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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Weight Loss Tips That Really Work, Part Two

In the first set of tips in this series, I wrote about how a healthy breakfast with plenty of fiber will help kick off your weight loss and give you a great start to your day. However, two-thirds of the day still remains, and if you don't have an eating plan for lunch and dinner, you run the risk of sabotaging all the good effort you put into creating and consuming a healthy breakfast.

Have you ever looked closely at what skinny women eat for lunch? I had a friend at work who was fastidious about her weight. She ate a hefty salad every day for lunch. When I asked her to share her strategy, she said that she bought several bags of pre-washed mixed salad during her weekend shopping trips, along with some cherry tomatoes and a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Over the weekend, she would broil or grill the breasts, slice them up, and place them in a baggie in the fridge. Each morning, she'd add salad, tomatoes, and chicken and any other raw veggies she had on hand, like shredded carrots. She'd grab a bottle of low-fat dressing and head for work. Her lunch routine never varied, but then neither did her weight.

We could all stand to take a page from my friend's book, even if the daily salad for lunch might cause some of us to die of boredom. My friend knew an important secret: vegetables are the foundation of the food pyramid and should form the base for both lunch and dinner. We should think veggies first, then lean protein, and finally, healthy carbohydrates as we create balanced lunch and dinner menus. Many of us, however, do just the opposite-we eat a large bowl of pasta and have a small side salad or greater portion of meat with side servings of rice, potatoes, and veggies. While it's fine to eat some carbs, they should be the smallest, not the largest, part of our meal. In short, we need to reverse the pyramid that we have traditionally favored, with carbs at the bottom and veggies occupying a small slot on the top.

For lunch, it may be easiest to start with salad greens because for working women, this is the easiest and fastest way to transport veggies from home to work. Make sure you add some protein to your salads, though. Think Chef's Salad ingredients: perhaps some sliced meat from the deli, along with some low-fat cheese or a few hard-boiled eggs. The varieties of ingredients that can be added to salad are endless, but definitely include protein in there. It will keep you feeling fuller throughout the afternoon and give you the energy you need to get through the second half of your day. For your carbs, add one slice of multi-grain bread, whole wheat pita or tortilla.

For dinner, start with steamed, roasted, or stir-fried veggies. Add four ounces of lean protein; chicken, fish, or pork are good choices. Then, add a healthy carb, such as one-third of a cup of brown rice, or a half cup of whole wheat pasta or couscous.

Remember the proper food pyramid: veggies at the bottom as a foundation, protein on the next level, carbs at the top of the pyramid in the smallest triangle. For many of us to adhere to this pyramid, we will need to perform a complete reversal of our normal patterns of eating. However, if we emphasize vegetables and de-emphasize carbohydrates, without forgetting our need for protein, we'll feel better, eat healthier and be well on our way to losing the pounds that we seek to shed.

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