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Archive for category healthy snacks

Healthy Choices at the Grocery Store

This is not it.

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If you’ve seen the commercials for some of these products, you may believe that they are healthy. Not true. Most of these types of products are marketed as ‘filling’ or ‘healthy’ in some way. But in reality, many have as much sugar as a candy bar. Not to mention all of the other random crap in them. They are devoid of many nutrients. This goes for a LOT more than what I captured in this photo the other day while I was grocery shopping.

Now, if you use things like these (granola bars, snack bars, pop tarts) because you need snacks or quick options, I have good news. You can still eat more healthfully and still quickly with some slightly different choices. Check the health food/organic isle for snack bars. Personally, I find the Lara Bars the most delish. And they’re not made with a bunch of junk, instead it’s got real foods in it. Imagine that. Check that isle for other snacks too. Just remember that things like chips are still chips even if they’re organic. 🙂

Other quick grab & go snacks that are way more healthy than the options in the picture:

* Individual organic chocolate milk

* Greek yogurt (get the real stuff, like Chobani, Fage, or the icelandic versions)

* 1 ounce cheese (cut off the servings when you buy the cheese and individually wrap so they’re easy to grab) with Nut Thins (Crackers made from almonds, not wheat! And SO yummy!)

* Fruit

* Leftovers (When you make a healthy meal for dinners, double the recipes and package up the leftovers into smaller containers so you can take them as snacks or lunches, etc)

I’d love to know, do you buy any of the items in the photo? If so, do you buy them because you thought they were healthy – or at least not ‘unhealthy’?

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Healthy Snacks – need ideas?

Recently I’ve been asked many times for thoughts on what exactly ‘healthy snacks’ are. First, we’re talking about snacks because you should be eating something every few hours. They do not have to be fancy. Just healthy. This will help increase your metabolism and keep it humming.

I have my own favorite snacks that I eat every day. I’ve shared those with many of you. They include cheese with whole grain crackers, greek yogurt, fruit, vegetable salad (with homemade dressing), and shakeology. But I realize that’s not much to choose from. Works for me, but I know some of you would like more options. So I asked my fitfluential friends on Twitter for their favorite healthy snacks.

So here you go, from some of my fitness friends:

  • Power crunch bars, grapes, whole grain crackers and cheese – @MsPumpnRun
  • Almonds, cottage cheese, hummus, apple slices – @clwkerric
  • Hummus with veggies, homemade trail mix, protein pancakes, fruit, greek yogurt, unsalted nuts, rice cakes with sugar free jelly – @MissLegallyFit
  • Homemade granola, fresh fruit, greek yogurt – @WholeFoodJunkie
  • No bake energy bites (Recipe here:  http://pipersrun.com/2012/03/02/no-bake-energy-bites/ ) @PipersRun
  • Pour Kefir over frozen fruit, it’s like ice cream – @danisandy
  • Veggies & peanut butter, almonds & apples, sweet potato pudding (Recipe here: http://makingfithappen.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/sweet-potato-pudding-delicious-nutritious-and-better-than-it-sounds/) @MakingFitHappen
  • Grapes, green olives,  hummus, walnuts or nut thins – @afoodiestaysfit
  • Mix tomatoes, broccoli, basil, olives, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper – @xoAnge74ox
  • Fruit with almonds, greek yogurt with blueberries or banana, nut thins, peanut butter in a whole wheat tortilla, cottage cheese and frozen fruit, a good protein shake with almond milk, hummus and carrots, scrambled egg whites, guacamole with grape tomatoes, lara bars (link:    ) – @BananaOats
  • Banana date oat bars (Recipe here: http://healthyhelperblog.com/2012/02/26/two-winners-two-recipes/) – @Healthy_Helper

So there you have it. I hope this helps you find some new ideas…and I’m sure you can see, there are many common themes here. There’s a reason for that!

Here’s one of my fav salads for either a meal or a snack…fresh spinach, tomatoes, black olives, feta cheese, avocado, EVOO, lemon juice and vinegar. Yuuuummmm!

 What are YOUR favorite healthy snacks?

 

 

 

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Don’t Give Up {we all have slip ups!}

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Well, I just ate {Fill in the Blank} so my diet it shot”.

I’m here to tell you, no it’s not! Don’t give up on yourself that easily. Nutrition is not black and white. One slip up doesn’t really mean anything to your body or your results. You did not “ruin your diet” by giving into temptation here and there. And if you’re on a “diet” that makes you think that, then you should consider ridding yourself from that “diet” and work on healthy eating instead. One of my favorite Pinterest finds tells it best:

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Remember, eating too little or very restricted gives you the opposite results you want (Unless you ARE looking to either gain weight or look weak?)

