Welcome to the Biggest Loser - Turlock's 12 Week Weight Loss Challenge.

Biggest Loser Turlock begins a new 12-Week Individuals Challenge on January 7, 2014! You’re making a commitment to lose weight, and we’re looking forward to supporting you along the way. Check in on our blog often for weekly results, mini - challenges, and tips to help you stay on track and lead a healthy lifestyle!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What to Do After a Binge

How to Prevent a Binge and Regain Control

We’ve all heard the lunch room chatter about people's latest diets and weight-loss escapades. Maybe you’ve even led the discussion by saying something like,"I am going to be ‘good’ today and only eat salads and fresh fruit and avoid the sugar and junky stuff." Or maybe the conversation went more like, "I ate so bad this weekend! Now I have to go to the gym for two hours after work to burn it all off." Sound familiar?

As a dietitian, I often get asked "What do you think about the [fill-in-the-blank] diet?" My response is almost always the same: Diets do not teach healthy lifestyle changes that can be maintained over many years.

Unlike small and sustainable changes you can live with, diets are usually restrictive in nature and short-lived. While some people do find success on a variety of fad diet plans, most of the initial weight loss is simply water weight that comes right back once the diet is over or once you’ve cheated or given up on the eating plan that you simply couldn't take anymore.

Unfortunately, many people will not only gain back every pound they worked so hard to lose on a short-lived diet, but they can actually gain even more than they lost. Many times, dieting can lead to out-of-control binge eating episodes in which the dieter gets so fed up with restricting herself that she overindulges in every "sinful" treat she had been avoiding. However, these binges can also be on "healthy" or diet-approved foods, too.

If you're reading this article, chances are that you've experienced binge eating and may be wondering things like:
  • Is it ever OK to binge? Is the occasional binge normal?
  • Is it better to eat "right" Monday through Friday and then to throw caution to the wind on the weekends or plan for one cheat day per week?
  • Will I ever find a happy balance between eating the foods I crave and maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
  • I’ve heard of "intuitive eating," but what exactly does that mean and how do I apply it to my daily eating habits? 
Let's explore some of these thoughts a little further.

Instead of defining "normal" eating here, this article will focus on how to prevent binges and get back on track after them. To read more about whether your eating habits are "normal" check out this three-part series on the topic by SparkPeople's behavioral psychology expert, Coach Dean.

What is binge eating?
Bingeing is an uncontrolled ingestion of large quantities of food within a short time period, often accompanied by feeling out of control over the eating taking place. 

We have all overeaten at one time or another, most notably around the holidays or on a special occasion. I think we have all gone back for seconds (or thirds) on Thanksgiving, or had an extra slice or two of cake at a birthday party. So when does the occasional overindulgence cross the line into the realm of real binge eating?

That isn't always easy to define. But if your days and weeks are becoming more filled with sessions of overeating and guilt; if thoughts of "bad" food and "good" food are constantly on your mind; and the lines between enjoying a small piece of cake on occasion and eating the whole pie are becoming more obscure, it might be time to step back take notice.

Keeping Binges at Bay
I’ve had many conversations with co-workers and friends about their post-weekend-binge guilt. Most often they say something like, "I was good all week! No sweets, no candy or cookies, and I even passed on mom’s mac & cheese at dinner the other night! But I just couldn’t help myself on Saturday when I opened the pint of ice cream to just take a bite and before I knew it, the whole carton was gone. Now I feel so guilty. I have to be extra good this week and go to the gym every day to work it off."

My response usually seems to surprise people: "Instead of eating the whole carton of ice cream on Saturday night, why not enjoy a small serving a few times throughout the week?" A half a cup of ice cream will likely set you back around 150 calories—maybe 200 for a really rich variety. But the whole carton will do much more damage than that! Not to mention the havoc all that sugar intake in one sitting will have on your blood sugar levels! Small amounts of sweets or high starchy foods over time are more likely to keep those cravings at bay and help prevent the cycle of binge eating and guilt.

