The American Heart Association Dietary Guidelines not only stress healthy eating, but also include the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Balancing the calories you eat against those you burn translates into watching your portion sizes and including physical activity for weight control.
Making lifestyle changes means exactly that, a change in your way of life. Not only cutting back for a few weeks while you “diet” but making small changes a few at a time. These changes are likely to be maintained over the long haul.
Portion size is a small change, but it’s a lifestyle choice that can make a big difference. We’re challenged daily to remind ourselves that we don’t need to eat the whole thing. Huge portions served by restaurants, all-you-can-eat-buffets and extra-large, so-called single servings of chips, candy bars and other snack foods all contribute to overeating. Research shows that once we are used to these large portion sizes, we also overeat at home. Most of the time, we’re not even aware we’re doing it. Just an extra 10 calories per day translates to one pound gained in one year. Make a conscious effort to downsize your portions, and at the rate of 10 calories per day, you’ll see a big difference in your body weight in the long run.
Do your heart a favor and avoid portion distortion by practicing these simple tips:
Learn what normal portions look like so that you’ll know when to count something like a jumbo bagel or muffin as two or three servings instead of one.
Become aware of how much you’re eating by turning off the TV at home during meal time, and choose not to eat while driving or talking on the phone. These distractions cause you to eat more than you realize.
Today’s plates are larger, and that encourages us to eat more. Find a smaller plate. When you fill up a smaller plate, you’ll feel like you’re getting more.
Do your heart a favor instead of your wallet and bypass the value-super-sized meals. Order a regular size instead of the mega-meal.
Remember that high-calorie beverages in giant sizes can show up on the waistline. For just a few cents more, you can consume more calories than you might think. Pass up the good deal and purchase a smaller size drink. Better yet, drink calorie-free water more often.
Learn how to read food labels. What is inside the package isn’t necessarily a single serving. The number of calories listed may be for two or more servings in spite of what you may be used to eating at one time. Do the math or, better yet, eat only one serving.
Make it easy and measure out a single serving. It’s too tempting to just keep munching when you eat directly out of the bag.
If you don’t want to give up the higher-fat condiment choices, like sour cream, mayonnaise, salad dressing or cream cheese, eat half the amount or choose a non-fat version. That change alone will save a lot of calories.
If you’re feeling deprived but don’t trust yourself to eat less of a favorite high-fat, high calorie food like ice cream, split one order between you and a friend.
Source: Colorado Cooperative Extension
Cranberry Chicken Salad
2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
6 tablespoons reduced-fat salad dressing
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup chopped celery
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director.