My granddaughter and I broke into spontaneous dance at the boardwalk this weekend. Spontaneity allows us to live life to the fullest and is great fun for many activities. But eating isn't one of the activities in which we should be spontaneous. Without a plan, I could have fallen prey to the siren call of the extremely unhealthy food stands spread along the boardwalk.
Weight-loss experts recommend planning your meals and snacks to make sure they fit into a well-balanced diet plan. Otherwise when hunger strikes you are inclined to fill your mouth with whatever food is close at hand.
For my outing with my granddaughter, I brought along a healthy lunch. For dinner, we went to a little bodega and purchased some cheeses, fresh fruit, almonds, yogurt, and spring water. We carried this back to the boardwalk and ate on a bench overlooking the beautiful Monterrey Bay. My planned indulgence for the day was a frozen chocolate covered banana. Proper planning made it easy for me to avoid the boardwalk junk food that I would have binged on in the past.
Another strategy is to keep non-perishable foods in the glove box of your car. Turkey jerky, protein bars, almonds, canned smoked fish and pouches of tuna are all shelf-stable proteins that can stave off hunger pangs for about an hour. This will keep you from pulling into the nearest drive-thru. Just make sure this is your emergency-only stash and do not snack on it each time you are in the car.
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Use a food planner
Keeping a journal to plan what you will eat can double your weight loss, according to one of the largest and longest-running studies of weight loss maintenance. A written record makes you more accountable, so you think twice before you put something in your mouth that was not planned.
Fitday.com is a free easy-to-use online food log. Use it to plan meals and track calories, carbs, fat, protein, and nutrition. Fitday Mobile is an inexpensive mobile app that allows you to track foods after you eat them. This will make you aware of how much you're truly consuming and lets you identify eating patterns that need tightening up. Fitday Dietician enables you to message online with a Registered Dietitian and create a custom health and fitness plan.
MyFitnessPal is a free website with online community and mobile apps that makes food tracking and calorie counting easy.
Eat your vegetables
When planning your meals be sure to include plenty of fresh non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy veggies are comparatively low in calories, packed with fiber and nutrition, and help you feel full so you eat less overall. Mayo Clinic Online has a list of non-starchy vegetables. Easy on the fixings, though: Frying, sautéing, or adding most sauces, dips, and toppings amps up calories.
Mayo Clinic List of Non-Starchy Vegetables