For those of us who struggle with occasional binges that are more annoying and guilt-providing than obsessions or compulsions, there are a few tricks you can implement to keep yourself on track and avoid bingeing.
  1. NEVER eat directly from the whole carton, bag or box. Take out your portion and put the rest away.
  2. For sweets and treats, use small (4 ounce) bowls and cocktail spoons or forks. A half a cup of ice cream or pie will look like a lot more food if you put it in a small bowl, rather than a large bowl with lots of extra empty space. Using smaller spoons and forks will make smaller portions last longer and slow down your eating.
  3. Set a kitchen timer or monitor the clock and try to extend meal times to 15-20 minutes. Take small bites and put your fork down in between bites. Have a conversation, chew slowly, etc. These strategies will allow your body to have enough time for its fullness cues to kick in. It takes about 15-20 minutes for your tummy to send a single to your brain that you are full. Remember last Thanksgiving when you gobbled down 2-3 plates of food in about 5 minutes and then regretted it 10 minutes later because your tummy felt like it was going to explode? It’s a miserable feeling, but eating slowly is the best defense to preventing it from happening again.
  4. Learn to differentiate between hunger and cravings.  Cravings are usually for something specific (brownies, French fries, bread, candy, etc.). However, if you are truly hungry, you will most likely eat anything, including raw veggies dipped in hummus or a small handful of nuts. The lines between hunger and cravings are often blurred, especially with the abundance of food options we have in America. Listen to your body and learn to decipher between cravings and hunger.
  5. Sometimes, we can confuse hunger with thirst. If you find yourself staring into the fridge looking for something to eat, but don’t know what you want, you are most likely experiencing boredom cravings. Grab a glass of water and walk away.
  6. When a craving for a specific food strikes, have an answer for it: Go for a walk, read a good book, take a hot bath, whatever you have to do to get your mind off of the craving.
  7. Sometimes binge eating isn’t really about the food or the craving at all. Instead it’s more of a stress reliever after a really bad day or a difficult breakup. Often without realizing it, we eat the whole bag of cookies or that entire bowl of pasta as a coping mechanism for stress or personal struggles. One of the most important things to prevent these types of binges is to stay present. Slow down and savor each bite of food. Better yet, seek out stress relief by going for a walk around the block or taking a hot bath.
  8. DON’T skip meals! This is very important. Skipping meals and snacks can cause you to overeat at the next meal, and eating just one (or two) big meal per day can wreak havoc on your blood sugars and hinder weight loss. Aim for three meals per day plus one or two (based on your calorie needs) healthy snacks
  9. Stay present while eating. Be aware of what you are eating and how much. Focus on your food and minimize any other distractions: Avoid eating in front of the TV or computer. Clear off the kitchen table. Don't read, study, write or talk on the phone while you eat.  By eating more mindfully, you will enjoy your meals more, notices fullness, flavor and satisfaction better than ever before, and feel less of a desire to overeat.
  10. Know how you respond to trigger foods. You'll hear differing opinions about whether people prone to binge eating should keep their trigger foods in the house or far, far away. I think this depends on the person. Only YOU know your own limits. If you are the type of person that simply cannot stop at just one cookie or one serving of ice cream, it might be best to keep these foods out of the house for a while. However, I think the goal would be to work towards enjoying a small serving of a trigger food whenever a craving strikes in order to avoid the inevitable binge that usually follows bouts of restriction. For some, allowing a small serving of a trigger food throughout the week can prevent binges—because you allow it versus labeling it off-limits. Others have a harder time staying in control.
And remember, it's okay to enjoy a sweet treat or a hearty side item every now and then. Depriving yourself is usually worse in the long run and can lead to out-of-control eating episodes that add up to far more calories than the food you initially wanted to eat. Enjoy life’s simple pleasures in small amounts a few times per week.

Coming Back from a Binge
So let's say it's been a rough week and you binged on one or more foods. It doesn't matter whether it was your favorite flavor of ice cream, healthy foods from your "approved" list, or anything you could get your hands on. Now what? Here's a list of dos and don'ts to get you back on track:
  • DON'T beat yourself up over it. We’ve all had those days at some point, and you can't change what happened in the past.
  • DO move forward and make your next meal or snack a healthy, portion-controlled one.
  • DON'T overly restrict your diet over the next few days to "make up for being bad." This will make you more likely to continue the cycle of deprivation dieting and binging.
  • DO focus on making the best food choices you can each day, focusing on lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water. But continue to allow yourself to enjoy that small piece of dark chocolate (or other portion controlled treats) on occasion.
  • DON'T punish yourself at the gym after a binge. Stick to your usual exercise routine. Maybe go for an extra walk or do some other light activity in addition to your workouts, but try to avoid the mindset of "working off" the calories you consumed. This, too, can lead to an unhealthy cycle of binging and over-exercising. 
Remember, the overall goal is to seek balance. A healthy lifestyle is not defined by one single meal or eating episode. Even the healthiest eaters in the world aren't perfect all the time. It's the combination of your choices over time that will create an overall healthy lifestyle. 

