Hi there, it’s Lacey! I’m the editor and main writer for A Sweet Pea Chef. I'm a food blogger, photographer, videographer, clean eating expert, and mommy of four. I also run the awesome free Take Back Your Health Community, am the healthy and clean weekly meal planner behind No-Fail Meals, and a little bit in love with Clean Eating. Be sure to check out my free beginner’s guide to eating clean and follow me on YouTube and Instagram to get my latest recipes and healthy eating inspiration.
Mindful eating is vital for a healthy diet, according to McKenzie Flinchum, RD, LD/N, CPT, Founder of The Flexible Dietitian LLC. “We tend to eat for many other reasons besides hunger, including boredom, celebrations, food cravings, etc.,” Flinchum says. “When a person sits down while eating, he or she is more conscious and is better able to pay attention to the whole process.” That said, eliminating other distractions while eating is beneficial too since a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that distracted eating may add to weight gain.
It might seem like swapping regular products for “sugar-free,” “fat-free,” or “diet foods” is an easy fix. But they could do more harm than good. In fact, artificial sweeteners they could even cause weight gain, according to research published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. As for fat-free foods, choosing the full-fat option will keep you fuller longer, according to Pashko. Steering clear of ravenous hunger will ensure you don’t overeat later.
Other factors that can influence your decision include the program’s overall cost and your budget, whether you prefer pre-packaged options or the flexibility to eat out and cook your own meals, and finally, the degree of community interaction. Multiple studies have found that weight loss and diet control are most successful when there’s a degree of accountability and peer support. Most diet plan programs have a wide range of interactive, community-building features that can also help you gage customer satisfaction with the diet plan.
The idea of this meal plan is for you to focus on enjoying your food and having meals prepped for you that you know are well-balanced so you don’t have to worry about counting calories. I find calorie counting to be tedious and I get overly obsessive so I like to choose meals that are naturally healthy and nutritious to add into my meal preps like the recipes I’ve chosen for you today.
Like protein, fiber slows the rate at which your body plows through carb calories so you feel full for longer and maintain steadier blood sugar levels, one reason why research consistently links fiber intake to weight loss. That means fibrous whole grain bread tends to be a better choice than white bread and also explains why fruits, which contain fiber and valuable vitamins in addition to sugar, beat straight-up candy every time.
Fresh salads with fruits and vegetables are a great way to pack a nutritious punch. But using a high-calorie dressing with lots of fat, salt, and sugar could be adding unnecessary calories. Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says pre-made dressings are one of the worst offenders. Instead, ask for salad on the side when eating out or use fresh lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil for a lighter option. Here are other salad mistakes that could cause weight gain.
Open up a big bag of baby carrots and dip them into your freshly made no-oil-added, no-salt-added hummus. Simply whip up in your food processor a can of no-salt-added chickpeas/garbanzo beans, fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic, a jalapeno pepper (if you like your hummus hot and spicy), and fresh herbs like cilantro and dill. Add a little water, if necessary, until the desired consistency is achieved.
Meal prep, short for meal preparation, is the process of planning and preparing your meals ahead of time. You can meal prep one day ahead, or take one day to prepare lunch and/or dinner for an entire week. While most meal prep only one or two meals, you can easily meal prep breakfast, lunch and dinner, even snacks for the week ahead. It’s entirely up to you!
To stay motivated and deal with cravings, Juge has a couple of great recommendations. First, schedule a cheat meal on every seventh day. "Many of my clients have their cheat meal on Sunday, so then they're ready for Monday and the week to come," he says. If you feel deprived during the week, concentrate on the cheat meal to come, knowing you can eat absolutely anything you want to—pizza, lasagna, doughnuts, beer, chips, you name it. Remember, though, it's just one cheat meal, not an entire day of cheating. Afterward, get right back on the wagon with your next scheduled meal.
Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a baking sheet and 1 (3-ounce) chicken breast with cooking spray; bake 30 minutes or until done. Chop 1 small potato into 1-inch cubes; toss with 2 cups broccoli spears, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast 30 minutes. Mix vegetables with 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar; serve with chicken.
Sprinkle cheese on each tortilla. Cover cheese with the shredded cooked chicken and top the chicken with the marinated onions. Fold the tortillas in half, press gently with a spatula to flatten, and cook for about 2 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt. Flip the quesadilla and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the second side is golden brown. Serve with side mixed green salad and 1 tbsp. light dressing
The degree to which exercise aids weight loss is open to debate, but the benefits go way beyond burning calories. Exercise can increase your metabolism and improve your outlook—and it’s something you can benefit from right now. Go for a walk, stretch, move around and you’ll have more energy and motivation to tackle the other steps in your weight-loss program.
This vegan side dish is traditionally served at room temperature with grilled meat or fish, but feel free to double your portion and eat it as a vegan entree with crusty bread for dipping in that garlicky, flavor-packed olive oil. The name for this combination of roasted vegetables comes from the Catalan escalivar, meaning to cook in ashes, though most folks these days use an oven or grill to put some char on their veggies.
Topping foods with heavy sauces or condiments could add extra calories and often little nutritional value. For example, ketchup often has a high amount of sugar. According to Monica Auslander, a registered dietitian and founder of Essence Nutrition, one teaspoon of ketchup is equal to eating a sugar packet. “It’s deceiving because it has no fat, so people think they can enjoy freely,” she says. “Unfortunately, we now know that sugar is far more insidious than fat.” Fortunately, there are healthier lower-calorie options such as pesto, hummus, and DIY recipes. These are the condiments that are bad for your health.
A calorie isn’t always a calorie. Eating 100 calories of high fructose corn syrup, for example, can have a different effect on your body than eating 100 calories of broccoli. The trick for sustained weight loss is to ditch the foods that are packed with calories but don’t make you feel full (like candy) and replace them with foods that fill you up without being loaded with calories (like vegetables).
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Have Protein at Every Meal and Snack. Adding a source of lean or low-fat protein to each meal and snack will help keep you feeling full longer so you're less likely to overeat. Try low-fat yogurt, small portion of nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans, or lean meats. Experts also recommend eating small, frequent meals and snacks (every 3-4 hours), to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to avoid overindulging.
What worked for me where I’ve failed in the past. Planning planning and planning. Getting the snacks and protein portions done for the week (salmon, chicken, quinoa and turkey freeze brilliantly) allowing yourself to eat the snacks. Kale freezes brilliantly and is great in the smoothie. Berries are in season in Australia at the moment, bulk buy them,wash them and freeze them. I love quinoa, who knew. And after doing a lot of research, as I’m celiac, I tried the overnight oats with no side effects. And finally I’ve kept a journal that I write in every day, I’ve alwasy been an emotional eater, and this has helped track what’s happened during the day, and how I handled it without turning to food.