Tag Archives: portion control

Happy, Healthy Holiday Tips

“Tis the season to be jolly! A season filled with festivities, friends, family, fellowship…and yes, food!

How can you enjoy the season and not give yourself the typical 2- 8 lbs at Christmas that may linger all year? Here are a few top survival tips:

  1.  Focus on the people and conversation everywhere you go — let food be a secondary joy.
  2. Arrive at events satisfied, not starving. 
  3. Drink 2 glasses of water before walking in the door, and drink 2 glasses of water for every higher calorie beverage.
  4. Fill up first on veggie and fruit options (easy on the dips, dressings, sauces).
  5. Go lean with protein, such as turkey, meatballs, ham, roasted chicken, beef tenderloin slices.
  6. Pay attention to liquid calories, such as holiday punch, soda, beer, wine, eggnog, which pack hundreds of extra calories…and pounds. 
  7. Use small plates, which lends to smaller portions. Imagine each bite providing 50 calories…100 bites = 5000 calories (= 1.5 lbs of weight gain per party!)
  8. Think small and special, so skip “usual” foods like chips and dips, and head to seasonal favorites.
  9. Cut portions into smaller bites than usual.  More bites = more chews = more filling.
  10. Offer to bring a dish, such as a fruit trays, vegetable tray, coleslaw, pico de gallo, Heavenly Seven-Layer Dip (recipe below), turkey slices, vegetable wraps, popcorn, chex mix with added popped cereals (rice, oats, wheat, etc).
  11. Keep moving –walk the mall or walk your neighborhood! Every step helps.
  12. Remember that eating scheduled meals and exercising at scheduled times will help you survive the stress of the season, so you can enjoy the holidays even more.

For easy tips, meal plans, recipes and more, check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009). Or, send me an email at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com, for a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  I want you to be at your healthiest and happiest this holiday season, and carry that well into the New Year!

Follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or Twitter @georgiakostas.

Healthy Seven-Layer Dip

Guacamole (buy at grocery store or make homemade below). Set aside.

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
2 teaspoons lime juice, fresh or bottled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons salsa or fresh chopped tomato
Garlic powder or garlic salt to taste (optional)
Black pepper to taste

Dip layers   Prepare and set aside each item below.

8 ounces fat-free or light sour cream
1-ounce packet taco seasoning mix
15-ounce can fat-free or vegetarian refried beans
1 cup diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
2 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese blend (i.e. Jack and cheddar)
2 1/4-ounce can sliced black olives (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In small bowl, blend sour cream with taco seasoning.
  2. Spread the refried beans in the bottom of a deep-dish pie plate or glass pan (you can warm the beans up in the microwave briefly to make them more spreadable.)
  3. Top the beans with the sour cream mixture; then top each layer as follows: guacamole, tomatoes, green onions, shredded cheese, black olives.

Serve with reduced-fat tortilla chips or reduced-fat crackers or baby carrots, jicama sticks, red bell pepper slices, broccoli or cauliflower pieces,

Makes 16 appetizer servings.

Per serving (dip only): 85 calories, 5.2 grams protein, 6.4 grams carbohydrate, 4.4 grams fat (1.9 grams saturated fat, 1.9 grams monounsaturated, .3 grams polyunsaturated fat), 7 milligrams cholesterol, .7 grams fiber, 258 milligrams sodium. Calories from fat: 46%.

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Small Changes, Big Results

People often ask for my viewpoint on nutrition, weight loss, and success – making changes “stick”. In simple terms, here’s my philosophy:

  1. Small changes…taken one at a time.
  2. Accountability…to one’s self and someone else.
  3. Target dates…to accomplish each new beneficial step.

Recently, I met with a young woman, ecstatic because she lost 4 lbs in one week, “without dieting”.   Based on her eating patterns, she chose to follow through with the following three steps from a list we compiled:

  1. Drink 80 oz of water daily; obtained by 16 oz at 3 meals and 16 oz upon waking and in the afternoon.
  2. Larger, baseball-sized portions of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables that she was already eating and enjoying.
  3. More “activity” in the evenings, rather than sitting.