Please note: Overeating on occasion, such as your birthday or Thanksgiving may very well be considered normal. However, if you are experiencing purging behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, taking laxatives or enemas, or excessive exercising to prevent weight gain OR if you’ve noticed that you are overeating very frequently, please seek professional help. On the same note, if every "sinful" bite of food or any overindulgence episode (big or small) leads you straight to the gym for several hours to work it off, you may be dealing with abnormal food and exercise issues, such as clinical binge eating disorder (a real eating disorder) or compulsive exercise, which can be a form of bulimia—another serious disorder.  Learn more about recognizing eating disorders and getting help.
-- By Lauri Watson, Registered Dietitian

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Letting Go of Perfectionism

For long-term weight loss success, aim for the 80/20 approach
How many times have you said “I’ll start my diet after…” You fill in the blank. After the holidays. After your birthday. After the weekend. After your mother-in-law goes home. It’s a delaying tactic that’s explored as a theme during Week 7 of Season 13’s Biggest Loser. And it feeds into a dangerous “all or nothing” diet mentality that can trip up long-term success, according to Greg Hottinger, RD, and Michael Scholtz, MA, authors of Coach Yourself Thin and weight loss coaches on Biggest Loser Club’s message boards.
Instead, they suggest a more realistic 80/20 approach, where you’re on plan most of the time but don’t go off the deep end if you take a short detour. Here’s an excerpt we think you’ll find helpful to your weight loss efforts: 
"Most of the Time" Is Enough
Perfectionist thinking would have you believe that you are either on or off of your program. You'd view foods and behaviors as either good or bad, with good foods and behaviors causing you to lose weight and bad foods and behaviors leading to weight struggle or weight gain. Perfectionism doesn't make room for real life to occur; it doesn't allow for those everyday situations that knock you off track. These events are a normal part of life, and if your plan doesn't allow you to adapt--to exercise less when you're pressed for time, have an extra treat now and then, eat out occasionally--your forward progress and your motivation will come to a grinding halt. Try as you might, you'll never stick to any plan 100 percent of the time. And things fall apart quickly when coming up short makes you feel like a failure.
That means that the path to success is moderation in your very approach to change. You need to accept that it is okay to make healthy choices "most of the time." Success literally depends on your understanding that not only do you not have to be perfect to reach your goals, but that aiming for perfection sets you up to fail.
Defining the 80/20 Approach
One balanced approach to lifestyle change is the 80/20 model. The idea is that 80 percent of your choices are made in the planned and predictable environment of your "normal" routine and are therefore mostly healthy, while 20 percent of your decisions are made in situations that are not part of your normal routine, and therefore may include indulgences or lapses. You might be at a birthday party and have a slice of cake, or maybe you get superbusy at work and miss a few days of exercise.
At first glance, an all-or-nothing approach actually seems easier to stick to because it's so black and white; there are hard-and-fast rules that are simple to follow. The 80/20 approach, on the other hand, requires judgment and moderation; you have to make decisions and choices on the fly. For example, can you have just one of your trigger foods (one of those foods that you struggle to eat in moderation) in a given situation? Can you take a day off from exercise and get right back to the gym the next day?
The keys to making 80/20 work are that 1) understanding that the 20 percent is a normal part of life and it's better to make peace with it than attempt to avoid it altogether, and 2) you haven't "blown it" and one indulgence or lapse doesn't have to cascade into several more.

