The Non-Diet Strategy: Eat Right – Not Less – for Good Health
The word “diet” doesn’t usually conjure up blissful thoughts or put a big smile on our face as we anticipate calorie counting, rigid meal planning and deprivation. Many will be anxious to slim down and lose the 10 pounds on average we pack on during the holidays between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
While there are many different plans and approaches out there, dieting usually entails following a strict regimen that can be less than satisfying and often makes us feel like we’re “missing out” on some of the good, yummy things in life.
Topical BioMedics, makers of Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream, has partnered with Roufia Payman, the director of outpatient nutritional services at Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, N.Y., to share tips for embracing a healthy approach to eating – including portion control, smart snacking and a healthy recipe for seasonal soup in the winter issue of Natural Healing, Natural Wellness. (Available for free download at www.topricin.com.)
“We may lose weight, but in the long run diets often fail because once we achieve our weight loss goal, we have a tendency to fall back into our old eating pattern,” says Payman. “Inevitably, the weight creeps back on and we end up “yo-yoing” into another weight loss program, invariably followed by gains.”
This “losing proposition” simply isn’t a healthy way to approach eating, either nutritionally or emotionally. Payman notes that a healthier approach to food and weight control is a balanced “non-diet” strategy that focuses on eating right – not less.
“It’s not about deprivation or rigidity, but rather adopting the lifestyle, attitude and healthy habits that will help you achieve your goals and feel good about yourself on a daily basis,” says Payman.
Best of all, by developing and cultivating nourishing, healthy food choices, you’ll feed your heart and soul as well as your body. Payment often tells her patients, “If you love food, you want to eat food that loves you back!”
Payman remind us that, “Hot wings, French fries, and grilled cheese don’t love your heart. Soda, cookies, and bagels don’t love your waistline. Processed foods are not your friend. But a nice tossed salad, brown rice with beans, roasted vegetables and fresh salmon – now these are foods that nourish and nurture you.”
Despite the lure of nutritionally deficient foods, Payman says you can learn to love the food that loves you back.
When you embrace a new approach to eating, your palate will adapt and your food preferences will start changing. And when you cut out the sugars, fats, and simple carbohydrates, your cravings for them will diminish. She notes that it takes about a month for a behavior to become a habit and soon your healthier food choices will taste so delicious and satisfying you won’t miss your old former favorites.
Payman recommends when shopping for packaged dry, canned, or frozen goods, that shoppers be savvy to marketing speak even in seemingly “healthy” foods. The word “natural” is not regulated by the FDA and indicates nothing about a food’s nutritional value or health effects. She encourages shoppers to read labels diligently and avoid processed foods with the biggest nutritional offenders – high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil, artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors. And whenever possible, Payman urges consumers to go organic.
“The healthiest food choices you can make come from whole, unprocessed sources, not pre-packaged processed foods,” says Payman. “If you really want to love yourself, start cooking the majority of your meals. It doesn’t have to be complicated – a fast, easy recipe can taste good and be good for you, too. Once you get into the habit of cooking, it won’t feel like a chore, and processed food will taste less appealing.”
Payman offers a few tips for making a simple meal extra nutritious and filling:
- Lightly sauté fresh veggies (onion, mushroom, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, etc.) and add to spaghetti sauce and simmer, then serve on a whole grain or protein-rich pasta like Barilla Plus.
- Add diced tomatoes, shredded carrots, and pine nuts to brown rice or couscous, season with a dash of balsamic vinegar.
- Instead of mashed potatoes, have mashed cauliflower or rutabaga topped with low fat cottage cheese or plain non-fat yogurt with herbs (dill, oregano, or basil are good) or try baked or mashed sweet potato topped with nutmeg and cinnamon and chopped walnuts.
- Add cooked (or canned and rinsed) black eyed peas, black beans, or other beans to soups for protein and fiber, and a handful of greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard) for an extra nutritional punch.
SIZE THINGS UP
Payman points out that it’s not just what you eat, but also how much you eat and portion control plays an integral role in eating right for life. After all, there can be too much of a good thing.
You can learn measurements by sizing your portions for a week or two until you can judge by eye what something (say a cup of brown rice) looks like when it’s on your plate. But practicing portion control doesn’t have to involve overly complicated weights and measures. A simple way to grasp it is to think of food portions in terms of common everyday items.
