I generally have good intentions of eating well during the holidays and sometimes it works for me. This year, however, neither Jack nor I followed a healthy holiday diet. I can “blame” it on the fact that we had company. My mom and my oldest son, David, were both here. The truth of the matter is that having company was a good excuse to have sweets, chips & dip, and other snacks around. Also, we went out to eat quite a bit and that’s always a good reason to stray from our healthier lifestyle.
Now that the holidays are over and our company is gone, it’s time to get back to choosing better options for meals and snacks. When growing up, and until recently, I always thought that fruits and vegetables were a great choice for something to snack on. Bananas in particularly were one of my favorite snacks and I had always heard that they were high in potassium, which I am generally lacking in, so I would have one or two a day. I also ate a lot of apples. My generation was told that they were better than processed foods, and they are. The problem is that many of them are packed full of calories and carbs, neither of which are good for me or that I need to over indulge in.
Since I now pay more attention to carbs (I use net carbs…to determine, subtract the amount of fiber from the total carbs), I have cut back drastically on some of the fruits and vegetables that I love and have found others that are just as tasty while being healthier for me and Jack. I am more selective about how often I eat foods that are high carb or calorie and basically reserve them for times that we go out to eat or have guests for dinner. I have an apple almost every day, but only have bananas every 2-3 days. I used to make hash browns with eggs for our breakfast. Now I only have hash browns if we go out to eat breakfast and rarely have potatoes with other meals at home. Instead of orange juice (112 calories and 25 net grams carbs) or apple juice (140 calories and 29 net grams carbs) I have V-8 juice or the plain label version (about 53 calories and 8.5 net grams carbs). Carrot sticks are delicious, but 100 grams equal 41 calories and 6.8 net grams carbs. Substituting 100 grams of zucchini sticks brings the calories down to 17 and the net carbs to 2.1 grams. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but we generally have more than one serving and it does add up.
One last point about watching your calories and carbs is that serving size is the key to eating healthy. What I used to consider a normal size serving was probably (in many cases) about two recommended servings. I discovered this when I purchased an old-fashioned food scale from Amazon. They have a lot to choose from and the one I got was inexpensive, but makes it extremely easy to accurately measure the weight of the food that you’re going to consume. After a few times of using it, you’ll be able to fairly easily guess about the right amount for serving sizes.
It’s amazing how a few changes can make such a difference. Substituting one food for another and watching the portion size of what you eat will help you cut calories and carbs. You’ll lose weight, be healthier and will feel better.
For more information on fruit and vegetables calories and carbs, check out these charts from the FDA: