery, Mushrooms are all used here. Season with soy sauce or modest amount of Teriyaki after cooked and portioned.
Turkey Chili with Lean Ground Beef or Turkey
High Protein Salad with chicken, shrimp or boiled egg
Salads DO NOT have to be boring or bland. You can make a salad sweet, savory, protein-packed, filling, flavorful and just about anything else you want!
Potential healthy dressings:
Greek Yogurt Herb
Apple Cider-Honey or Balsamic-Honey Vinaigrette
Olive (or other healthy, flavorful) oil, like sesame and/or vinegar dressing
1000island (as long as portion and/or content insures modest sugar content)
Honey-mustard (same as with 1000island above)
Salad additions to play with:
Raw Nuts or Seeds (you should be eating and using a variety of nuts in your diet if well-tolerated, salads are no exception :) E.g. Pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds
Beans - variety here as well. E.g. kidney, black beans, garbanzo beans, edemame
Any veggie you can think of
Meat, Fish (Love smoked salmon) Boiled Egg, Tofu
Top 27 Realistic Things You Can Do This Year to Meet Your Weight Loss Goals
The 3 pillars of weight management (and many other health and fitness goals) is nutrition, exercise and the underemphasized, yet absolutely essential domain of behavior change. Knowledge is a piece of the puzzle, certainly, but finding ways to implement what you know into your daily life, day after day, is how people sustain healthy behaviors that eventually result in energy, activity and healthy eating. If any or all of these are sustained over time, weight loss and is sure to follow.
So what factors play into behavior change?
Motivation is one key player. Uncovering one's motivation leads to discovering WHY they want to... X,Y or Z.
It is more effective to realize WHY you want to carry out a behavior, rather than being told to do something by someone else.
Confidence (or self efficacy) is a major predictor of successful behavior change. So starting small with achievable goals that encompass one's strengths is recommended. It is often helpful to look back on prior successes and reflect on what has worked, and what hasn't in the past. Identifying strengths, weaknesses and obstacles is critical to forming successful strategies that will eventually lead to the behaviors and outcomes you want.
Health beliefs (knowledge) do come into play. Understanding the logic or science behind a health recommendation can increase the chances one will follow through on a given behavior. Believing eating a certain way will eventually lead to weight loss, makes it more likely one will eat that way. Once you reap the benefits of skipping happy-hour drinks a few times, you're more likely to make it a habit.
Goal Setting is an important part of a change plan. Setting realistic appropriate goals is vital. Remember, you can always modify goals, but it is best to start with an easy goal and build confidence to tackle more challenging goals.
Try to set SMART goals
Try to set "Be" goals vs. "Do" goals
("Do" goals are okay, especially at the beginning)
Avoid abstinence goals (I won't have any more chocolate)
Instead, set positive goals (I will eat 3 servings of vegetables a day)
Substituting, especially at first, is a great strategy (I will drink 1% milk or almond milk in place of whole milk)
Values are also important to address.
A goal is more likely to be met if it satisfies more than one value. (cooking at home vs. eating out may satisfy health and financial values simultaneously)
A behavior is more likely to be met depending on how quickly or certain it is to satisfy a goal/value.
Hierarchy or prioritization of goals and values matter, with higher priorities (goals/values) being placed before others. It is essential to have a plan to deal with competing desires/behaviors.
Urgency or perceived urgency is another factor that affects how likely a goal is to be met. Diagnosis of a disease or seeing a particular number on the scale may increase the urgency to adopt different behaviors.
It is very likely you will feel ambivalent toward some of your goals. Ambivalence is the feeling of conflict between two desires. For example, you want to eat healthfully to lose weight, but you also want to have a beer during happy hour with your coworkers. Or, you want to go to the gym, but you also would enjoy staying home to watch your favorite TV show.
Can you find behaviors or compromises that allow you to satisfy both of your desires? Like watching your favorite show on the treadmill at the health club? When this isn't possible, try to find an action that deliveres similar satisfaction or at least destructs you from the action that will not help you achieve your overall goal.
Creating strategies, plans and compromises are necessary to follow through on healthy behaviors. This is also why motivation, support, accountability and skill power (not will power) are all so important.
Addiction also often a very big part, especially with food, alcohol, caffeine, sugar and smoking.
Environment drives a lot of what we do. This goes back to making the healthy choice the easy choice. I cannot stress this part enough.
If you want to avoid drive-thu's, carry healthy snacks with you in the car. If you want to go to the gym in the morning, pack your gym bag the night before and put in in your car.
Behaviors can also relate to triggers and cues.
Try to create healthy, positive triggers and cues, and eliminate negative, detrimental ones. You can set alarms as reminders to eat, pack your gym bag or make your lunch. Set an appointment with your gym buddy or carve out an hour on your schedule to meal prep.
Have healthy foods stocked and easily visible while keeping treats stashed away. Small bowls and cups can also cue you to know when it's time to stop eating.
None of these concepts are magical. They take a lot of time, thought, sacrifice, practice and fine-tuning. But nothing good ever comes easy, does it :)? The payoff will come, and it is well worth the sacrifice!
Mike Aguilar RD, CPT
Personal Fitness and Weight Management Consultant
Start Fresh Fitness
Personal Life Coach