I prefer to think of my diet as:

A) More of a life-style, which is of course fluid

B) A weekly endeavor. I try to eat well most days, but I take it as a whole for the week. So a ‘bad’ meal or two is puny over the course of  a week.

C) Negotiable (to an extent). I’m a proponent of not giving up the things that you love. You must just learn moderation. If I eat super well Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then someone brings cake to work Thursday..I’m happy to eat a piece. Cake is something I love. I don’t eat it every day. Or even every week. If I denied myself cake once in a while, I’d be miserable and would be VERY likely to fall back into a cycle of eating crappy consistently because I GAVE UP. {Remember the boxes of thin mints that I discussed a couple weeks ago (Plan of attack – Thin Mints, my nemesis.)? Well I devoured two boxes in just a few days, I’m embarrassed to say. BUT, I’m happy to reveal that that did NOT result in ANY weight gain or loss of muscle, etc…it’s all about the balance!}

So. That’s all I have for you for today. I want to keep this short so the message isn’t lost. If you have a slip up or two (or four), DON’T GIVE UP. It does NOT mean that you failed. You just start right back where you left of with your healthy lifestyle. The benefits you’ve gained from those days where you did eat well DO remain and you’re forming those healthy habits regardless. Just don’t give them up so easily!

Tell me, have you ever given up on a healthy-eating endeavor or anything else because you slipped up?

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A good piece of advice

You know how they always say not to go to the grocery store hungry? Well, that’s still true, but I’d like to put it out there that it’s also not wise to leave home at ALL when you’re hungry. You’re a lot more likely to eat something away from your house that you wouldn’t normally choose. When you’re trying to make healthier diet choices, eating out increases your chances of making poor choices. Have a snack before you leave the house to run errands or even before you go to work. Just make it a healthy snack. It’ll help you eat less calories in the long run and also help prevent making poor quality choices as well. And hey, you’ll probably save some money this way too. Grabbing an apple on the way out the door is a heck of a lot cheaper than a value meal at your nearest fast food restaurant.

Some good options to keep in your kitchen for these last minute snacks are fruit, single serve chocolate milks, greek yogurts, kashi cereal bars, string cheese, shakeology, or small baggies full of raw veggies.  Even if you’re not hungry before you head out, it may be a good idea to grab a piece of fruit on the way out the door anyway. If you’re like me, you’ll be hungry in an hour or two, and if you’re still out and about away from the house then, you’ll have that fruit ready.

I’m sure there’s other great options for snacks on the go…what are your favorites?

~To Your Health~

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It’s the quality of your food that counts, too.

We’ve probably all been told (or told ourselves), “If you can just stop eating chips (or sweets, or fast food), you’ll be good to go”. Well if only it was that simple!

We like to think that eating out is the enemy. And it is, to an extent. But if you’re not keeping a careful eye on what you’re fixing your family every night for dinner, it may not be much better than eating out.

Case in point; do you cook frozen pizza for dinner? How about breaded chicken tenders from the freezer? Maybe macaroni and cheese as a side with dinner? Take a peek at those labels. You may be surprised. All the calories, fat & sodium in these convenience foods is enough to make a grown man at least wince. Or enough to put on a few pounds. Just because you bought it from the store doesn’t make it healthy. For instance, there’s typically enough calories and fat in a ‘side’ of macaroni and cheese to just about equal what a whole dinner SHOULD be. Especially if you made it from a box.

Eating healthy and lean doesn’t have to be complicated. You just have to be aware. Your homework is to check every label of every item you use regularly and look at the serving size too. Be honest with yourself. If the serving size of your spaghetti noodles says 1/3 cup, put 1/3 cup in a measuring cup, put it on the plate, and see what it REALLY looks like. Is that the amount you usually eat? Do the math and see what your dinners really stack up to be. On average, dinners usually shouldn’t be more than about 400-500 calories, and full of whole grains, veggies and lean proteins. Lighter dinners can be easy. A simple, marinated boneless skinless chicken breast with a side of steamed veggies and a small helping of quinoa can be ready in less than 30 minutes. A light chicken casserole with brown rice can be very comforting and warm and also ready in about 30 minutes. Better yet, check out some slow cooker recipes. Look for things that use lean meats and non-rich sauces.

I’m happy to help vet ideas – or to send you recipes. Just email me! 🙂 fithappy@yahoo.com – and as always, you can always sign up for free to have me as your fitness/health coach: just go www.TurboRomero.com & click join. Select the free option and I can help you with your fitness and diet goals. Or if you want extra information, the paid option has the added benefit of a wonderful, healthy meal planner & the recipes are actually REALLY tasty and filling.

In the meantime, check what you’re cooking. Aside from calories, fat, sodium and all the other crazy stuff that’s in convenience foods,  consider all the preservatives, hormones and other lovely things that they are stuffed with. Heck, even chicken nuggets are typically not real, whole chicken pieces. Sad, but true…and detrimental to losing weight and the overall health of your family…

~To Your Health~

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Help! I’m craving….

