Six Food Prep Makeovers That Will Help You Lose Weight

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro

    Weight loss is often a matter of doing the little things right.


    In many ways it's similar to the common saying, "Look after the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves," when it comes to saving money. The point is, making small changes in the way you organize your meals can add up to significant weight loss, over time. 


    Even better, small changes are more easily implemented and sustained, since you don't need to shock your system into a massive overnight change.


    Here are some things you can do to reorganize the way you eat, which will help reduce your daily calorie intake. 

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    1. Eat a Good Breakfast

    Studies show that people who eat a full breakfast tend to eat less as the day progresses than people who skip breakfast.


    Eating a full breakfast can also help to reduce your cravings for unhealthy foods by keeping your hunger at bay. This is because when you skip breakfast you are much more likely to crave a sugary, or high fat food in the middle of the day. 


    Good choices to start the day are eggs, oatmeal, natural yogurt, nuts and seeds, or perhaps a green smoothies, if you are eating on the run.



    2. Pre-Portion Snack Foods

    When you buy bags of popcorn, nuts or other "finger food," divide the package into smaller portions and place them in small zip-lock bags for future use.


    The reason for this is that most people eat whatever portion of food is set in front of them. So, if you have smaller portions set aside, you're likely to eat fewer calories. 


    3. Experiment With Flavors

    A simple, healthy ways to make your meals tasty is to use different spices, herbs and citrus fruits, which can add a nice twist to an otherwise plain dinner.


    4. Use Healthy Fats 

    Butter, lard, or shortening are often used in baking or cooking, but as you know, they are very high in unhealthy saturated fats.


    A better choice would be extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil for salad dressings, and rice bran, sesame oil, or sunflower oil for cooking. Don't forget, there are lots of recipes which use oil for baking rather than butter or margarine, so look out for these, too.


    5. Choose High Fiber

    High-fiber diets are important for the prevention of disease, including heart disease. Fiber is also very helpful when you are trying to loss weight, since it helps you to feel fuller for longer, so you snack less throughout the day.



    Foods such as fruits (especially with skins), vegetables, wholegrains and legumes are high in fiber, and should make up a high percentage of your diet. Current recommendations suggest the average adult needs between 20 to 35g of dietary fiber per day. 



    Go for foods like brown rice, wholegrain bread, wholemeal pasta, and wholegrain crackers. Also, take care with your portion size, a serving of rice or pasta is relatively small, being only 1/2 cup cooked.



    6. Order Small When Eating Out

    Restaurant portion sizes have increased dramatically over the past 30-40 years. What used to be a large portion of food is often the smallest size available these days. This fact alone is a very significant contributor to the obesity epidemic in western countries today.


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    So, if you have to eat away from home, go for the smallest size available, and add a large salad or extra vegetables to help fill you up, without adding too many calories.



    While these prep makeovers are small, they can help you make measurable reductions, not only the amount of calories you consume, but they will also boost the amount of nutrients you are getting from your food.


    Small changes like these add up to significant weight loss over time.


    And, they are easy to incorporate into your lifestyle, which means it's less difficult to maintain long-term.




    Melanie Thomassian is a registered dietitian, and author of If you need help implementing a healthier lifestyle, check out her new guide, The Healthy Eating Handbook.


Published On: January 17, 2011