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"Nutrition Help"
-Self Magazine
date posted: August 25, 2009

Nutrition Help from Self Magazine

Self Magazine’s suggested nutrition plan:

Eat more often -- healthy meals plus snacks. (What`s not to like?) Every day brings you closer to a nutritious, satisfying diet! Part and parcel of the fat-vaporizing, muscle-toning Challenge is learning how to fuel your body as you tone it. To help fine-tune your eating habits, this month the Challenge dishes up a practical, anyone-can-do-it approach to eating healthier and (if it`s a goal for you) losing weight.

Week 1: Mind your meals

The number-one habit that keeps you from eating healthfully? Under eating! You can`t fool your body; it will crave more calories eventually—probably in the form of late-night ice cream! Three square meals and a snack or two (1,570 to 1,770 calories total) are more effective than grazing for energy and weight control.

Keep a food record for four consecutive days, including a weekend. In a notebook, write these headings:

* Time - How long you go between meals shows your likelihood to eat—or overeat—during the day.

* Place - Are you at work? At home? At a party? Some locations may trigger eating.

* Hunger level - Assess before you bite: 1 is not at all hungry; 2, a little hungry; 3, medium hungry; 4, very hungry; and 5, ravenous.

* Amount I ate/drank - Write down everything you consume for each day. Be specific: Measure amounts. (In a pinch, use your hand to guesstimate. Your palm is about the size of 4 ounces of protein; your fist is roughly 1/2 cup of vegetables, rice or pasta.)

* How I feel - Record your mood when you eat: relaxed, stressed, angry, guilty, bored, etc.

What kind of eater are you? Next, analyze your record.

Are you eating three meals daily? What`s your daily calorie total? Do you go more than four hours between meals or snacks? If so, that`s too long. Are you eating "real" meals (a protein; a starch such as pasta or bread; a fat; a fruit or vegetable)? What`s often missing? Do you have trigger foods—ones that make you eat too much? How hungry are you? You should be at level 3, so you don`t overeat. Do emotions trigger eating? (One sign is lots of 1s on your record.) Now that you`re aware of how you eat, try the following meal plan. Even if you`re at three squares already, it will help you adjust the portions and content of your meals and snacks for weight loss or added energy.

Week 2: Wake up to breakfast each day

This week you`ll focus on upping the health value of your morning meal (or eating one in the first place). When you skip breakfast, your metabolism doesn`t get the kick-start it needs to hum along all day. You`ll fight a losing battle against low blood sugar as the hours pass. A wake-up meal will keep you alert and energetic. And did we mention that breakfast eaters are more likely to be slim?

Week 3: Let`s power lunch!

Busy schedules make it easy to forgo lunch, but doing so leads to increases in appetite and cravings, not to mention grumpiness and major brain drain. Commit to eating a midday meal all this week. These lunch ideas top out at 440 calories and ensure an even distribution of nutrients—not to mention energy—all day long.

Week 4: Discover dinner

Dinner can be a pitfall: You`ve had a stressful day and you want to reward yourself with fatty, starchy comfort food. Or you`re home late after work and you`re so hungry, you`ll grab any old thing. Two words for you: Plan ahead. Buy and freeze whole-grain tortillas, pitas and bread; stock up on frozen veggies to toss into rice or pasta. Pick up enough fruit for the whole week. If it gets old, toss it into a smoothie for dessert or breakfast. Purchase precut vegetables or shop the salad bar. Cook on the nights you have more time and reheat on busier nights. And if all else fails, nuke a frozen entrée! Each evening, enjoy a healthy meal of about 515 calories.

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