Healthy Eating Tips

CATEGORIES: Informational Posts, Kate

So now that we’re about two weeks into healthy eating month, reality is setting in. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ALL good intentions until I become pre-menstrual and mean old ladies start giving my loud children and I dirty looks at church and then I become a snivelling ball of chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-craving baby. Let’s face it–the daily grind can wear you down, January is a rough month for a lot of people, and the economy right now could drive anyone straight into the arms of Ben and Jerry. So we have some tips that we hope will help keep you on track, even when times get tough.

1. Keep your house stocked with healthy snacks

This is the #1 thing for me–I’m a stress eater and I eat when I’m bored. And sometimes when I’m bored, I’m stressed, which, as I’m sure you can all imagine, is a fabulous situation. You’d think that when you’re trying to eat right and lose weight, you should rid your cupboards of anything easy and tasty, but I’ve found the opposite to be the case: when I throw out all the snacky foods, the mid-afternoon blahs find me with a spoonful of Nutella watching Full House re-runs, not completely sure how I got there. What are some of our favorite snacks? Glad you asked!

–String cheese

–Low-fat yogurt; I love the tanginess of low-fat Dannon Activia and usually just get a big container of vanilla just for its versatility. I eat it plain or, if I’m feeling particularly wild and crazy, mix it with a little Kashi Go-Lean Crunch and some frozen berries (think along the lines of a McDonald’s parfait, which, by the way, is a GREAT snack when you’re out and about!)

–Turkey, ham, and roast beef slices

–Keep fresh veggies chopped and in a little ice water in your fridge; you can dip in hummus or low-fat Ranch

–Flavored nuts

–Light popcorn

–Fat-free Jello pudding topped with a mixture of fat-free Cool Whip and peanut butter

–Apple slices and peanut butter

–Half a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, hummus and veggies (like lettuce or spinach, sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.), etc. I also LOVE the combo of a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter.

–100 calorie packs

–Sugar-free gum (keeps my mouth busy when I stop talking…)

–Juice or sugar-free Popsicles

–Fudgesicles

–Dreyer’s or Edy’s Slow-Churned ice cream

2. Don’t deprive yourself

Okay, I’m not giving you license to go out and unwrap this beauty single-forkedly. But there’s something to be said for having a little bit of the real thing. Honestly, I would rather have a tiny piece of real cheesecake than a giant piece of sugar-free, fat-free chemical-laden junk.

Along those lines, a little bit of a great thing goes a long way. For example…

–Use mini chocolate chips so they go further; finely chop a smaller amount of nuts to more evenly distribute the flavor. Etc., etc.

–Instead of using a lot of milder cheese, use a smaller amount of a sharper, more flavorful cheese.

–Personally, I only like scrambled eggs in a pan that’s been coated in butter, so if I use a little non-stick cooking spray and a little butter, I can still get that butter flavor without contributing to my early demise.

–Bacon is very flavorful and a little goes a long way and actually isn’t really THAT bad in moderation. Just be sure and drain it well.

3. Choose your products carefully

There are some light products that taste almost identical to their full-fat versions. Paul Newman light salad dressings are amazing. Also, I can’t tell a difference between light and regular mayonnaise; light and regular cream cheese are pretty darn close! And to be honest, I actually prefer light sour cream to it’s chubbier older brother. However, I can pretty much say that I don’t love any fat-free versions of products like this–I would honestly rather eat my bagel plain than use fat-free cream cheese. Additionally, many times the fat-free versions contain more sugar than the original or low-fat varieties; they have to make up for that flavor somewhere! So just compare the nutritional labels and enjoy the better-tasting option in moderation.

So there’s a round-up of some of our favorite tips! What are your ideas for staying on track? And we’re not trolling for comments here–we seriously need to know, lest the mean church lady give me the evil eye again and send me home crying into my cupboards…

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28 comments

  1. Thanks for the great post. I’ve really been trying hard to eat healthier since the new year began, but the problem is I have a real sweet tooth. My new favorite snack is Quaker rice cakes. I buy the caramel corn flavor, and it’s a little bit of heaven for me. I’m able to satisfy my craving for sweets while eating a low calorie treat. I also buy little individual packs of mandarin oranges or applesauce because sometimes those will satisfy my sweet tooth as well.

  2. Your tips are really helpful. My biggest issue is that I am addicted to chocolate.

    I have had illnesses relating to sweets (such as yeast infections), so you’d think I would learn my lesson sooner or later.

    Thanks for the tips! I will do my best to take them to heart.

  3. Thanks for the great tips – I just found this amazing Almond Nut-Thins by Blue Diamond which are delicious! 16 crackers is only 160 calories!! Yum!

  4. I love pretzel thins, they are so tasty. Also when I’m hungry at night I eat a handful of raw almonds and drink a tall glass of ice water, works every time. Grapes are a counter-top staple around here, the kids always know there will be a bowl of washed grapes sitting on the counter.

  5. laugh. laugh. laugh.

    that’s my tip for a healthier life. . .
    which is why I just keep comin’ back. You are SO funny!

