10 Tips, Switches and Tricks for Weight Loss and Healthier Eating

Jen Slack's picture
dinner dish

Losing weight and becoming healthier doesn't have to be a drastic change from the standard American diet (SAD) of burgers, fries and pizza to salads for every meal. In fact, it should not be anything like that.

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Unfortunately, too many people seem to have that kind of unrealistic perception and just continue on without making any changes.

The truth is that you can make relatively-easy, positive changes here and there to your current diet, and remain as part of your diet forever.

1) Drink a glass of water before each meal.

Drinking a glass water before each meal, not only aids the digestion of your meal, it will make you feel fuller. If you feel fuller, you will eat less. Aim to drink it 20 minutes or so before you eat. Once you are used to that, drink a glass of water with your meal too.

If you hate the taste of water, start with a small glass and eventually go to a bigger one. I know I did not like the taste of water when I first started drinking it years ago, however, now I love it.

2) When you crave a salty snack, trade it the chips for air popped popcorn.

Popcorn is surprisingly low in calories, compared to chips and other salty packaged snacks. Microwave popcorn is not just high in calories, but has some possible links to cancer. Air pop your own and then add some sea salt or popcorn seasoning. You can purchase many different flavorings, like ranch or dill and sprinkle it on. If you feel you need a bit of healthy oil to make the seasonings stick, go ahead and use a bit of avocado oil or coconut oil.

This simple change to your snack life, can cut your calorie drastically. For example, 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, sprinkled all over 2 cups of popcorn is still under 100 calories, whereas 2 cups of Doritos is three times the calories, at around 300 calories.

3) Switch out soda for water

It may not be an easy thing to do, but if you have a habit of drinking two cans or two of soda a day, you are adding 300 calories each day. Three hundred empty calories that might even be harmful. Those calories add up.

My own experience in cutting down was gradual. There was a time when I regularly drank about 4 to 5 cans of coke per day, and was somehow on the low end of what they call the ideal weight. However, that was when I was in my 20's. Thankfully, I didn't suffer from any health-related problems due to, what was likely, an addiction. That was many years ago. I eventually tapered that down significantly to 1 can per day, to the point where I rarely drink it it at all. In the last year, I may have had 3 cokes, each time while dining out. I would not be surprised at in the coming year, I don't have a single one, because I have to say, in all honesty, I don't miss it.

And those with an addiction to diet sodas, are not off the hook. Diet sodas have been the subject of studies. This one demonstrates how it can mess up your metabolism.

4) Switch white bread out for whole grain.

Or, if that is too much of a jump, switch out white bread for 60 percent whole wheat. You can pat yourself on the back about any positive changes you make.

5) Try adding some herbal teas to your diet

There are so many delicious herbal teas with so many various benefits to your health. Or if you drink green teas, think about switching it out for matcha tea, a more potent version of green tea.

6) Drink your tea or coffee black, instead of with cream and sugar.

If you can't totally make the switch, just do it gradually.

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I can relate. I used to drink my coffee double cream with double sugar. It took me about 15 years to reduce that to black. That's a long time. You can do faster. You won't miss it either.

7) Ditch the deep fryer

Donate the deep fryer to your local charity. Learn to pan-fry foods, with a much smaller amount of oil. Or bake them in the oven brushing on a bit of oil, rather than dousing your foods in oil and having them soak up all of those extra calories.

I have friends with an Actifry, where you get the taste of deep fry, but with very little oil. I may invest in one of those, myself, if I can figure out which other gadgets can leave my kitchen pantry in order to make room for this rather cumbersome thing.

8) Learn to cook and bake with natural sweeteners instead of sugar.

The findings on whether or not sugar feeds the growth of cancer cells leaves me wary of sugar. In this recent Belgian study, there appears a connection. So why not swap out the sugar where you can, in various recipes, for maple syrup, honey (unless you are vegan), stevia, or agave? Try this delicious orange creamsicle flavor ice cream, sweetened with stevia.

Be creative. You can also sweeten up your baked goods with pureed dates, or other pureed fruits to add some natural sweetness. There are so many ways to add sweetness without sugar these days.

My favorite dessert in the last couple of weeks has been unsweetened coconut yogurt, topped with maple syrup and a sprinkling of green pumpkin seeds. If you have not heard of the benefits of the green pumpkin seeds, read more here.

9) Add more seeds and nuts

Speaking of seeds, make it a habit to add more seeds and nuts to your everyday, normal diet. My household has no problem with this, especially with pistachios. However, I do try to add a few others for variety and to reap other healthy rewards. I often add pumpkin seeds, walnuts or almonds to various quick breads like banana or pumpkin bread. At dinner time, on the salads, I often use pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts. And then, I enjoy making trail mix with a various amount of other kinds of beneficial nuts and seed. Here is a great recipe to try.

10) Less meat, more veggies and fruits

It is my own personal opinion that the fact that there are people who are vegan can live to be 100, it just goes to show that humans do not really need meat to survive. But if you must eat meat, try cutting back, especially on processed meats, which are linked to cancer.

If you remain to this day, unconvinced that vegetables really taste good, then think about this, for a moment. If you were to cook a piece of meat in the oven with no marinades, spices, seasonings or oils - just a plain piece of meat and then serve in on a plate with no sauce or toppings, would you actually think this was something that tastes good?

I would assert that we could treat numerous vegetables - red pepper, corn, sweet potato, green beans and a host of other vegetables and cook them the same way with the same lack of spices, marinates and sauces would taste better than a slab of any kind of meat, cooked in that same manner.

I think the truth is the meat tastes good because of what we do to it - the marinades, the spices, the breading, the frying, the sauces, the oils etc.

If you haven't tasted enough vegetables with marinades, spices and sauces, it is time you upped your game - for the health of it.

If chefs around the world are rising to the challenge, so can you. Read more about the rapid evolution of the vegan chef.

Take a look at Jamie Oliver's best dishes for this Veganuary.

Veganuary is the vegan challenge to go without meat or dairy for month. Could you do it? Will you try it?

Have you made any permanent changes to your diet? Please share your comments, share this article and feel free to ask questions.

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