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Day #8: Tricking the eye

Posted Jan 11 2010 2:16pm
Are you overweight because you are eating too many carrots, celery sticks, apples or grapes? My guess is unlikely. However, as an active individual, looking for the competitive edge or just seeking fitness gains, I have a feeling that your overall diet is somewhat healthy.
Do you eat any of the following foods in your weekly diet?
Granola
Low fat yogurt
Whole grain bread
Whole grain pasta or brown rice
Potatoes (sweet or white)
Olive oil
Low fat cottage cheese
Greek yogurt
High fiber cereal
Oatmeal
Nuts
Natural Peanut butter
Hummus
Quinoa/Couscous
Soy milk
Dark chocolate


These are just a few of the "healthy" foods that come to mind in a healthy diet and I think we could all agree that all (most) of these foods are yummy and easy to include in our daily diet. And perhaps, easy to overindulge.
I can't tell you how many times I hear from athletic individuals, who tell me about their "healthy" diet, that they continuously struggle with weight loss. One would wonder how choosing organic or natural foods, alongside working out on a daily basis, would cause a person to gain weight and not lose weight. One would think that if you abide my magazine articles or websites telling you to eat the top 20 foods (according to Runner's World) for weight loss, that one would be able to lose weight.
Well, according to many of my athletes (and perhaps yourself), eating healthy food isn't the main problem. In many cases, the problem is eating too much of them in one sitting.
Regardless if a food is termed "healthy", labeled "organic, natural or whole grain" or even promoted as "fat free, trans fat free or sugar free" there are likely calories and some type of ingredients (likely sugar or fat) in your "healthy" food that is preventing you from losing weight. While I don't suggest that you avoid whole grains because they contain calories (and fiber), that you avoid olive oil because it is high in fat (the good kind) or that you avoid low fat yogurt because it contains sugar (I always recommend low fat or fat free over regular or fruit on the bottom yogurt) I do suggest that you pay close attention to portions. I am assuming that most people would fill up a lot faster while trying to eat 3 medium apples (at 72 calories per apple) than eating the same amount of calories of granola (2/3rd cup for 230 calories). However, I'm sure you would agree that the granola would be so much more yummy in your after-work clothes, while sitting on the couch and watching Biggest Loser than chowing down on a bowl full of sliced apples.

One of my biggest problem solvers for people wanting to lose weight, without sacrificing favorite healthy foods, is to find ways to trick your eyes.

First off, learn to use different bowls, plates and glasses. If you are eating a salad, use a large bowl. If you are eating pizza, use a 6" plate for 1 slice instead of a 9" or 12" to fit 3 slices. If you are craving ice cream, use a coffee or tea cup. If you are craving a big bowl of ice cream, fill a big bowl with fruit and top with ice cream. If you want a snack of cereal, eat it out of a glass instead of a bowl. If you are having salad with your pasta or pizza, use a large plate and fill most of the plate with salad before serving yourself pasta or pizza. If you are eating a sandwich and have trouble seeing an empty plate without chips, use a smaller plate for your sandwich and put a pile of sliced veggies and a serving of chips on an even smaller plate. If you are choosing trail mix for a snack, use a kiddie bowl rather than eating out of the bag. If you want pita chips, crackers or baked chips, use a tea-saucer instead of a bowl.

Here are some ideas for you:

1 serving of Ice cream (1/2 cup) or 8 ounces yogurt:
Instead of a big bowl


Choose a big bowl w/ fruit



Or, a small cup


Even better, a small cup with fruit



Dark chocolate:
Instead of 1 block of dark chocolate


1 block of dark chocolate w/ 1/2 pear (sliced)


1 cup Skim or soy milk:
Instead of a tall glass


Choose a short glass




1/4 cup Nuts:
Instead of a bowl of nuts


Use a kiddie bowl


Salads:
Use a big bowl


Pasta or rice:
Use a small bowl

Serving a meal of salad and pasta/rice:
Use the big bowl for the salad and the small bowl for the "main" part of your meal


1 cup Cereal:
Instead of a cereal bowl



Use a soup bowl


Sandwiches and your favorite side items:
Instead of a big plate for a 1/2 Spinach, egg and cheese whole wheat pita w/ 1 Wasa cracker and 2 tsp natural PB


Use a small plate



Do you have any other healthy tricks when you prepare your meals and snacks?
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