To me, diet has always been synonymous with self-discipline (as well as starving and suffering). I’m glad to see that more and more people are coming to grips with the fact that diets simply don’t work. The idea from years past of “eating like a bird” actually slowed down our metabolism by making our body think it was starving (which of course it was) — and everyone despises deprivation.
So this year, make a resolution for a nutritionally responsible, healthy New Year that you can actually live with. Make the switch to a low-fat, high-carbohydrate lifestyle. To get you started I’ve put together a few New Year recipes in that vein.
I won’t preach about consistent exercise, except to say it’s the best way to increase our metabolism, burn body fat, release stress, and give us more energy. I have come to love my time on the bicycle, which gives me a chance to escape family members who want to know if they have any clean socks or where the milk is.
Now, let’s talk low-fat eating. The U.S. government guidelines recommend that no more than 30% of our daily consumed calories come from fat. As illustrated in the USDA food pyramid (which replaces the obsolete four food groups), fats and sweets are the no-no’s at the tip of the pyramid while carbohydrates make up its foundation. This is where our government finally got smart; complex carbohydrate calories are rarely stored as fat because they’re the body’s main source of energy.
The fat you eat is converted into body fat more efficiently than the carbohydrates and protein (unfair but true). Fat has the highest calorie density of all foods — nine calories per gram of fat. This compares with four calories per gram for both carbohydrates and protein. A single tablespoon of oil contains 120 calories — all of them fat calories. We could eat the same number of calories by eating three-fourths cup of oatmeal, six cups of air-popped popcorn, or four cups of green beans.
Does this mean that if we normally consume 2,000 calories per day but want to shed a few pounds, we can still eat the same number of calories and lose weight? Yes, but all those nasty, old fat calories must be replaced with complex carbohydrates, protein, plus fruits and vegetables. This creates a bit of a challenge because most people are used to “enhancing flavors” by throwing butter, sauce, and plenty of disguised fats on top of their meals. Here are some suggestions to ease into a healthier 1994.
- Use vinegar, mustard, tamari, lemon juice, garlic, chilies, fresh ginger, spices, and herbs to flavor foods.
- Use wine, tomato sauce, and unsalted chicken broth to replace the oil in sauces. Chicken broth has 1.4 grams of fat per cup, compared to 13.5 grams for one tablespoon of olive oil.
- Broil, grill, or roast meats, fish, vegetables, and tofu instead of frying. Poach (steam) chicken and fish in wine and garlic.
- Make vegetables, pasta, and grains the focus of the meal. Use meat sparingly.
- Cook with nonstick pans. If oil is needed, brush on a little.
- Use a spray bottle for cooking oil instead of buying cooking spray. A water filled spray bottle is also handy when sautéed food sticks to the pan.
- Use dairy products sparingly. Use lowfat cheeses, sour cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt. In recipes using sour cream or mayonnaise, replace half of the mayonnaise with low-fat yogurt.
- Substitute evaporated skim milk for cream. In baked goods, replace the milk with low-fat buttermilk, soy milk, or rice cream.
- Try jam and yogurt cheese on toast, muffins, and bagels instead of butter.
- Grate cheese onto the food instead of slicing it; you’ll use less.
- Serve seasonal fruit for dessert. Poach some pears, sauté apples in maple syrup, and serve with frozen yogurt.
- Prepare raw vegetables, baked chips, and salsa to have ready for snacking.
- Read labels. Some low-fat packaged foods are not low-fat at all. Health Valley has a good selection of quality fat-free products.
My Healthy Recipes: