Spring Diet Makeover
Are you ready to shed those bulky winter clothes? Follow these four diet makeover tips for a healthier, fitter springtime you
It's not unusual to let your attention to healthy eating lapse a bit in the
winter. After all, who can see you in those cozy -- and bulky -- woolen
sweaters? But spring is here, and it's time to get back out there and show the
world what you're made of. Just making a few small changes in your everyday
diet can add up to big changes in a healthier, fitter you. Here are four easy
tips to get you started.
1. Vegging Out. "Volume is where it's at," says
Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LD, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital Wellness
Institute in Chicago. That means filling up on foods that give you the most
bang -- or in nutrition-speak, satiety -- for the least amount of calories.
In a recent study, Penn State scientists led by Barbara Rolls, PhD, reported
that eating a large low-calorie salad as a first course may help lower the
amount of calories eaten in the rest of the meal. Researchers found that when
individuals ate 3 cups of low-calorie salad before lunch, they ate less at the
entire meal -- taking in 12% fewer calories -- than when they did not eat a
first-course salad. The low-calorie salads included iceberg and romaine
lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, celery, and cucumbers, fat-free dressing, and light
mozzarella cheese. According to the study results, big portions make you feel
as if you've eaten a lot, even if you're eating a low-calorie item.
2. Get Hot. First thing in the morning, that is. Hot cooked
cereal like oatmeal has about one-fifth the calorie density of dried cereal,
says Jay Kenney, PhD, RD, weight-control expert at the Pritikin Longevity
Center and Spa in Aventura, Fla. Hot cereal has just 300 calories per pound;
dried cereals pack in a whopping 1,400 to 2,000 calories per pound. "Hot
cereal is more filling," Kenney says. "It keeps you fueled well into
late morning, helping you avoid the 10 a.m. munchies."
Eating a high-fiber breakfast can also help stave off diabetes, heart
disease, and certain cancers, says Victoria Shanta Retelny, pointing out that
even though the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three
servings of whole-grain foods daily, USDA surveys show that fewer than 1 in 10
people consume the recommended amount of whole grains.
3. Think Green. When it comes to beverages, green tea is a
healthier choice than soda, says Molly Kimball, RD, sports and lifestyle
nutritionist at the Ochsner Clinic's Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans. One
can of regular soda has about 140 calories, says Kimball, which translates into
9 teaspoons of sugar. Green tea, on the other hand, has 0 calories (if you skip
the pre-sweetened variety).
Study findings reported in the January 2005 issue of the American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition report that substances known as catechins, which are found
in green tea, may stimulate the body to burn calories, in turn decreasing body
fat. These same catechins are also rich in anti-inflammatory and anticancer
properties, giving green tea even more of a punch. An added bonus: Green tea
can be as satisfying as a frosty cold soda. Look for different varieties; pear
green tea, for example, served iced, will make a tasty and refreshing drink in
the hot months to come.