Bringing Moderation to Life

What you use your 20 percent for is a very individual decision, and you must be selective about what is important to you and what is not. You might decide to indulge in an unexpected treat that doesn't necessarily fit into your plan for the day--a margarita at a festive social event, a favorite dessert at a local restaurant, or a unique bottle of wine opened by a friend. On the fitness side, you may skip your workout because some friends call you up at the last minute to go out, and it just sounds too fun to pass up.
In some cases, the 20 percent could be a true slip, rather than an intentional choice. Maybe you neither intended nor truly wanted the food or the day off from exercise: Your self-control truly failed you, or time got away from you before the gym closed. It will happen. But the 80/20 model helps you see that a small slip is inconsequential as long as your healthy 80 percent is there for you.
The 80/20 approach is not as exciting as trying to follow an extreme plan because it does not promise speedy, extreme weight loss. However, it will give you something that has been missing from your previous efforts: lasting results. Once you break free of All-or-Nothing Thinking (see page 22) and allow yourself to splurge on special occasions as part of your weight-loss program, you can relax and empower yourself to have long-term success.
When you say yes to 80/20, you are saying yes to:
• Living without fear of indulging on special occasions.
• Letting go of guilt after the occasional indulgence.
• Having a structure that offers guidance, but also flexibility to modify your plans as your life changes.
• Managing lapses by keeping them in perspective, learning from them, and moving forward (rather than dwelling on them, punishing yourself, and giving up completely).
• Living a sustainable lifestyle and having a greater chance of sticking with your program.
80/20 Exercise:
Think about a previous weight-loss program you tried, and identify two areas where you strove for perfection and set extreme goals. How long were you able to stick to the program?
If you rewrote those goals to include ranges that move away from perfection, such as "I will walk 4 or 5 days this week instead of aiming to exercise on all 7 days," or "I will limit myself to three or fewer sodas this week instead of trying to cut out soda altogether," how do you think this would have affected your success rate?
How does it feel to "lower the bar" for what you expect from yourself?
Think of one health-related goal you can commit to for the coming month. Write it down, ensuring that it is moderate and includes some flexibility.
At the end of each week, write in your journal about how being flexible affected your ability to stick to your goal.
Coach Yourself Thin © 2012 by Greg Hottinger and Michael Scholtz (Rodale)

Monday, February 13, 2012

27 Sensible Ways to Satisfy Your Chocolate Cravings

Better-for-You Chocolate Treats for 60-160 Calories

Chocolate and moderation used in the same sentence? I know, it sounds crazy! But these calorie-controlled chocolate fixes will satisfy your cravings without putting a dent in your calorie budget. No longer do you need to resort to fat-laden, triple-chunk fudge brownies to satisfy your chocolate desires. These days, plenty of portion-controlled, fast and even healthful chocolate snacks are available, making it easier to say no to the double-chocolate sundaes of the world without feeling deprived.

Although this list shouldn't be taken as a message to eat chocolate anytime, it will give you plenty of delicious lower-calorie options when you do choose to take care of that hankering for chocolate.

Quaker Chocolate Crunch Rice Cake (60 calories)
Rice cakes are a satisfying answer for any chocolate lover. You won't believe that one crunchy and crispy cake has just 60 calories!

One packet Nestle hot cocoa mix made with water (80 calories)
Sometimes we crave temperatures just as much as flavors. Warm up with some hot cocoa. Mix it with water to save some calories on your snack, but if you have the room in your calorie goal for the day, try it with skim milk. It will add about 90 calories to the snack, but you'll get more protein, calcium and vitamin D!

1 cup Silk Light Chocolate Soy Milk (90 calories)
It’s just like a thinner version of your favorite pudding. Rich and smooth, and hits the chocolate spot just right! When you know it has 30% of your vitamin D and Calcium, all bets are off. This is a great choice for your chocolate fix!

Half a Jocalat Larabar (95-105 calories)
Pick a flavor, any flavor! The Jocolat line of Larabars are incredible. Not only can you recognize ALL the words in the ingredients list, but they’re also packed full of good fats from raw nuts. Chocolate, chocolate mint, chocolate hazelnut and chocolate cherry are just a few of the great flavors. The whole bars contain 190-210 calories, so split them in half for a perfectly sized snack and save the rest for another day.

Fat-Free Devil's Food Cake Jell-O Pudding Snack (100 calories)
Smooth, cool, creamy, delicious, and low in calories, enjoy 10% of your daily calcium this way when you can’t get chocolate off your mind!

Quaker Chewy 25% Less Sugar Chocolate Chip Granola Bar(100 calories) 
This on-the-go snack gives you a small taste chocolate, plus 3 grams of fiber and only 5 grams of added sugar. It’s a great treat for the road, too. 

Yoplait Delights Chocolate Raspberry Yogurt Parfait (100 calories)
Win big with this chocolatey source of calcium-rich dairy! Chocolate raspberry is a nice, rich flavor that won’t leave you reaching for more.

