First Things First
A common strategy to attempt to lose weight is to skip breakfast. The thinking here is that delaying eating as long as possible will result in an overall calorie deficit. Nothing could be farther from the truth for most people. When we skip breakfast, we feel entitled to eat whatever we find until whatever time we have set as our “first” meal. This usually involves simple carbs in the form of cake, cookies, doughnuts, cupcakes and muffins.
(The recipe above is a healthy version of a traditional cinnamon coffee cake. There’s no sugar or white flour to cause insulin highs and addiction.)
When we start our day with a hefty dose of sugar, we have nowhere to go but down. The sugar and simple carbs in the white flour-based bakery goods prompt an insulin release which causes us to get ravenously hungry before lunch. Since we “didn’t eat breakfast”, we assume we can have whatever we want for lunch, and plenty of it! With that mindset, and extreme hunger, working overtime in our brains we will invariable have too many calories at this “first” meal of the day. A small step to weight loss is to prepare for the day with good nutrition.
A large blueberry muffin has 490 calories. Add that to the 12 oz. Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks for 300 calories and your “No Breakfast” strategy cost you 790 calories before lunch. It would have been so much better to have had 1 cup of cooked oats with 2 Tablespoons of pecans, 2 eggs and even 2 slices of bacon for about 500! Nutritious food is ALWAYS a calorie bargain. Choose foods that offer dense nutrition for modest calories.
This protein-packed blueberry muffin offers great taste with good nutrition. If you like a muffin for breakfast, try these!
The time between arising and lunch is a landmine for nutrition unless you plan well! As the stress of the day increases, cortisol surges through your body to energize you for the tasks at hand. The problem with all that energizing is that the magical cortisol that gives you energy to burn also makes you seek out energy in the form of food. Quite often quick sources of energy are readily available everywhere you turn. Coworkers and so-called friends alike will deliberately sabotage your best laid plans for good nutrition. They will provide plenty of opportunities for you to eat poorly, so ALWAYS have healthy food with you. This is when you need to have healthy snacks prepared ahead of time. I am well known for having healthy food packed into a huge backpack everywhere I go. Remember, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” If you don’t provide yourself with good nutrition, you are planning to fail. Don’t fool yourself. You have chosen to eat poorly in that situation. We live, and die… with the good or bad decisions that we make.
Ah, don’t we love lunch? The combination of a break in our workday and food is a win/win situation! There’s nothing wrong with a burger! You can even have a normal serving of fries but be sure that you know what a serving is. A serving of fries is 12-15 fries, or about 140 calories. It is NOT the super-sized version that has about 600 calories. We get into trouble when we allow food pushers decide how much we will eat. It’s a sales ploy on the food pusher’s part to make you think that a serving of fries is enough for four people. Use the brain God gave you to check nutrition facts before making foolish choices at lunch. A milkshake, or fried apple pie, or a piece of chocolate cake big enough for an entire baseball team is not part of a healthy lunch. Skip the added sugars. Choose a good burger and a small order of fries and a 0-calorie drink if you like burgers for lunch and you will be fine.
Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in the pasta/alcohol lunch brigade. Years ago, I went to a doctor whose staff went to a popular Italian restaurant at lunch and had lots of pasta AND ALCOHOL. By the time he fired the whole gang, each one of those women had gained at least 50 pounds. They gained every bit of that weight AT LUNCH. Use some common sense. Just because nobody knows that you drink alcohol at lunch does not make it calorie-free. A small step to weight loss is to avoid alcohol altogether.
Grilled chicken salads are a lunch staple for many people, but we tend to grow tired of them pretty quickly. Even then, count your calories! A grilled chicken salad saturated in creamy dressing and cheese is NOT a calorie bargain. Figure out how to eat the foods you actually like with fewer calories. The burger doesn’t have to have a half cup of mayonnaise and cheese. I weigh 16 grams of mayo for a burger. That’s 1 Tablespoon and that’s enough even for me. I love mayonnaise. Remember, if you make poor choices, you are only cheating yourself.
Mid-afternoon snacks should follow the same rules as mid-morning. Include a good protein source to increase afternoon alertness. Complex carbs like apples are fine but make sure to add some protein to stay full and alert until dinner or you might be tempted to grab a sugary snack before dinner. A small step to weight loss is to never allow yourself to get too hungry! String cheese or a handful of nuts will round out that apple nicely.
If you have made wise decisions throughout your day, you should have enough calories left for a great dinner with ample protein and complex carbohydrates. Avoid the temptation to hit the drive-thru by planning your meals ahead of time. A small step to weight loss is to eat quality food whenever possible. If you have a protein source already prepared, it’s easy to just pop a potato in the microwave and make a salad. Sweet potatoes are a superfood and cook just like a white potato in the microwave. If you have a baked white potato, avoid loading it up with too much cheese and sour cream. A Tablespoon of olive oil and a shake of your favorite seasoning such as chili-lime will make a luscious potato with half the calories.
If you need a little something extra before bed, a protein shake can be an excellent choice. It will fill you up and satisfy a sweet craving at the same time. You might also opt for a cup of Greek yogurt with a 0-calorie sweetener and fruit. I much prefer full-fat Greek yogurt. It tastes like cream cheese and really helps keep me from getting hungry much longer than the low-fat versions.
AT this time of year, many people say they want to lose weight for the summer. You can do exactly that IF you make a plan and then STICK TO YOUR PLAN. See your doctor to get approval to lose weight, plan your meals, count your calories and get the exercise that your doctor approves AND YOU WILL DO. Remember, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
As Nike says, “Just Do It.”