Restaurant meals tend to be higher in calories, saturated fat, and sodium than homemade meals, and lower in calcium, fiber, and other weight-friendly nutrients. If you’re trying to drop pounds and be healthy, your best bet is to choose foods from the restaurants and brands that emphasize fresh, whole ingredients and prepackaged portions, like Chipotle, Jamba Juice, KIND, Lean Cuisine, and Weight Watchers. In a February 2015 New York Times article, a group of reporters gathered 3000 meal orders from Chipotle—which proudly proclaims on its website, “We’re all about simple, fresh food without artificial flavors or fillers”—and calculated the calories, saturated fat, and sodium in them. KIND, another brand that touts itself as “healthy and tasty,” was recently taken to task by the FDA, which found that several of its products did not meet the requirements to use the claims “good source of fiber,” “no trans fats,” “low sodium”, “+ antioxidants,” and “+ protein,” among others.
Bottom line: Every restaurant and every brand has some dishes and products that are healthier than others.
But of course, when you suddenly stop eating an entire food group, you are automatically cutting calories and your body reacts accordingly.
It thinks you’re starving and responds by slowing your metabolism and hanging on to every calorie it can. The same is true for low-fat diets, low-salt diets, and pretty much any other diet that forbids specific foods.
The only way to finally, truly lose the weight and keep it off for good is to stop feeling bad about your weight and your body. If you love and respect your body, it will not feel like a chore to research restaurant entrees before you go out to eat or to read nutrition labels in the grocery store or to cook for yourself and your family. Reader’s Digest’s Editor in Chief Liz Vaccariello calls her latest book, Stop Drop Diet, her easiest plan ever.
One of the main factors, they reported, were elements of the eating environment—socializing with friends and family, watching television, or working on a computer or phone—that diverted their attention away from what they were eating.
What is: We are eating out more and more often—over a 40-year period from 1970 to 2010, we nearly doubled the percentage of calories we get from food away from home. I’m not saying you should never eat out—far from it—but one of the kindest things we could do for our waists and our overall health would be to eat out less often. In its defense, KIND noted on its blog, “Nuts, key ingredients in many of our snacks and one of the things that make fans love our bars, contain nutritious fats that exceed the amount allowed under the FDA’s standard.” Having delved into the research on healthy fats for my first book, Flat Belly Diet!, I agree with KIND on this one.
In order to get the full story about any given food, you need to look beyond the brand and beyond the health claims spouted in advertisements and printed on the front of the box.
If you are burning an extra 200 to 300 calories per day, that’s 200 to 300 calories less you have to carve out from your diet to get the same calorie deficit.
According to the National Weight Control Registry, established in 1994 to identify and investigate the characteristics of people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off for more than a year, 94 percent increased their physical activity in order to lose weight, with the most frequently reported form of exercise being walking. No matter what you weigh, if you don’t love your body, you will never truly win the weight loss battle.
Instead, it will be a privilege to take care of yourself by making smart, healthy food choices. One study showed that people who reported feeling alive and energetic were more motivated and more successful at maintaining their weight loss. The book and online course teach you how to stop eating unhealthy versions of the foods you love so you can drop up to five pounds in the first five days—and keep losing. Even if I wasn’t especially hungry then, you can be sure I ate—and I cleaned my plate, because that’s what we did in our house. I’ll linger over coffee (or go for a run), then find it’s 11, sometimes 12 o’clock before I’m hungry enough to want to eat. If you’re in the habit of always grabbing a bagel on the way in to work, stock up instead on Nature’s Own Plain Thin- Sliced Bagels. That said, many KIND bars are higher in calories or fat than, for instance, a Quaker or Nature Valley or Kashi bar.
To your body, your extra fat is a necessary hedge against the day that there’s no food to be had.
But most people find that they’re hard to sustain over time because they often require a lot of cooking or buying specialty food items. Plus, exercise generates natural endorphins, so you feel better and have more energy even if you are a little hungry. If you feel guilty about your eating habits and ashamed of your body, you will always feel deprived. You’ll get a mix-and-match 21-day meal plan designed for weight loss and balanced nutrition, plus hundreds of easy weight loss tips and tricks via videos, quizzes, slideshows, and other interactive tools. Or I’ll have a healthy breakfast, then get caught up in my day and have what I call an “afternoon dinner” at 3 or 4.
A study of fast-food eaters in Philadelphia and Baltimore found that they underestimated their meal by up to 400 calories! But picking healthy foods is not as simple as finding a “healthy” brand and sticking to it.
The same article highlights several Chipotle meals that clock in at around 545 calories, including crispy steak tacos, a veggie bowl, and a carnitas burrito, and it’s possible to get even lower by changing the fillings and toppings you choose.
We humans evolved during a time when there were no grocery stores or restaurants or even farms. A study of eight years of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed that people who skip breakfast tend to be heavier and have a larger waist than those who eat a healthy breakfast. While you may lose weight initially on the diet, you will soon slide back to your old food choices and gain it all back again.
How did our ancestors survive when there was a drought that killed off the leaves and berries they foraged?
So many popular diets today recommend cutting out or drastically cutting down on carbohydrates that there must be something to the low-carb thing, right?
Tell me I can’t have something or restrict the amount I can eat, and suddenly it’s the only thing I want.
In fact, it’s best to make sure you eat regularly to keep from getting so ravenous that you lose control and can’t stop eating. Ask me how it tasted and I might not be able to tell you, because I was preoccupied by my work.
And when you do eat out, look for entrees that are grilled or baked, not fried or smothered in sauce, and for side dishes that pile on the veggies (again, you’re looking for steamed, sauteed, or otherwise simply prepared vegetables). Well, it’s true that, on average, Americans eat more carbs than we really need, especially refined carbohydrates like those in white bread, pasta, cakes, and cookies.
Next thing you know, you’re craving those forbidden foods like nobody’s business, and you feel like you’d mow down your own mother to get to a piece of bread. But if you’re in the habit of eating when the clock says to, instead of when you’re actually hungry—which researchers at the University of Minnesota found is one of the main reasons people eat when they do—you tend to lose touch with what “hungry” feels like and eat more than you really need. Among our top sources of calories, in fact, are cakes and cookies, breads, pizza, pasta, and sugary drinks. Which is why, when you suddenly slash the amount of food you’re eating, your body reacts by hanging on to every bit of fat it can. So if you cut back on these foods, you will automatically slash your calorie consumption and lose weight. And, because excess consumption of refined carbs has been associated with diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other chronic diseases, you’ll be healthier if you eat fewer of them.
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