Light “black cow” float (100 calories) 
A rare summer treat from my dad, this goofy-named dessert adds a little bubble to your chocolate. Place a 1/2 cup of fat-free chocolate frozen yogurt in a cup and pour 4 oz diet ginger ale on top. You can also create a nifty combo using diet lemon-lime soda.

Skinny Cow Fudge Bar (100 calories) 
Perfect for a summer day, this frozen chocolate on a stick will put a smile on any chocoholic’s face. It’s rich flavor matches perfectly with the smooth texture, and come on, it’s on a stick! That’s just fun.

5 Hershey's Kisses (110 calories) 
Eat them one by one, slowly and deliberately, and you will truly enjoy this small serving of milk chocolate. If you have trouble stopping at just five, put the bag in the freezer and only keep a stash of five thawed at any one time.

Homemade chocolate “croissant” (112 calories) 
Roll one Hershey kiss into the middle of one Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Roll and bake as directed for a warm, gooey dessert. Avoid poking any holes in the dough as you roll it to dodge a melty mess in your oven.

1/2 cup Edy’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Slow Churned Frozen Yogurt (120 calories) 
Rich and Creamy is right on the label, and they’re not kidding. This is a great chocolate ice cream with only 3.5 grams of fat per serving. However good, it’s important to measure your serving carefully, a half cup is tough to eyeball!

40 DIY chocolate-covered raisins (120 calories) 
Most packaged varieties contain trans fat, but you can make your own at home! Melt one quarter of a Hershey bar in the microwave, stir in about 40 raisins until they’re covered, spread onto wax paper, and let cool before you enjoy!

15 pretzels dipped in chocolate (120 calories) 
Dip 15 bite-sized twists into 1/4 of a melted Hershey bar for a satisfying snack with a little crunch and salt. This is quick and easy to make at home.

Chocolate Mint Luna Cookie (130 calories) 
4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein couldn’t possibly be easier to grab and eat on the go! It also has 8% of your daily iron needs and 25% of your calcium needs. It jibes with vegans and packs a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseeds.

Microwave s’more (130 calories) 
Enjoy the nostalgia of a campfire without the bug bites. Melt one marshmallow onto a low-fat graham square topped with 2-3 squares of chocolate (50 calories worth). Once melted, squish your s’more using another graham square. So good, you’ll want s’more another day.

3 large chocolate graham crackers (130 calories) 
If you like your chocolate with a little crunch, these tasty grahams can hit the spot when you want a cocoa-flavored snack.

Kashi TLC Dark Mocha Almond Chewy Granola Bar (130 calories)
Coffee and chocolate in a grab-and-go wrapping that gives you 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. It’s a seriously great choice when it comes to satisfying those nagging cravings!

Kashi TLC Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookie (130 calories) 
This soft-baked cookie has 4 grams of filling fiber. Grandma’s cookies can’t top that! Warm it in the microwave for a few seconds for an even more heavenly treat.

Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino Java Fudge Low-Fat Ice Cream Bar (130 calories) 
Satisfaction is high in these coffee-flavored bars that can be found in many grocery stores. They’re great for a cool day and really fulfill that craving for a rich chocolate taste.

Fiber One Oats & Chocolate Chewy Bar (140 calories) 
With 9 grams of fiber, this chewy bar makes a great chocolate treat. It also has a couple of grams of protein and 10% of your daily calcium needs in a grab-and-go package.

3/4 cup Chocolate Cheerios and 1/2 cup skim milk (140 calories) 
This crunchy, flavor-packed cereal is made with whole grains and will cure your cocoa craving. Be sure to measure carefully, as most folks overestimate when pouring cereal directly into a bowl.

10 strawberries dipped in chocolate (140 calories) 
Dip fresh strawberries into a little chocolate the next time you’re inkling for a sweet. Place 1/2 of a Hershey chocolate bar in the microwave until melted. Wash and dry 10 medium strawberries, then dip one side into the chocolate. Voila! A tasty, vitamin-packed chocolate treat that counts as two servings toward your daily fruit quota.

Homemade chocolate-banana parfait (150 calories) 
Enjoy some calcium and fiber with your next chocolate fix by layering 1/2 of a banana (diced), 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, and 1/8 cup mini chocolate chips in a sundae dish.