We all have cravings. When you’re trying to watch what you’re eating, whether you’re counting calories or just cutting back on things like sugar, preservatives, whatever, it’s still hard to curb those cravings. But there are ways to indulge or to divert those cravings with healthier choices. The hardest part is those first few weeks of trying to NOT eat something or eat a lot less of it. For instance, in December of 2010, I decided I was going to eat healthier, watch my calories, and I started running. Now, all went pretty well because I was motivated. However, I have always had a sweet tooth. Not many people don’t, I know. But when you’re trying to cut back on sweets, you feel like you’re the only one who could possibly know what that feels like to NEED your dessert. That’s it, you need it. It IS like an addiction. So you have to treat it like one. First, recognize that it’s going to be difficult. Now, accept that you may have moments of weakness. That does not make it a failure. Any time you have a bad day of eating or a few days of no workout, don’t fall of the wagon. Just jump right back in. A few moments of weakness doesn’t mean that your journey is over.

Once your mind is in the right place, it’s time to start working on cutting back or eliminating those things you crave. Now, if you’re craving broccoli…then please, keep on eating it! But for those of us that crave junk food, read on.

First, recognize when your cravings set in. To do this, keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat, and at what time. You may also write down things that were going on or what you were feeling when you ate certain things. This can be helpful if you’re an emotional eater. You can identify those triggers this way and start to divert the attention to another habit. After keeping a journal for a few days you will likely start seeing where your weaknesses are. Perhaps you already know yours. You may not need a journal to identify it. But for some people, those weaknesses are hidden, you can convince yourself they don’t exist or they aren’t that bad. For me, I was eating dessert after every dinner. But I was failing to realize that the random sweets I ate throughout the day amounted to as much as they did. So, maybe I had a cookie after lunch. Maybe I had a piece of dark chocolate after that. And then I may even have another cookie when I get home. I mean, one cookie can’t hurt, right? And then my usual dessert after dinner because, well, that’s usual. Writing all of it down and seeing it stare me in the face was enlightening.

But how can I overcome these cravings, you may ask? Well, for some people, cold turkey is the best way. Sounds simple. It’s not, really. First, you have to get rid of all temptations, get it all out of your pantry and freezer and your desk at work. You also have to have a powerful motivation to succeed here. A good motivator is to know that after a few weeks of cold turkey, your habit WILL be broken. It’s sort of a detoxing process. Your body craves something, like I mentioned earlier, like an addiction. Stopping that indulgence can be difficult in the beginning. You may experience mood swings, headaches, or other symptoms of that nature. If you can get through that part and get past it, you will get over those cravings.

Some folks can’t go cold turkey. Understandable. For those people, I recommend a replacement and weaning technique. Get rid of the REALLY bad indulgences from your kitchen and replace with LESS bad things. Start paying attention to serving sizes and you’ll have cut your intake already. So if brownies and cookies are your thing, get rid of them. Go out and get some replacements such as reduced sugar ice cream & light chocolate syrup. And actually measure out the serving sizes. This will start to help you teach yourself control over portions. Go get chocolate graham crackers (or regular ones), get sugar free chocolate pudding, Bear Naked chocolate chip cookies, and so on. As long as you’re actually replacing what you’d normally eat with one of these types of *better* things, you’re reducing your intake and also slowing weaning yourself from expecting the really awful things. This technique can be tricky. You still have to pay very good attention to how much of these replacements you’re eating. You may subconsciously eat more since you know it’s *better* for you. Keep writing everything in your food journal so you can watch it. And really, measure out those serving sizes and stick to it, it will help you control it.

Finally, when it comes to weaning yourself off of the *better* options, you can start with eating only one of your indulgences per day. A lot of this is mental, so if you’re trying to stop eating, say dessert after lunch and just want to keep it to eating it after dinner, you may need to find something else to DO after lunch. Replacing that time with something else, if you will. So maybe after lunch you go walk the dog now. Or you read a book for 10 minutes. Anything to keep your mind off of it for a few minutes and start a new habit in it’s place.

Eventually, if you want to cut it ALL out, you’d just repeat that weaning step again for any remaining servings you have been eating. For me, I eventually quit eating dessert after dinner. That was hard since I’d done it for so many years. I ended up replacing dessert with a workout. May sound crazy to you, but trust me, it’s not. Once you get ‘hooked’ on a workout and you really love it, you will WANT to do it. It’s a perfect opportunity to use that workout to replace another bad habit! That feeling you get after a great workout, one that was fun and taxing, it’s actually a type of high. It produces a new addiction. A good one. So go for it!

So tell me, have you had any experiences in trying to break a craving or a habit? How did it work out? Are you trying to break one now?

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