Here are some basic rules of thumb for sizing things up:
- 1 tsp. butter, oil, or peanut butter = thumb tip
- 2 Tbs. peanut butter, butter, oil or salad dressing = golf ball or ping pong ball
- 1/4 cup dried fruit = golf ball or ping pong ball
- 1 cup pasta or rice = tennis ball
- 1 cup vegetables = a fist
- 8 oz. serving yogurt, one cup of beans, or dry cereal = baseball
- 3oz. serving of meat or poultry = deck of cards
- 3 oz. serving of fish = checkbook
Payman also offers some portioning tricks you can use so you won’t be tempted to overeat.
- Use smaller plates and bowls for everyday meals at home. This will make your servings look bigger and trick your eye and mind into feeling more satisfied.
- When ordering an entrée at restaurant, ask your server to bring you a box to pack up a portion to take home before you start eating.
- Items that are sold in bulk or in larger containers – like tubs of yogurt and snacks like trail mix – are often less expensive than the smaller/individual serving size. It’s easy to portion control if you put them in single serving storage containers or bags when you get home.
STAY ON TRACK WITH SMART SNACKS
Payman notes that healthy eating habits include smart snacking. By eating at regular intervals, your blood sugar levels (and therefore your energy) remain stable and you won’t be tempted to overeat at mealtime. Keep in mind snacking doesn’t replace a meal and should be spread between regular meals by an hour or two.
Snacking comes in handy if you know you’ll be in a situation where you’ll be surrounded by temptations you would like to avoid, or will be in a position to overeat. For instance, if you plan on going out to a meal at a restaurant or a party, have a healthy snack before leaving the house so you’ll be less likely to finish a large entre or pick mindlessly at the party platters.
Remember to keep the “smart” in snacking. Keep it to 100 – 150 calories, and skip the salty chips and sugary cookies that come in prepackaged snack sizes. Instead, stock up on more nourishing treats: nuts, apples and pears with peanut butter or sprinkled with cinnamon, raw vegetables with low-fat cheese or hummus, and plain low-fat yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit are all good choices.
And if you feel like cheese and crackers, exercise portion control by doling out the proper serving size, arranging it on a plate, and putting the rest away.
It’s fun to keep up to date with new ideas and Payman points out that there are a number of magazines and online outlets that feature healthy recipes.
Most importantly, Payman says it is important to have fun and to love yourself, love the food that loves you and have fun mixing it up with fresh ideas for staying deliciously healthy and happy.
ROUFIA’S RECIPE CORNER: SEASONAL SOUP
Payman offers a recipe for one of her own personal favorites: an easy and versatile seasonal soup recipe that’s fun to experiment with. She recommends cooking on Sunday so you’ll have a healthy basic dish that your family can enjoy during the busy week.
Mix and match ingredients for a delicious, nutritious soup and be creative and add your own touches. It will taste different every time and keep you coming back for more.
- Soak beans the night before (any you like, or combination of different beans) OR lentils soaked for an hour until soft; drain and rinse.
- onion, chopped
- celery, finely diced
- garlic, chopped
- carrots, diced
- Sauté in olive oil or grape seed oil with turmeric then add to the pot
- fresh diced tomatoes or no-added salt canned diced tomatoes (optional)
- organic veggie broth or water and any combination of fresh herbs of your choice
- drain beans/lentils, rinsed
- Season with cumin, coriander seed, and sea salt (omit salt if you have dietary restriction)
- Simmer on low/medium heat for 2-1/2 hours or longer
- Add juice of one-half lime
- Serve chunky or puree
- Remember, legumes are full of protein and fiber – two appetite crushers – so this soup will be very filling and satisfying.
- Sauté finely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil with turmeric
- Drizzle soup with plain Greek yogurt, top with sautéed onion and garlic
- sauté leeks along with onion, garlic, and celery
- instead of beans create the soup with roasted pumpkin, butternut squash, or mixed roasted vegetables and shorten cooking time.
- add spinach toward the end, just to wilt
Have fun experimenting with your own versions of soup – perfect for the cool, dark nights this time of year.
Roufia Payman is a contributing columnist to Natural Healing, Natural Wellness, a newsletter published by Topical BioMedics featuring insights from experts in various health fields. The newsletter is available free at www.topricin.com. Sign up to receive updates when a new issue of the newsletter is published as well as other news and information.
Topricin is available in pharmacies, natural food stores and other fine retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, Fred Meyer, Wegmans, and other retail stores throughout the U.S., as well as direct from the Topical BioMedics’ online store.
To learn more about Topricin, go to http://www.topricin.com.