There are many influences on a person's weight including physiology, psychology and the environment. The latter, in my opinion, has perhaps the greatest influence in our society. Case in point: this past Saturday I was in a large arts and crafts store and noticed something strange when I reached the cash – they were selling candy. From licorice to chocolate, the selection was huge. But why would a crafts store be selling these products? The answer is simple- to capitalize on impulse shoppers. We've all been there; you're tired and haven't eaten in several hours when you are suddenly faced with an array of sweets. And since you're hungry, deciding to purchase a chocolate bar is a much easier choice. Below are some strategies to help minimize the likelihood of impulse buys, but first think about how readily available food is today. It used to be that it was only available at markets or if you grew it at home. Now it can be purchased at gas stations, business supply stores, and hardware stores, to name a few.
a) Ensure organized eating. By this I mean having breakfast, eating every 2-3 hours and ensuring protein at all meals and snacks.
b) Stay hydrated. Many times we mistake hunger for thirst so make sure you are drinking throughout the day. As a general guideline, aim for 2-3 litres of fluid per day. Water is your best choice as it is calorie-free.
c) Utilize a car-kit. This is an easy way to avoid hunger and temptation at the checkout. Pack a lunch bag with nuts, protein bars, crackers and peanut butter for example and leave in the backseat or trunk. Remember to restock frequently.
d) Do not shop when tired or stressed. Doing so may result in choosing sweets as a way to cope. In addition, feeling tired lowers ones inhibitions making saying no to sweets that much tougher.
Mark McGill, RD
With breakfast and lunch ideas already provided, it’s time to finish off the meals with dinner. Amounts and calories will vary depending on individual needs. At a minimum, aim for ~300 calories and 20g protein minimum for woman, ~400 calories, 20g protein for men. For recipe/seasoning ideas, be sure to visit cookinglight.com
a) Baked salmon (~200 calories), quinoa (~100-200), grilled asparagus (~50)
b) Baked boneless, skinless chicken breast (~150), wild rice (~150), steamed spinach (~50)
c) Stir-fried tofu (~200), red peppers, snow peas, onions, bean sprouts (50-100)
d) Home-made pizza dough (~300), cheese (120), tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms (~50-100)
e) Lean, ground meat of your choice (e.g. turkey, chicken, beef) (~200), spaghetti squash (~50-100), crushed tomatoes (~50), vegetables of your choice (~50)
Mark McGill, RD
My last post describing what often takes place when one stops tracking got me thinking: “How can one make tracking easier and more efficient?” The following are suggestions that will hopefully make food journaling the easiest part of your day. It’s important to note that when you are first starting out, it will most likely take more time and effort. Of course, this is true of almost anything including new jobs, new relationships, and new hobbies/activities (e.g. sports). Rest assured that it should get faster as time goes on.
a) Record in advance. If you know what you are having ahead of time, make note of it early. For example, record your breakfast the night before or your packed lunch made in the morning.
b) Make a cheat sheet. We normally cycle through roughly thirty different foods so recording the portion sizes and calories of these foods all in one place will save time. Hint: there is a cheat sheet located in the back of the BMI food journal. As time passes, you’ll also probably start memorizing the calories for these common foods.
c) Use acronyms or short-hand. Instead of writing peanut butter and jam sandwich, why not simply write pb&j sand? You can also condense your breakfasts by calling them “breakfast A”, “breakfast B”, etc… So long as you make note of the individual components at least once.
d) Use smartphone apps. If you have access to a smartphone, consider tracking via one of the many apps such as myfitnesspal, mynetdiary or Sparkpeople. Many apps include a “save meal”, “copy meal” and frequent or recent items options that make tracking as simple as a few taps. If you’re well organized from a meal-planning standpoint, it’s possible to pre-populate your entire week and then simply modify as required throughout. This is also possible via writing.
Once you get some tracking time under your belt, it should take no longer than about five minutes per day.
Mark McGill, RD
Most of us (myself included) go through a stretch where we stop recording our intake. This can be for a variety of reasons including family or work stress, vacations, illness or simply forgetting to track one day and then not resuming as it has not yet become a habit. Whatever the reason, when you stop tracking the following is what can and often does occur:
a) Calorie intake increases: when you are not writing your calories down it is next to impossible to know how many you are consuming. Estimating is unreliable and it is very easy to forget that mouthful of chili you tasted as you prepared dinner or the piece of chicken you finished off your child's plate. It's also easier to convince yourself that the piece of cake you had didn't count or have as many calories as it actually does.
b) Food quality decreases: It is much easier to consume chips, pop and fast food if you don't record it. As the saying goes: “out of sight, out of mind”.
c) Thoughtfulness decreases: When you diarize you take ownership of what you are eating which often results in more thoughtful choices. For example, knowing that the cookies you have for dessert each night have 300 calories will likely result in you having less per serving and/or not consuming them as frequently.
All of the above usually leads to weight gain and an overall less healthy lifestyle.
To stay in the habit of recording, make sure you track each day even if it is incomplete or involves guessing. Simply writing that you had a piece of steak and baked potato at a friend's barbeque is enough to keep you in the routine. And remember: do not get discouraged if you miss an entry. Simply resume the very next time you eat; treat each entry as separate. Perfection in anything is impossible so do your very best.
Mark McGill, RD
Awhile back, I posted on Greek yogurt and how your best bet was unflavoured or natural as the flavoured varieties contained, on average 10g of added sugar (2.5 teaspoons worth). To put that into perspective, woman should limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 6 teaspoons/day and men 9 teaspoons/day. Too much added sugar in the diet has been linked to heart disease and cancer.
And while I still think it's best to use the plain variety and sweeten it with added fruit, I was happy to see that there are now no added sugar flavoured varieties on the market. Currently, there are two brands that serve 100g sizes: Source and Silhouette. I suspect that we will see more become available, shortly. I tried the Silhouette brand and it was very good. Rich, creamy and filling with 8 grams of protein per 100g serving (compared to 3-4g protein in traditional-style yogurt). There are 4g of sugar, but it is from the fruit and lactose in the yogurt. All-in-all, this is a great product that I am comfortable suggesting to my clients. The only downside is the price: 4x100g will cost you in the $5.00-$7.00 range, though they did have 0.50-$1.50 off coupons next to the display.
Nutritional Information (per 100g serving Tropical Delight flavour)
Mark McGill, RD
“coming, I will be more active”. This is a comment that I here almost daily this time of year. And I couldn't be happier that my clients want to increase their physical activity as it's one of the best things a person can do to improve their health. My concern is when clients believe that this increase in activity will lead to weight loss. While it can buffer your intake (you may get away with an extra 100 calories/day), it is highly unlikely that you will notice a difference on the scale - if anything, you may notice that you gain weight as you overestimate the number of calories burned during activity and underestimate how many you consume. For example, let's say that you burn 200 calories (the average amount of calories burned for a 180 pound individual) during your 45 minute power walk but then have a 300 calorie snack (e.g. 500mL chocolate milk – touted as a healthy post-exercise choice (FYI: it's not as it is very high in added sugar)) immediately after words. You have now erased the deficit you created and added an additional 100 calories.
Not only that, but what happens when the poor weather comes back and you curtail your outdoor time? Many become sedentary once more until the nicer weather returns. Instead, focus on finding ways to stay active all year round whether it is outside or indoors. Spin classes, weight-training, the treadmill or stationary biking can be done year-round. During the winter months, why not try cross-country skiing or skating?
Mark McGill, RD