Taking charge of the calorie content of foods prepared at home.

When losing weight, even on healthy eating plans, the calorie content of foods, can get a little out of control. Even if you eat 90% unprocessed foods, it may not be enough to maximise your weight loss and then to maintain it.

How you prepare things at home can quickly up the calorie content. And even while the calorie content will be lower than eating processed foods, or a lot of high calorie fast foods, you can tend to eat more.

Here are some ways of reducing the calorie content of foods you prepare, and eat at home. You don't need a food calories list...you just need to make some adjustments...and it won't sacrifice the taste.

Cooking and baking...

What are you using to flavour your food, and how much of it are you using?

  • Use herbs, chillis, lemon and lime to add flavour. You can vary the amount depending on what you like. There are so many great flavours in herbs. Add them to vegetables, salads, meats, casseroles. Experiment with different ones. Try picking a new herb every two weeks or so, and combine it with flavours you already like. For example, garlic lemon and parsley are one of our favourites...on just about everything,
  • Reduce the amount of oil you use to brown or cook with. Use half the amount, or even better use the spray oils. Oil in a spray can is a fantastic invention. And non-stick frypans can reduce the amount of foods you need to use fats for at all.
  • Sugar - halve the sugar you add to everything! You won't notice the difference in cakes or baking, and if you give you're taste buds a few weeks to adjust, you won't notice it in on cereals and so on either. In a few weeks you'll actually find you don't like the sugar as much...it's too sweet...great!
  • Check out your sauces. Some mustards, tomato sauces, and condiments are quite high in either fat or sugar. Check the labels and cut down on the amount you use...gradually.
  • In baking use lo-fat or no-fat milk
  • Some meats can be a little dry if you cook them without the fat on...so cook with the fat on...but cut it off and discard it before you put the meat on your plate. If it's not there you can't eat it.
  • Leave the butter and margarine off your sandwiches! Or even off one slice of bread...each slice of bread uses about 5 grams of butter, that's about 45 calories.

Serving up, the next part...

How much are you eating?

  • Everything food related has got bigger...including the plates! How much are you actually putting on the plate. Aim for half a plate of vegetables, quarter of potatoes, pasta or rice (the carbohydrates) and quarter of protein. Use a smaller plate, and resist the urge to pile it higher...you don't need it.
  • Resist the urge to have seconds. This can skyrocket the calorie content of foods consumed at home...usually seconds is of the meat or the potatoes or pasta...Eat slowly, then put your plate away, then go and do something. A walk, ironing, tidying, 20 minutes on the computer even. Then if you think about your stomach and it still says it's hungry...have some fruit...munch an apple, make a small fruit salad, crunch a carrot...but leave the leftovers for tomorrow!
  • Snack on a piece of fruit, or a handful of unsalted nuts while you cook...or at some of the vegetables you're cutting up. You'll feel less hungry at dinner.
  • Leave what you don't need on your plate. Practice asking yourself after every few mouthfuls if you're still hungry. If you're not...don't have any more. No matter how good it tastes, each bite won't make it taste better...in fact, you'll start to feel bloated, and it'll go straight to your hips! And no, it's not wasted, it's wasted if you put it in your mouth...because then you're going to feel guilty and you're going to have to work hard to get it off. It's gone from 'leftovers' to adding to the pounds you already have.

If you pay attention to the calorie content of foods you prepare at home, what sauces you use, how much fat and so on that you use in cooking and preparation, and then make reductions here, you'll be losing weight and getting on the path to a healthier, lighter you.

If then, once you're doing this a lot of the time, focus on the calorie content of foods by paying attention to the quantities you're eating...you'll be fast-tracking yourself to permanent weight loss.

Start now, the very next time you step into the kitchen...what choices will you make differently from five minutes ago? Go on, you can do it.

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