1 1/2 cups popcorn drizzled with chocolate (150 calories) 

Get some fiber with your chocolate by drizzling half of a melted chocolate bar over 1 1/2 cups of air popped popcorn. This is a high volume and filling snack that tastes great with a little chocolate.

Crunchy frozen yogurt sundae (150 calories) 
Put 1/2 cup low-fat frozen yogurt (vanilla or chocolate), 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup, a 1/4 cup crumbled low-fat graham crackers in a tall glass. Mash up with a spoon a bit to combine, and enjoy the mix of flavors and textures.

Chocolate chip vanilla yogurt (160 calories) 
Mix 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips in 6 ounce Yoplait Fat-Free Vanilla Yogurt—a simple way to give your standard yogurt snack a little pizzazz.
-- By Sarah Haan, Registered Dietitian

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How You React to Food Cues

The strategy you choose to change what you eat to lose weight may seem like what’s standing between you and a healthy weight, but the real question to be answered is howyou react to food cues. Are you an emotional eater or are you on the see-food diet? Maybe you’re a little bit of both. Regardless, the battle of losing pounds and maintaining a healthy weight has more to do with how you react to what’s inside your own head than anything on the outside. 

Uncontrolled vs. Restricted Eating
There’s no black and white when it comes to eating behavior. People generally fit somewhere along the spectrum between disinhibition and restraint, with one being more dominant than the other. Disinhibited eating includes eating uncontrollably or too quickly, eating when you’re not hungry, or in response to emotional distress. On the other hand, restraint refers to the ability to restrict how much you eat, cut out certain foods, and the ability to say no when presented with food when you’re not hungry. When it comes to striking a balance with diet and exercise, how much weight you lose may depend on your propensity toward disinhibition or restraint. A new study in the journal Appetite found those with a leaning toward disinhibition may be more successful with exercise-induced weight loss. Psychology researchers at the University of Bradford in the UK studied 58 overweight and obese subjects for 12-weeks during a supervised exercise program where participants burned 500 calories a day, 5-days a week. While it would seem that those with more restraint eating-wise would lose more weight, the opposite happened. But that’s only half of the story. 

Changing Behavior
There are two facets to disinhibited eating, internal and external: internal having to do with cognitive and emotional cues to eat, external with environmental cues to eat, i.e. being offered cake at work. Internal disinhibition was associated with the greatest weight loss during the study, but after the study, only restraint determined further weight loss. This suggests a shift in behavior that may affect weight maintenance. A different study seems to corroborate this idea. Published in Obesity, researchers found reducing eating in response to emotional and cognitive cues during a weight loss program, may help you keep the pounds off in the long run. This study followed participants for one-year, after an initial weight loss period of 3 months. While changes in external disinhibition showed no affect, improvements in internal disinhibition determined weight loss maintenance. 

The Battle for Your Mind
You may go back and forth about a weight loss strategy, but don’t lose sight of your ability to improve on the inside. It is near impossible to say you will never eat a piece of cake again or will workout everyday for the rest of your life. However, you can make an effort to change how you think about food, and more importantly, how you react to those thoughts. In addition to making small changes internally, try not to dwell on making drastic external changes. Ultimately, controlling your reactions to food is what will help resolve your battle with the bulge. Because overeating has been referred to as the single predictor of being overweight and obesity by a number of studies, don’t get lost in different types of diets, or varying macronutrient counts. Instead, work on controlling yourself by rationalizing your food thoughts. 

Ways to Improve Impulsive Eating 

If you determine you are not hungry and you truly just have the urge to eat, here are some ways to control yourself. Set a time between when you get the urge to eat, and when you allow yourself to eat, if a timer helps you keep time, set it. If after 10 to 30 minutes you still have the urge, despite not actually being hungry, think through your emotions. Ask yourself what may be affecting you emotionally. Drink a glass of water and take a short walk and reflect, or try a breathing exercise. You might also try doodling a favorite image, or journaling how you feel. All of these strategies involve addressing your thoughts and feelings, which can gradually decrease your dependence on food to comfort you.

By Calorie Count

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chips and Dips Get a Healthy Makeover

Skip Chips and Slim Down Dips for Healthier Party Fare
What would life be like without parties? And what's a party without great snacks? Too often, food is an afterthought to the drinks at cocktail, Super Bowl and holiday parties. What's a healthy eater to do when her only choices are a cheese ball (100 calories, 7 grams fat per serving) and crackers or a bowl of thick and creamy onion dip (60 calories, 6 grams fat per serving) with greasy potato chips? Make over your party fare with these new "chip" ideas, and slimmed down dips, which are affordable and healthy, too!

