By Karen Massey RD/LD, CDE
Assess your starting point
Begin by keeping a food record. Write down everything you eat or drink for a few days. Use your food record as a tool for setting goals.
Eating fewer calories is the name of the game when it comes to losing weight. So count up the calories you eat in a typical day, and then subtract 200-3000 calories a day. For most people this is a great place to begin your road to weight loss. Another place to learn more about your personal calorie needs is www.MyPyramid.gov.
Aim to include wholesome foods. A well-selected food plan should include:
- WHOLE grains. (oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole-grain cereals)
- Fruits and Vegetables (include a variety of colors: red, green, orange, purple, brown, etc)
- Milk/Calcium Foods (milk, yogurt, cheese, ideally nonfat, or low fat)
- Lean Meat and Beans (moderate portions, lean)
- Heart Healthy Oils in small amounts. (olive oil, canola oil, tub margarine, nuts, nutbutters)
Small Changes Matter
Don't try to revamp your entire diet all at once. Start with small (but ultimately significant) changes:
- Eat a banana instead of a donut for a mid-morning snack.
- Pack your own lunch a couple days a week. (Most people "save" ~300 calories)
- Switch to a calorie-free drink.
- Try a carton of yogurt instead of a big dish of ice-cream. (There are many "dessert" flavors)
- Put salsa on your baked potato instead of butter and sour cream.
- Munch on crisp veggies, carrots, celery, peppers, etc., while you're making dinner.
Fast Food Tricks Did you know?
- The ¼ pound burger is a better pick than the fish sandwich?
- That a cheese burger (single patty) has more nutritional value than chicken strips?
- That muffins have as many (or more) calories than donuts?
- Pot Pies have more calories than a large piece of fried chicken?
- Taco Salads (w/dressing and shell) have more calories than 2-3 soft tacos?
- Large "creamy" coffee drinks have as many calories as many large sandwiches?
- Eating a bag of chips and a cookie has more calories (and less nutrition) than eating a 6-inch sub. (Get the 12-inch and forego the chips and cookies)