  6. Hi, you don’t’ know me, but I’m Carly’s sister-in-law and I LOVE following your blog. Your recipes are amazing! So thank you for sharing them 🙂 Just a side not but another substitute for mayo is Veganaise(sp) it’s a lot healthier compared to any low-fat/light mayo. It’s made with grape seed oil and lots of other healthy things (no egg stuff). It has a bit of a different texture in the jar but once you spread it on it’s all the same. And I know dried fruit’s not the best thing for you because once it’s dried all the nutrients are sucked out, but whenever I’m craving something sweet I’ll grab a handful of craisens. Anywho, just my 2 cents worth. I look forward to more yummy recipes!

  7. Hi, you don’t’ know me, but I’m Carly’s sister-in-law and I LOVE following your blog. Your recipes are amazing! So thank you for sharing them 🙂 Just a side not but another substitute for mayo is Veganaise(sp) it’s a lot healthier compared to any low-fat/light mayo. It’s made with grape seed oil and lots of other healthy things (no egg stuff). It has a bit of a different texture in the jar but once you spread it on it’s all the same. And I know dried fruit’s not the best thing for you because once it’s dried all the nutrients are sucked out, but whenever I’m craving something sweet I’ll grab a handful of craisens. Anywho, just my 2 cents worth. I look forward to more yummy recipes!

  8. Two things that I crave lately… whole wheat english muffins and light laughing cow cheese–I just bought the garlic and herb flavor and it is delicious! Try spreading some on some celery sticks…yummy!

  9. Frozen blueberries or raspberries are great by themselves. I also love triscuit crackers with cream or cheddar cheese.

    And since my nursing baby won’t let me eat chocolate right now, I’ve been making oatmeal cookies w/ nothing in them, and replacing some of the white flour with wheat flour. Extra grains and fiber, and still yummy!

  10. These are some really good tips. If I may put my two cents in…in the last month or two I’ve been eating healthier by a) cooking more and eating at home b) buying fresh and organic (if possible) food, and c) not eating fast food or buying processed food and that includes junk food like chips and cookies. I don’t even eat “healthy” alternatives at fast food restaurants like salads or grilled chicken because they usually have some type of preservative in them. I’m trying to eat food that isn’t laden with artificial additives. It is not easy finding off-the-shelf food without them, but if I buy spaghetti sauce I look for it to have tomatoes, spices, onions, peppers, and other natural ingredients and not things like artificial coloring or flavoring, gums, hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn syrup, monosodium glutamate, or a huge amount of salt.

    One big change I’ve made is buying organic peanut butter that only consists of peanuts or peanuts and salt, none of the oil or other artificial ingredients found in some of the other brands of peanut butter. Another big change I’ve made is that I bought a laptop lunchbox (or bento as some people call it) and I take my lunch to work instead of buying it. I get a lot of my ideas of what to pack in it and what to eat here.

    For a snack I like organic French vanilla yogurt with either a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg or fresh pineapple chunks or other fruit or granola, craisins or other dried fruits, organic granola bars, roasted pepper hummus or roasted garlic hummus and pita chips, or turkey slices with a little lemon pepper and garlic salt. Also, I’ll use honey as a sweetener when I can since it’s all-natural instead of sugar. I drink a lot of tea or water, no soda not even diet soda as it still has a lot of sugar in it.

    It’s not a perfect system as I still buy some things that aren’t organic or that have some artificial additives, but I definitely eat a lot healthier than I used to and I try to watch what I put in my body. Also, if I may suggest, check the ingredients and nutritional content when looking for a lighter version of a product. Buying the light version isn’t always the best alternative and sometimes it’s best to buy the original.

    Oh, and for the people addicted to chocolate I found it helpful to eat Snackwells Devils Food or Creme Sandwich cookies when I got a craving. That was a few years ago, and now I don’t eat much chocolate. Eating the Snackwells and staying away from other chocolate got my body used to not having it and now I don’t crave it as much as I used to. It was the same with fast food; the longer I didn’t eat it, the more my body didn’t miss it and I didn’t crave it or fall back on it because of its convenience. I don’t know if that’s the case with everyone else, but that’s how it is for me. Sorry the comment is so long.

  11. These are all such good ideas.

    For everyone addicted to chocolate, I LOVE Hershey’s 60 calorie sticks. They come in lots of flavors: Dark chocolate, mint chocolate, chocolate caramel, etc. They’re pretty good size sticks, but with built in portion control since one only has 60 calories. And it’s not any kind of light chocolate or chocolate flavored concoction, it’s jut plain ‘ol chocolate. I love them!

  12. Thanks for the tips! I have so enjoyed your “healthier” ideas this month. I’ve been eating turkey wraps with roasted peppers daily and they are so good!

    I use the daily plate at Livestrong.com to count my calories, then I can work in a treat every once in a while without setting myself back.

    To fulfill my carby cravings: Caramel mini rice cakes (from Aldi Fit and Active line) with just a dab of peanut butter.

    As for my chocolate cravings, if I eat a dark chocolate it is more fulfilling than milk, so I go with a small dark chocolate. That said, I don’t keep it in my house because if the package is opened, I will finish it off!

