When you shop, skip the middle of the store except for canned non-carb vegetables. Make colorful vegetables the star of your plate. If you eat meat, get organic. Eating animals that have been fed growth hormones doesn’t do us any favors. And no protein portions bigger than your fist. If you have to have cookies for the kids, animal crackers, Graham crackers (they come in chocolate!), and ginger snaps are good. Or any kind you don’t like.
Skip desserts and don’t buy sodas. Substitute fruit, yoghurt, or small amounts of organic cheese for dessert, seltzer water with no sweeteners for soda. Get unsweetened iced tea if you’re out. When I’m craving sweets, I have some high-end chocolate chips (10 max), like Ghirardelli.
If you eat out, put half your protein and carbs in a takeout box right away. Eat the rest and all the non-carb vegetables. Add more colorful veggies from home to the takeout box for another meal. Only eat decadent desserts and fattening foods on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or Mother’s Day. Give extra cake away to others so you won’t have a giant slab to tempt you.
I put meals on small plates and eat with small utensils to make it seem like I’m having more, and eat mindfully. When eating food I don’t like as much, I use a big plate or bowl, big utensils, and eat mindlessly while reading or watching TV (big bowl of greens or cauliflower, for instance). Use flavorful herbs and spices instead of butter and cheese. We Americans eat way too much fatty and salty cheese. If you must use cheese, stick to those with lots of flavor like Parmesan/Romano, bleu cheese or very sharp cheddar where a little goes a long way.
Eat whole wheat bread and pasta and brown rice instead of white in small amounts. Use olive oil and herbs/spices on half a baked potato vs. sour cream, cheese, butter and/or bacon, though small amounts of well cooked bacon, like strong cheese, can add a lot of flavor with just a little.
Add mashed cauliflower to mashed potatoes, squash to (whole wheat) mac n cheese, dump frozen mixed vegetables or a bag/box of whole or chopped spinach in anything you’re eating. Salsa is a good, low-cal addition to whatever you’re cooking. Hummous works instead of mayonnaise in lots of things & as a sandwich spread. I double the vegetables and halve the meat & carbs in recipes. I add lots of celery & water chestnuts to my tuna salad, for example. Use unsweetened applesauce or other fruit in your hot cereals or on (whole grain) waffles and pancakes to sweeten them vs butter & syrup.
Don’t Fry stuff in oil/grease. Bake or air fry, and air-popped popcorn is a good snack. Find restaurants with healthy food (Wendy’s salads, KFC pot pies [marginally better], McDonald’s oatmeal, Middle Eastern and Greek restaurants, some Asian dishes with lots of vegetables (save half the rice/noodles/potatoes for later), Cava, Sweetgreen, some Panera selections). Pick frozen yogurt, sherbet, ices or Tofutti instead of ice cream for birthdays. Use tofu instead of cream for creamy soups. As much tea as you want and dry milk and stevia in your coffee unless you take it black.
Once you cut out a lot of sugar you’ll miss it less & less. Colas are addictive, and you’ll lose the cravings after you’ve been off them for a while. When you have Italian food, be sure to have a salad, zucchini, or other vegetables and fruits available for “pizza and movie” night, and fill up on those first. Get cauliflower or whole wheat crust pizza if possible.
Add movement as much as you can. Bike or walk to the store if you can, park further from stores/office so you have to walk further. Do plies while you’re standing at the stove, sit ups or yoga while you’re watching TV.
Walk with a friend, take a movement class, get a mini trampoline, put an exercise machine in front of the TV. I have a rowing machine that I can fall onto in the morning and row until my eyes open. I am so NOT a morning person. I have a sort of sit-up device that hits my lower abdomen (my pooch), and do a few reps whenever. I follow Carmen Brocklehurst doing Tai Chi Ch’ih (find “Joy Through Movement” on You Tube) which is super easy if you’re out of shape, but actually brings results and is easier to follow and remember than regular Tai Chi. Also is a form of meditation and good for your lymph and circulatory systems.
Good luck! It’s good practice for menopause when the pounds creep on quickly.