Friday, March 07, 2014

Spring clean your diet

Well, I believe spring weather is almost here. Take that, polar vortex! The sun is finally shining and clocks will spring forward this Sunday for Daylight Saving Time. Hoorah! No more driving to and from work in pitch black conditions. 

Still, while I'm enjoying the warmer temperature, spring is typically an annual wake-up call - one reminding me to get back into shape before I have to start busting out the skimpy clothing again. It's even more of an issue this year, since we'll be attending a close friend's wedding in Jamaica in exactly one month...where swimsuits will be part of our daily wardrobe. And a few  months later in July, I myself will be getting married to my sweetie. That means ramping up my workout efforts and maintaining healthier eating habits  for the near future. But with friends in town this weekend, St. Patty's Day looming and various birthdays and dinners  on the calendar, it's hard to keep my girlish figure. How does one stay in shape and eat healthy with such an active social life? While I certainly don't have all those answers, I do have a few dining-related tips that don't involve steering clear of restaurants and parties altogether. 

1. Avoid buffets. While economical, buffets make it too easy to load up the plate with an array of high-carb, high-calorie and high-fat foods. 

2. Step away from the bread basket. If you'd like a roll, grab one then move it outside of your reaching distance. The same goes for chips, should you be at a Mexican restaurant. Grab a small handful than stay away from it the rest of the night. 

3. Meal modifications are key. Feel free to make special requests. Ask the waiter if they can put the sauce on the side - or to substitute french fries with veggies. Find out if your meal can be made without butter, oil or salt...anything that could help cut down on calories. 

4. Start out healthy. Consider ordering a light salad or soup to kick things off. This will help to fill you up before you dive into the big meal. You also might want to split your entree with a friend. 

5. Practice portion control. Remember that restaurant sizes are often larger than normal. Consider eating half of your meal and putting the rest in a doggie bag. 

6. Avoid all the bells and whistles. Don't add a bunch of extras to your meal. When it comes to a salad, avoid topping it off with buttery croutons, grated cheese, bacon and dollops of high-fat dressing. The same goes with a burger, baked potato and other entrees. 

7. Don't binge drink at the dinner table. A glass or wine or two with your meal is one thing. But don't knock back a six-pack of beer or a few bottles of wine single-handedly. It's not good for you - and in more ways than just calories. 

If you'd like to try your own hand at making a high-class restaurant-style meal, check out these yummy sucralose-sweetened recipes. 

Balsamic Brown Rice Salad 
Herb Rubbed Pork 
Italian Cream Pie with Strawberry Sauce

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