  13. These are all great tips!!

    I have found that when baking, especially breads/muffins, you can cut out some of the fat with no change in the flavor of the finished product. You can also substitute some of the white flour with freshly ground wheat flour and no one can tell the difference. I have even tried this with chocolate chip cookies and no one noticed!

  14. Great tips. My downfall is finishing off what my daughter doesn’t eat after lunch. So when all said and done, I realize I’ve probably consumed an extra 500 or calories with the left over grilled cheese, peanut butter and honey, chicken nuggets etc. Especially the fact that she likes her crust off and I decide to devour that as well. No sense letting it go to waste.:) But it’s time to turn over a new leaf. So thanks for the awesome tips!

  15. Okay, I love your blog…but when you throw in this hilarious-ness…I love it even more. Thanks for the laughs!

    I’ve been doing more whole grains, and making my own whole wheat bread. It’s really not hard, and SO worth the taste and nutrition. I love to bake, and often substitute whole wheat pastry flour for some of the white flour, and it’s still delish. Seriously, I’m picky, but whole wheat pastry flour is awesome. I even used it in the crust of my pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Shhh…don’t tell! It just makes me feel a little better about baking quick breads and cookies because it actually has fiber and nutrients! Thanks for all the good tips folks!

  16. Just a response to Aly’s comment: actually when fruit is dried all it’s missing is water. It has more concentrated sugar because there’s no water to dilute it, and it also can be easy to eat a lot because of the reduced volume, but it’s definitely still good for you and still full of nutrients.

    (All of this assumes natural, non-processed dried fruit, some loss of nutrients is inevitable the longer it is stored, if you can buy local or dry your own in a food dehydrator or slow oven, this will preserve the most nutrients.)

    That being said, I’m glad to see so many people “sneaking” in the whole grains–bravo! I’ve been grinding wheat and using that as our sole source of flour for several months now. We seldom have cookies, but we make lots of other treats like homemade bagels and pitas and even whole-wheat tortillas (which are so soft!)

  17. A couple of things I have been doing to eat healthier: as soon as I get home from grocery shopping I prepare all of my veggies~ wash, peel, cut and put into containers. I also keep a container of Ranch dressing. Then for the hour before dinner I keep them out on the counter. Everything is ready to eat, no dishes, no prep and then I snack on those while I am cooking dinner. My kids are getting better at wanting to eat more veggies too.

    This obviously won’t work for most people~ but I still have a retainer. I try to wear it in the afternoons so I don’t do any mindless snacking since I would have to take my retainer out to eat. Chewing gum would probably have the same effect.

    Thanks for all the great tips and recipes!!!

  18. 1 box of cake mix, 2 can of 15oz pumkin. that’s it. i believe it’s a ww recipe. place in cupcake cups. bake according to cake mix. they are really moist. 2 pts, or i think 100 calories. My kids love them. they freeze well too.

  19. Great tips. I cannot however abide light mayo. I know, it would be better for me. I just can’t do it.
    (that’s one of the reasons I’m fat)
    I’m trying though.

  20. It sounds gross but Tofutti tastes just like cream cheese! and along with being better for you it lasts twice as long, give it a try.

  21. I love to snack on a homemade trail mix of crasins, M&M's, and nuts (cashews, almonds, sunflower). I mix it all up in a quart size baggie and then scoop a plastic cup full of it for my afternoon snack while I read or craft during naptime. Mostly healthy, while still filling and it keeps my hands clean too while I do other things since I pretty much drink it. =)
    Fun blog. I'm reading it all….I may have some cookin' to do tomorrow!

  22. I have made this recipe at least a dozen times—can you tell I LOVE IT! I made for a vegetarian friend this week. I cut the recipe in half, only I kept the spices/green chilies the same, and used veg broth. It was fantastic!

  23. I keep Tootsie Rolls Midgees in my cookie jar for that time when my body is craving chocolate. It works pretty well becasue they are chewy which makes them last a little longer.

  24. I looove to cook, and thus I love to eat too! To avoid spending hours on the elliptical each week i’ve found a few trick. I keep hershey’s kisses in the freezer so when I NEED a little chocolate I can snag one, it takes a while for it to melt in your mouth so I get more enjoyment out of just one piece. I also freeze grapes so i’m forced to eat slower. When I am wanting a creamy salad dressing I just cut it with a little vinegar and voila, half the calories. Non-fat greek yogurt makes a great sub for sour cream for mexican dishes or dips, and it adds protein (adding a little onion powder helps trick your mind)! Softened tofu works well to replace ricotta in lasagna and ravioli!
    Finding healthy alternatives has become somewhat of a game for me! I can’t wait to have children to teach them the joys of cooking and eating well!

  25. I’m a little late to the comment party, but our nutritionist actually is against chewing gum/eating sugar-free mints (I was guilty of chewing almost a pack of gum a day!!). Supposedly, because they activate one’s salivary glands, our bodies expect some kind of nutrition to come its way. But since you’re not actually eating anything, our bodies begin to crave calories and you just end up eating more food to make up for it later.

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