Small Changes Can Add Up To Big Health Gains

2018 is a new year, and could mean a new you if you have set new goals for yourself. Weight loss goals are on many of our lists – at least in January! You do not have to train for a marathon to lose weight. There are several very small, daily changes you can make that will pay off over the year.

Stay Quenched. Being fully hydrated helps your body flush out the natural byproducts of metabolism. If your body cannot eliminate these toxins, it may have no other choice but to store them in fat. In addition, most people have a difficult time distinguishing thirst from hunger. So it is common to grab a snack instead of a glass of water. Next time you feel hungry, try drinking a glass of water first and see if the urge to eat passes. This is also true at mealtime. Drinking a glass of water before your meal will very likely result in being satisfied with smaller portions. It is often recommended that we drink half our body weight in ounces each day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, then you should drink 75 ounces of water daily. If you don't like the taste of water, try filtering it or squeeze a slice of lemon or chopped fresh fruit into it.

Spice Things Up. Some sources state that peppers containing a significant amount of capsaicin, a chemical that is found mostly in the white membrane that holds the seeds in place, can help some lose weight. Although the jury may still be out on this, one thing can be said about adding hot peppers to your diet: If you are feeling a little blue that you have to cut back on the calories, adding a little spice to dishes can increase the flavor and overall satisfaction of your meal, reducing the feeling that you are depriving yourself. This Jalapeño Mango Salsa is an amazing accompaniment to grilled meat. Speaking of spices, Tastefully Simple's seasoning blends are full of flavor and free of artificial ingredients or fillers. My "go-to" seasoning anytime I want to add a little zest is Simply Salsa™ Mix.

Cut the Carbs. Many doctors agree that reducing the overall amount of carbohydrates in your diet can reduce the fat that accumulates around your internal organs and lessen the odds of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Replacing potatoes and bread with a second serving of vegetables at dinnertime is a very simple change that can have long-term benefits. Tastefully Simple has many easy-to-prepare vegetable side dishes. I love sautéed green beans like this recipe. Try mixing it up by substituting different Tastefully Simple seasonings like Rustic Herb.

Pare Down Portions. Oversized meal portions are one of the most common causes of weight gain. There are several simple things you can do to limit your servings.
  • As mentioned earlier, drink a glass of water before your meal to ensure that you are hydrated and help fill your stomach.
  • Limit meat or other protein to the size of a bar of soap. Some say your body has difficulty digesting more than that during the same meal anyway. Also keep in mind that in most cases, when eating a side dish, a serving size is only a half cup.
  • Fill at least one half of your plate with salad or raw veggies, which are generally low in calories and high in fiber and contribute to feeling full. Dip your fork in salad dressing before spearing the salad instead of pouring the dressing directly on the salad. You will still taste the flavor of the dressing while limiting the calories.
  • If you are eating out, ask for a to-go box at the beginning of the meal and transfer half (or more!) of the dish into the to-go container so you are less tempted to overeat. Or consider splitting your entrée with a friend.
  • Using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate will make smaller portions look larger in comparison.
  • Wait 20 minutes before eating seconds. It takes a few minutes for the message that you are full to travel from your stomach to your brain.
Pick Up on Proteins. Lean protein choices like eggs or egg whites are a great choice for breakfast. Protein takes longer to break down so can help you feel fuller. This could mean you will be more likely to make wiser food choices throughout the rest of the day. Try this pesto egg wrap recipe or Corn, Black Bean Salsa scrambled eggs for your next breakfast. Other lean protein choices include ground turkey, Canadian bacon, black beans, oatmeal and low-fat yogurt. Try this Stuffed Pepper recipe with ground turkey instead of ground beef for a healthier alternative.

Eat In. Assuming you are not cooking up batches of fried chicken and French fries, eating at home allows you to control the quality, portion size and fat content of your meal. Some studies have shown that families that eat at home are generally healthier than families that eat out several times a week. Incorporating at least one vegetarian meal or Meatless Monday per week has additional health benefits. Tastefully Simple has many menu choices and a 10-Meal Kit like Fix It Fast will give you the basic ingredients to get started. Choosing meal kits from Tastefully Simple provides the flexibility to choose the quality of your fresh ingredients like protein and vegetables.

Try incorporating some of these tips for a healthier you in 2018. As an added bonus, you may find that over time, preparing more healthy meals at home, providing fresh fruit and cut-up veggies as snacks instead of chips and cookies and encouraging greater water consumption instead of sugary beverages will reduce your family's craving for junk food and lead to a healthier family, too.

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