Friday, February 10, 2012

Eating Out Hints. A to Z Weight-Loss Tips for Long-Term Success - Tip E

Eating Out: Easy Tips to Keep You on Track

It's your friend's birthday and you decide to take her out for a fun dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. You both start off with a glass of wine and share an appetizer of Thai Lettuce Wraps.You enjoy the Grilled Portabella Mushroom on a Bun with fries. You treat her to a House Salad with Ranch and the Thai Chicken Pasta. You are both full after eating all of that, but you both decide that you can't go to the Cheesecake Factory without getting some cheesecake, so you decide to split a slice of Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake. 

So, what's the damage?
You just consumed about 2800 calories, and your friend a whopping 3000 calories!

This is much more than most average adults 
need in an entire day!

Eating out can be tough on your weight loss plan, because it is more difficult to control portion sizes and food preparation methods. Plus, people generally enjoy a drink and/or dessert when eating out at a restaurant. However, eating a meal outside the home or office is an important, and many times, fun event for many people. It happens for many reasons: celebrations, business lunches, parties, no plans to cook at home, didn't have time to grocery shop, etc. Eating out is inevitable for many folks, so try these helpful survival tips next time you dine away from home.

Eating out survival tips:
  • Walk (or bike) for that meal, but don’t forget comfortable shoes!
    • Dine somewhere that is a 10 to 15 minute walk from your home or office. You'll enjoy your meal plus get 30 minutes of physical activity, AND no parking to worry about. The walk home will also help digestion and burn a few calories! 
  • Cut the calories you consume by controlling the portion size of your meal. (Your wallet will thank you too!) 
    • Instead of a large entrée, order an appetizer and a leafy green salad. 
    • Order a kids meal or the junior sized portions. Many offer low-fat milk and fruits and veggies instead of fries.  
    • Enjoy your meal TWICE!: Ask for a doggie bag as soon as your meal arrives. Place half in the box to take home and only eat the half that is remaining. This saves calories, time, and money. Lunch for tomorrow is ready to go!  
    • Split one dessert with the whole table. Sometimes just a bite or two is all you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.
    • Share the main entrée with a pal. It saves both of you calories and money! 
  • On the side! Control calories consumed by asking for sauces, condiments, gravies, and dressings "on the side".  This puts you in control of how much is put on your meal. 
    • Dressing on the side of your salad
    • Ketchup, BBQ sauce, and mayo on the side of your burger
    • Gravy on the side of your mashed potatoes or steak
    • Cream and cheese sauces on the side of your pasta
  • Use the Nutrition Info available
    • Many restaurants have calorie information on the menus, menu boards, or available upon request.
    • Research calorie information online before you arrive at the restaurant. Many chain restaurants have this information available online.
    • Order items off the "lite", "enlightened", "heart healthy", or other similarly named portion of the menu.

Yes, I have tried all of these myself, and they can help reduce calories consumed. I feel much better leaving the restaurant comfortably content rather than bloated and uncomfortably full. Plus, we save some money too!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dangerous Diet Don'ts! A to Z Weight-Loss Tips for Long-Term Success - Tip D

Dangerous Diet Don'ts

Healthy weight loss = Excess fat loss  
Weight loss means more than a change in the number on the scale. The number on the scale will also fall when you lose muscle and water (dehydration), but these are NOT what you want to lose. Dehydration causes many negative side effects including constipation, fatigue, headaches, poor exercise performance, electrolyte imbalances, and in severe cases, death! Muscle loss can lead to slower metabolism, weakness, and poor exercise performance. 

Water loss from dehydration diet techniques and muscle loss from starvation diets are NOT HEALTHY, can be DANGEROUS, and are INEFFECTIVE for long-term weight (fat) loss success. 

Here are Dangerous Diet Don'ts that
should be avoided.

  • Avoid starvation diets: A starvation diet (sometimes called "detox diet") is an extremely low calorie diet. Sometimes these diets call for a "no solid food" phase for 10 to 14 days or consumption of weird potions and concoctions.  These diets allow very limited food choices and generally require you to eat less than 1000 calories per day. Evidence-based research and medical professionals all recommend that people should not eat less than a minimum of 1200 calories per day. Why? Most importantly it can be dangerous and cause nutrient deficiencies. It is nearly impossible to get all the required nutrients your body needs to run properly and healthfully with less than 1200 calories per day.  In addition, when you don't feed yourself enough calories, you will actually slow down your body's metabolism, making weight loss even harder. Plus, when you "starve" yourself, your serotonin levels will fall. Serotonin is an important brain chemical that makes us happy, relaxed, and satisfied; a drop in this neurotransmitter will make you feel agitated and just plain cranky.  Finally, at this low energy level, it will feel almost impossible to exercise. Exercise is CRITICAL for long-term weight loss success. These "detox" diets promise quick weight loss, but they are not realistic long-term solutions to weight loss. As soon as you go off the diet and start eating real food, you will gain the weight back, and probably more. They are the quintessential catalyst of yo-yo dieting. Avoid these at all costs!  

  • Avoid dehydration techniques:  Losing body water will only change the number on the scale temporarily. As soon as you re-hydrate, you will gain the water weight back. Normal body water weight is healthy and fine. We need it for all bodily functions to run properly. AVOID these ineffective techniques for weight loss; they really only cause temporary weight loss and can be dangerous:  sauna suits, excessive exercise in the heat or with heavy clothes, detoxification and "cleansing" products (code word for enemas or laxatives) that cause diarrhea, and diuretic pills that make you urinate frequently. 

  • Avoid diet pills:  They don't work. Period!  Think about it: if all the magic diet pills marketed and sold actually worked, would the obesity epidemic continue to get worse?  Scientific research continues to show that diet pills don't work. Plus, many of those diet pills sold are considered "dietary supplements" and do not require FDA approval or scientific evidence to prove efficacy or safety. They may contain unsafe ingredients that can negatively impact your health. The herb Ephedra was marketed and sold as a weight loss drug and ergogenic aid for years, but it was finally taken off the market due to its severe side effects and its implication in the death of several athletes. If you notice and read the fine print on the bottles of many diet pills, they all state that they are effective only when coupled with a healthy diet and exercise. It is the healthy diet and exercise that causes the weight loss, not the magic pill. 

      Eating a healthy diet coupled with daily exercise is the key to long-term weight loss success. Avoid the unhealthy diet practices discussed above.