These few steps resulted in weight loss because the “fill-up value” of water, fruits and vegetables   enabled smaller portions of other calorie-rich foods. In addition, an evening project of fixing up her patio kept her engaged in a fun, rewarding activity after a full day of work.  No “reward” food in front of the TV was needed!

Small changes, big results. This is the note she wrote me:  “I love that I don’t feel like I am dieting, but I am still losing weight.  I am starting to see how taking care of myself can happen by making small, positive changes daily.  This is a significant shift for me, so I am grateful!”

What small changes can help you trim 50 calories off breakfast, 100 off lunch, 100 off dinner, and 50 off a snack?  Think about it, because here are the potential results:  a loss of approximately 8 pounds in 90 days!  Add 60 min of additional physical activity weekly (if appropriate) for a loss of approximately 10 lbs in 90 days! That is success!

I am a big believer that it is the little things that count the most! Do YOU have tips for small changes that help you achieve your best health, weight, fitness, energy?  I would love to hear them. Please share your ideas in the comments below.

For more resources and tips, visit www.georgiakostas.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my professional Facebook page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.

Celebrating National Nutrition Month (Part 1 of 3)

Getting to Know Your Plate

In honor of National Nutrition Month, let me fill you in on two simple tips to help boost the nutritional value of every meal you eat. Start by looking at your plate. What do you see?

Tip #1:  Is it bursting with color?  If it is, it’s bursting with nutrients! Does it boast color variety? If it does, it’s boasting nutrient variety! And the brighter the colors…you guessed it…the more nutrients present!

Tip #2:  Is it divided into four different foods of equal portion? By dividing your plate into four equal food portions, you get the proper amount, proper food balance and proper calories in return.

Now combine these two tips and you’re on your way to better health.

Remember this example:

Choose a fist-sized portion of a green vegetable, a fist-sized portion of a red/orange vegetable, a fist-sized portion of a healthy starch (potato, brown rice, pasta, or wholegrain), and a palm-sized portion of protein.  These portions represent about 1 cup of everything; and a 3-4 oz piece of protein. Now you have a perfectly balanced, healthy meal…rich in nutrients and fiber, and low in calories…all for under 600 calories!

Try these delicious meal ideas:

  • 3-4 oz chicken breast, 1 cup broccoli, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup brown rice
  • 3-4 oz lean beef tenderloin, 1 cup spinach, 1 cup yellow squash, one small sweet potato
  • 2 cups of salad consisting of dark lettuce greens, tomato, red bell pepper, red onion slices, mushrooms, celery, radishes, and cucumber slices and carrots, topped with 3 thin slices of fajita meat or a chicken breast and dressed with a touch of salsa or vinaigrette
  • 2 cups of mixed vegetables, such as broccoli,  snow peas, cabbage, carrots, onions and mushrooms, stir-fried with 3-4 oz of scallops, shrimp, lean meat or poultry, and served over 1 cup of brown rice

Need more ideas for building a healthy plate bursting with color and in appropriate proportions? See my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution (2009). Quick meal Ideas in my book are just 400-500 calories!

Next time you sit down to eat, ask yourself: are there four colors or more? Are there four different foods of equal portion? If yes, enjoy! You are treating yourself to better health and easier weight control.  If no, simply add a splash of grape tomatoes, radishes, baby carrots, or a bright salad to your plate. Check out Part 2 of my National Nutrition Month blog series: Color Your Plate like an Artist’s Palette.

For more healthy plate ideas, or to order a copy of my book, visit www.georgiakostas.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.

Go Red for Heart Month! Show your Heart some TLC

Go red! You may recognize this American Heart Association’s Heart Month slogan, reminding us that heart disease is the top health threat to women, as well as men.

