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Does this sound familiar- you vow to put in a mile or two on the treadmill every day and count every last calorie, but a few days later the diet is forgotten and you’re wolfing down on pizzas and beers with your friends? Draconian diets are tough to stick with. It’s better to make small changes in your daily diet than take an all-or-none approach. Losing weight is especially hard if you are one of those people that just can’t resist junk food.
Here are some healthy swaps to help you get in shape without feeling deprived:
1. Burgers: A McDonald’s Big Mac has a colossal 550 calories! Add to that fries and Coke, and you’re looking at close to 1500 calories! We suggest you make burgers at home using whole grain buns and lots of salad. Use healthy grilled patties and low-fat spreads with herbs to add flavor. Serve with oven-baked sweet potato chips brushed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.
2. Pizza: A single slice of thick crust pizza packs in about 275 calories. Multiply this by 3 or 4 slices and add the calories from your drink, and you are overshooting your daily calorie count in just one meal.
The alternative is to make your pizza with whole grain flour (or use Lebanese bread), well-seasoned home-made tomato paste, low-fat cheese, and a generous pile of veggies.
3. Fried chicken: A small piece of deep-fried chicken coated in breadcrumbs contains as many as 250 calories. And who can stop at just one piece? Substitute this with a piece of chicken that’s dipped in egg, rolled in breadcrumbs and herbs, and baked or grilled in an oven.
4. Fajitas and burritos: A chicken fajita burrito from Chipotle Mexican Grill can be a whopping 1200 calories! If you love Mexican food but don’t want to derail your diet, consider a deconstructed burrito with lettuce, beans, avocado, and salsa. A serving of fresh tomato salsa has only 10 calories compared to the decidedly more substantial 230 in guacamole. Go easy on the sour cream and cheese and skip the rice.
5. Potato chips and dips: Snacking can be a serious business. Just 100 grams of potato chips and cream cheese dip comes loaded with 900 calories! Substitute with multi-grain pita chips, baked sweet potato or banana chips, and kale chips as healthier alternatives. Hummus is packed with protein and is low in calories.
6. Cocktails: If you’ve been watching what you eat and are wondering why you’re not losing weight, then you might be drinking your calories. A glass of Long Island Iced Tea has a massive 780 calories while Margaritas and Pina Coladas are close to 700 calories per glass. On the other hand, a glass of red wine has only 75 calories, is good for your heart, and is loaded with antioxidants. Choose your drinks wisely, or better still, make yourself a refreshing Mojito with white rum, mint, lime juice, and soda water, swapping the sugar syrup for a dash of brown sugar.
7. Muffins and Cakes: Grabbing a chocolate chip muffin at your local bakery can set you back by 500 calories and you would need to walk briskly for 6 miles to burn shed it off. We thus suggest that you bake some apples, cinnamon, and oat bran muffins that are heart-healthy and delicious. Experiment with dates and prunes as natural sweeteners and use healthier ingredients like carrot, ginger, banana, and walnuts in your cakes and muffins.
8. Biscuits and Cookies: When you absentmindedly stuff a Hob Nob or Bourbon biscuit into your mouth, you’ve devoured close to 70 calories, and a 100-gram serving of butter cookies is a gigantic 500 calories. Cereal and granola bars are loaded with whole grains instead of butter and sugar. Other options are muesli and Chia seed biscuits that contain rolled oats, carrots, pumpkin, and sultanas.
9. Chocolate: If you must eat chocolate, pick your indulgence carefully. Not all chocolates are made equal. Milky Way has 98 calories per bar and 3.5 g of fat while a Snickers bar has close to 300 calories and 16.5 g of fat! Dark chocolate is calorie-rich (550 calories in 100 g), but a small piece is often enough to satisfy cravings.
10. Ice cream: A cup of Ben and Jerry’s Fudge Brownie Ice Cream has 500 calories, and that’s without any additional toppings like nuts or chocolate sauce. A healthy alternative is to freeze fruit like bananas or berries and blend them in a food processor until smooth. Add healthy toppings like almonds or honey for added taste and sweetness. When you do give in to temptation, remember gelato has less cream and about 30% fewer calories than ice cream.
Small tweaks in your eating habits can result in big changes. Try these ideas for food that has all the flavor, but none of the fat.
It would be easy to go ahead with the alternatives that are mentioned above, but they would help you more if you could take the time to understand the reasons you keep on snacking all the time. This would also help you get to the basics of what you should eat and what time, and just how you can use this restraint to get better results for your fitness on a daily basis.
Understanding the psychology behind eating junk foods and snacking all the time
If you feel hungry all the time, it is your body’s way of telling that you need some sustenance to work effectively. Here we are talking about those days when just 25-30 mins after a hearty lunch you feel starved again. This means you are hungry even before you can finish the snacks that are already there in your hand.
This might be happening every day with you, but the concern here is why? Though it is normal to have an increased appetite after gym or workouts, if you constantly feel like a bottomless pit, there might be some serious issue. Here we are tweaking some of your daily habits that can eventually help in keeping a check on your appetite so that you’ll keep all that eating to when you’re hungry:
1. Confusing thirst for hunger
The same part of the brain is responsible for thirst and hunger signals, and this makes it difficult for the body to distinguish as to whether you are thirsty or hungry. Keep a water bottle at your desk so you remember to sip water throughout the day. This will help you avoid unnecessary snacking and munching.
2. Focusing too much on simple carbs & sugars
If you eat a lot of simple carbs and sugar it will make it impossible to feel satisfied. This is because your glucose levels will rise and give you energy and the crash rapidly causing your body to crave more fuel. This ultimately becomes a vicious cycle, where you never feel satisfied no matter how much you keep eating.
3. You’re not eating enough
It might sound contradictory to your weight loss goals but it is true that if you space your meals too far it can make you constantly hungry. The simple logic behind this is that if your stomach is empty for long your body is likely to release more ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, leaving you feeling famished. To avoid overeating, try eating a meal or snack every three to four hours.
4. Too much stress
This is the most common reason to feel hungry. When you are stressed, the body’s production of the hormone cortisol increases, which boosts appetite since your body thinks it needs to prepare to fight. Stress tends to increase the cravings for sugar-rich and fatty foods which are known for comforting you physiologically. This may make you feel better temporarily, but in the end, it increases snack cravings.
5. Imbalanced nutrient intake
The three main components of healthy snacks are fiber, protein, and fat. They are responsible for slowing down the process of digestion to keep blood sugar stable and to keep you feeling full for longer. If you opt for foods that are rich only in fats and carbs it is going to create an imbalance in your body resulting in overeating. To avoid such situations always carry with you some healthy snacks like roasted nuts, cherry tomatoes, cottage cheese, avocado.
6. Lack of adequate sleep
Sleep has a close relation with hunger hormones namely, leptin (reduces appetite) and ghrelin (stimulates appetite). When you sleep less, the leptin levels go down and ghrelin levels go up- and this results in feeling hungry. When you’re exhausted, your body craves a quick fuel source like glucose, which gets you reaching for those sugar-laden foods. These food items set you off on a hunger spree since they give you a quick energy boost, followed by a sugar crash that makes you crave more.
7. Any medical problem
If none of the potential reasons match with your overeating habits, it may be worth seeing a doctor rule out any real health concerns. There are many diseases like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, depression, and anxiety that can result in increased appetite.
We hope you take out time to go through the reasons you are investing so much time in eating all the unhealthy stuff. If you could figure out the reasons, it would become easier for you to focus on what fast food alternatives you can take as per your organic diet. Needless to say, you would always gain from eating a regular, healthy, and organic diet than you would from fast foods.
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