Ditch the Chips
Dig into your dip with one of these more nutritious options instead:
  • Grilled chicken (or tofu) chunks
  • Broccoli or cauliflower, steamed or raw
  • Bite size chunks of crusty whole-grain bread
  • Small whole wheat pretzels (Yes, they do exist!)
  • Pita chips
  • Miniature whole wheat pita breads
  • Baby carrots
  • Bell peppers, sliced into strips or cut into triangles (Remove top and bottom, then core peppers. Slice down center so pepper lies flat, then cut into triangles.)
  • Endive leaves
  • Inner leaves from Romaine lettuce
Slim Down Your Dip
Start the party off right. Instead of rich, creamy and cheesy dips, try a lighter version of that favorite dip. And remember, one serving of dip is about 1 ounce or 2 Tablespoons—that's about the size of a pair of dice.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip I'm famous for my healthier version of this recipe, which contains just 66 calories per serving. Just like the kind you get in restaurants, it's creamy and full of cheese. However, I use light cream cheese and just enough parmesan to add flavor. I sauté onions and garlic to add extra flavor. Even if you serve this with tortilla chips (one of my favorite treats at parties), the dip is still far lighter than the restaurant versions, which can have up to 775 calories per oversized serving!

Cheese Fondue Yes, even cheese fondue can be made healthier! It's a favorite party food of many, but this lighter version will let you indulge without guilt. It's just as creamy as the original, but its secret ingredients add fiber and flavor while cutting the fat. Even slimmed down, this is a "sometimes" food—one that's perfect for a party. Dust off your old fondue pot and cook up some cheesy goodness! (Oh, and one last tip: Swap beer for wine if that's what you have on hand. You can also use chicken broth. The liquid is just there to add flavor and keep the fondue moist.)
Roasted Red Pepper Dip Purée roasted red peppers with low-fat plain yogurt for a simply delicious dip. This recipe just 35 calories a serving, with 1 gram of fat!

Veggie Guacamole Serve smooth or chunky guacamole that's heavy on the veggies for only 75-80 calories per serving. By adding more vegetables to the dip, you're spreading out the fat and calories of the avocados, reducing the overall calorie count and boosting the nutrition profile.

More Dip Tips
  • Use light mayo, low-fat cream cheese and skim milk when making creamy dips.
  • Swap puréed white beans for half the mayo in creamy dips to boost calories and cut fat.
  • Serve dips with baked whole-grain crackers and vegetables.
  • Instead of using store-bought or your traditional homemade chip dip, use regular mayonnaise for half of the recipe, and replace the other half with reduced-fat sour cream. One cup of lower-fat sour cream will provide all the flavor and texture of mayonnaise but cut 1,300 calories and 150 grams of fat from the whole batch.
  • Try any one of these healthy dips, which have fewer than 50 calories a serving!
-- By Stepfanie Romine, SparkPeople Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An Invitation to Women

Beginning this Monday evening, February 6th, Biggest Loser will offer it's participants a great opportunity to come together and look closer at the spiritual side of our strggles to become healthier. While this may not appeal to all of our participants, I encourage you to take a look at the promo material below and see if you might be interested. If you are, we plan to meet from 6pm-7:30pm on Monday nights, immediately following weigh-in, for 7 weeks. Email me your desire to join us, or just show up!

Has food become more about frustration than fulfillment? Made to Crave takes a close look at the missing link between a woman’s desire to be healthy and the spiritual empowerment necessary to make that happen. Author Lysa TerKeurst personally understands the battle that women face. In Made to Crave, we will discuss how to:
  • Break the cycle of “I’ll start again on Monday,” and feel good about yourself today.
  • Stop agonizing over numbers on the scale and make peace with your body.
  • Replace rationalization that leads to diet failure with wisdom that leads to victory.
  • Reach your healthy goals and grow closer to God through the process.
This book is not a how-to manual or the latest, greatest dieting plan. Made to Crave is a helpful companion to use alongside whatever healthy eating approach you choose — a book and Bible study to help you find the “want to” in how to make healthy lifestyle changes.