Go red! This is a great way to eat to prevent heart disease. Red foods contain plant nutrients called bioflavonoids and anthocyanins – both of which are heart-protecting natural blood thinners, anti-oxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents that protect arteries, blood vessels and our hearts. It is easy to eat red/orange at almost every meal – a fresh orange or berries at breakfast, with cereal or a shake, a red apple or tomato soup with a sandwich at noon, or tomatoes in a sandwich; at supper, a salad with tomato, red onion, red bell pepper, carrots, radishes, California (red/green) lettuce – that’s six red foods right there. Sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, red grapes, all berries, red lettuces, red cabbage, eggplant are other ways Nature provides us with cardiovascular health.

Other simple, effective ways to enjoy heart health:

  • Eat heart-healthy – fruit, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, poultry, lean meat cuts, healthy oils (olive and canola oil, tub spreads, Smart Balance Heart Right spread with stanols and omega 3’s, pistachios, nuts, nonfat milk/yogurt; limit sugar and fatty foods, sodas, processed foods.
  • Exercise regularly – do good-for-the- heart aerobic activity 150 minutes a week; resistance training 2-3 times weekly ; and stretching for balance, flexibility, agility
  • Live a healthy lifestyle – get enough rest, relaxation; keep a healthy weight; don’t smoke; control alcohol ( at most: less than 1 drink daily for women; two for men)
  • Keep tabs of your blood cholesterol levels, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, omega 3 levels, c-reactive protein, homocysteine, vitamin D levels, blood pressure, blood sugar – all biomarkers of cardiovascular risk. Normalize your levels with lifestyle – eating, exercise, weight.
  • Pay attention to your waistline more than your total weight. Middle fat raises heart risk.

How does your diet rate? Would you like to lessen your need for cholesterol-lowering medications? You can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and protect your arteries and heart with simple food strategies and weight management. Check out my website www.georgiakostas.com to learn more. Here’s to your happy heart!

Follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.

Putting the NEW 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans into Action

This morning, the eagerly-awaited 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released to help Americans eat better, become more active, enjoy better health and a healthier weight, and prevent the most common chronic diseases – heart disease, lung disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer.  These health issues decrease quality of life, yet are 80% preventable with proper food, physical activity, weight, and lifestyle (not smoking and alcohol limits).

Here is my take on the 2010 Guidelines – what they say and how to live them:

  • Eat with the plate approach. Divide your plate into fourths. Make one half of your plate fruits and vegetables at lunch and dinner.  Choose lean protein (fish, poultry, lean beef/pork cuts, beans/peas) and starches/whole grains to make up the other two one-fourth portions. The divided plate creates food variety, nutrient-richness, balance and appropriate (moderate) portions.  No calorie or fat counting needed! The more color, the better.
  • Avoid over-sized portions. Remember just 3 “portion-right” visuals:  1) a baseball = 1 cup – Eat vegetable and fruit portions at least the size of a baseball ; eat starches (potatoes, pasta, rice, corn) no bigger than a baseball;  2) a deck of cards = 3 oz lean protein;  3) a golf ball = 2 tablespoons – the maximum amount of total fat (oil, spreads, dressings)  we    should add to our foods daily.  Choose healthy fats (liquid oils, soft tub spreads) rather than solid stick margarine, shortening, and foods with trans fats (French fries, doughnuts, many commercially prepared snacks, desserts, fast foods).
  • Increase no-fat or low-fat milk. We need the Calcium, Vitamin D and eight other key nutrients that are concentrated in dairy foods (milk, cheese, yogurt). Choose dairy 2-3 times daily.
  • Choose lean protein. Eat more seafood – at least twice weekly. Choose lean beef cuts, which concentrate large amounts of 8 key nutrients in just a 150-calorie, “right-size” 3 oz cooked portion (4 oz raw).  No need to overeat protein. Beans, peas, nuts are alternative plant proteins.
  • Good news! We do not need to eliminate any foods.  Enjoy eating! Go for balance and quality. Select lower-fat options; minimize sugar, salt, and processed foods which tend to have more calories, fewer nutrients. Choose “real food,” or wholesome foods with maximum nutrients and fiber, less salt, sugar, fat, and processing.
  • Exercise daily. Drink water instead of sugary beverages.  Eat breakfast. Watch snacks. Be mindful of calories in/calories expended, to keep weight healthy, and prevent weight gain. Seek the help of a registered dietitian to help you understand how to do this, for your body size.
  • Eat more nutrient-rich, fiber-containing whole grains. Choose 100% whole wheat bread and cereals, oatmeal, corn, popcorn, Kashi, reduced-sodium Triscuits.
  • Cut salt in half or more. Eat less salt and high-sodium foods. Read and compare food labels, choosing lower- sodium soups, snacks, crackers, etc. Target levels: 2300 mg for healthy adults and children; 1500 mg for those 51 years old and older, African Americans, and those with or at risk of hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease…more than half of Americans.   Why? Excess sodium hurts arteries, the heart, and blood pressure. Current intake daily for adults averages 3400 mg.  Stick with fresh or frozen produce , dry beans and peas, unsalted nuts, and more natural (less processed) plant foods…no sodium exists in these fresh foods.

Want to implement these guidelines today? My latest book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009) offers you quick and easy solutions…realistic meals, divided plate menus, quality snacks, brand-named products to spare you time from label-reading. Find “how to” tips on every topic mentioned in the new Guidelines. Enjoy reading food tips instead of food labels. Book available at http://www.georgiakostas.com/Products.aspx or Amazon.

Take even two of these steps this year, and you will find yourself healthier, at a better weight, enjoying fresh food more, and saving health dollars in 2011. That’s a lot of good news!

Tips for Better Health and More Energy in the New Year

Ready to get a fresh start in January and begin your action plan for better health and more energy? Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Cut 100 calories from your daily eating. You’ll lose 10 lbs in a year. Cut 200 calories. Lose 20 lbs. Begin with achievable goals – skip a slice of bread, use less dressing or mayonnaise, etc. We can all find those little extras we can live without, painlessly. Take one step at a time.

2. Manage portions. Know that a deck of cards = 3 oz meat/fish/poultry protein; a golf ball holds 2 tablespoons dressing. These amounts are appropriate for weight loss or management. Consider what other portion adjustments could help you most.

3. Include protein at each meal. Protein sustains energy and keeps appetite in check. Include a 3 oz protein portion at lunch and dinner. At breakfast, try 2 egg whites (or 1 egg ), 1 cup milk or yogurt, and one of the following: 1 tablespoon peanut butter or 1 cup Kashi cereal or a slice of lean ham or 1 slice 2%-fat cheese. Each of these meals contains 25-35 protein grams…..very satisfying!

4. Eat breakfast. Many studies show breakfast eaters eat better the rest of the day, as well as fewer calories and less fat, compared to breakfast skippers. Breakfast also jumpstarts morning energy and brain-power.

5. Eat slowly. You feel full and eat less….automatically.

6. Chew gum in place of a snack. You can save a typical snack’s 200-300 calories.

7. Burn 200 calories from 30 minutes of aerobic activity you enjoy daily. You’ll lose 20 lbs a year.

8. Drink 64 oz water a day – 24 oz when you wake up, 24 oz mid-day, 24 oz before and after workouts…and even more later. The more, the better.

9. Pick one habit to change. Healthier snacks. One less soda. Less TV noshing. Begin meals with an appetite suppressant: salad, fresh fruit, cup of soup, hot tea.

10. Surround yourself with support. Get your family, friends and colleagues involved with like goals. A work-force is a powerful source of all-day-long support.

Begin with the steps above. If you would like a more specific food plan tailored to meet your eating preferences, exercise needs, and lifestyle, email me at georgia@georgiakostas.com. A consult can change your January and your year!

Visit my website at www.georgiakostas.com or like my Facebook Fan Page at Georgia Kostas Nutrition. Here’s to a healthy, fit year!