Clean Your Pantry: 5 Foods to Toss for Good

shutterstock_258367139-300x207When boredom strikes, your pantry may be one of the first places you turn. But if your pantry is filled with high-calorie, high-fat foods, over time, the scale will tip in the wrong direction. Counter these temptations by tossing the junk food and replacing it with wholesome, nutritional snack options. It’s time to give your pantry a healthy makeover by tossing the following five foods for good!

Baked Goods: It’s time to ditch those lingering holiday treats in your pantry. The refined sugar and saturated fat won’t do your weight loss plan any favors. Keeping a stash of sweets in your cabinet will only tempt you to give into your cravings. And by now, the holiday treats won’t taste fresh, so why waste the calories?

Replace with: Dark chocolate
When your sweet tooth strikes, you don’t have to feel so guilty indulging in dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in anti-inflammatory flavonoids, meaning it has antioxidant properties that help protect your heart. Stick to one serving, which is about a one-inch square, for a healthier alternative to cookies and brownies.

Sugary Cereals: Breakfast is an excellent way to kick-start your day, as long as you eat healthy, energy-boosting foods. Don’t be fooled by a stamp of good health on the box. Read the food label. Some cereals have as much sugar as a candy bar. If it has more than 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (4 to 6 grams) per serving, you should steer clear.

Replace with: Oatmeal
Old-fashioned oatmeal is a five-star breakfast pick. A recent study published by the Harvard School of Public Health found eating more whole grains can reduce your risk of a cardiovascular disease-related mortality by 15 percent. Spice up your oatmeal by adding fresh fruit, peanut butter, or cinnamon.

Microwave Popcorn: While popcorn is accepted as a healthier snack, most microwaveable popcorn is drenched in fat-laden butter, and some of the bags contain chemicals that can hurt your health in the long term.
Replace with: Stove-popped popcorn
Use canola oil to pop your popcorn on the stove and season with salt. If you like an extra kick, throw in some chili powder or hot sauce for a reduced-guilt snack.

Dried Fruit: Not all dried fruit is created equal. The healthier options simply drain the water, making for an excellent on-the-go snack, but others have added preservatives and sugars, making for a less healthy version of its fresh fruit counterpart. Read the nutrition label. A long list of ingredients is a red flag to throw it in the trash.

Replace with: Fresh fruit
An apple a day—you can’t go wrong with fresh fruit to keep you feeling full. Plus, you’ll never get bored with so many fiber-packed options.

Crackers: Crackers may taste good, but they are not the best complement to your favorite dip, lacking in nutritional value. Most brands have very little fiber, so you may eat more to feel satisfied.

Replace with: Fresh vegetables
Satisfy your crunchy craving with fresh vegetables. Carrots and broccoli take on the flavor of any dip and pack a powerful fiber punch!

rfosterClean Your Pantry: 5 Foods to Toss for Good
Read More

4 Tips For Dining Out While Losing Weight

Who would ever think that going to a restaurant could be a stressful event? But for millions of people trying to lose weight, it’s a reality. Between the tantalizing dish options and social fear of being labeled “the dull one” by friends, it takes a lot of willpower to stay on track. Or does it? There are actually a few tricks you can rely on to ensure that you don’t stray from your plan and still have a good time. 

1. Start By Getting Full.

While your dinner companions dive into the bread sticks that usually come before your meal, you can feel satisfaction in having knowledge they don’t. If you start by eating foods with a lot of fiber, like a salad or veggie appetizer, you will wind up eating less overall. Studies have shown eating a low-calorie first course enhances the feeling of fullness and lowers the total number of calories eaten during the meal. Be aware of how much dressing is used on your salad or appetizer. The recommended amount is no more than two tablespoons. To make things easy ask for the dressing in a cup on the side.

2. Stay Away From Sugary Drinks

Try to avoid beverages that contain large amounts of sugar (yes, this means you margaritas). Drinks that are high in sugar are also high in calories, and research from Harvard University found that people who drink sugary beverages do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food. Drink water or unsweetened tea and to avoid the excessive calorie consumption in drinks. If cocktails must be a part of the experience, look for a less sugary option, like wine or beer. And of course always use common sense when consuming alcohol!

3. Contol Your Pasta Portion

Eating at an Italian restaurant? If you decide to go with a pasta dish, be very aware of the portion distortion that often happens at a restaurant. The normal serving size of a cup of pasta is only 220 calories. According to research from New York University, a typical dinner portion of pasta at a restaurant can be 480 percent larger than a cup. That’s over 1,000 calories! Try sharing a plate of pasta or eating half and taking the rest home in a doggy bag. This will help you avoid eating too many calories at once and save money on the bill!

4. Make Healthy Swaps

The side dishes that come with your main course can be switched for healthier alternatives that pack a high nutritional punch without taking away from the overall meal experience. For instance, if your dish comes with white bread or rice, ask the waiter for brown rice or whole-grain bread. Swap out French fries for steamed vegetables. Just like your starter salad or vegetable appetizer, these friendly swaps will make you feel fuller faster due to their high fiber content. So don’t be afraid to ask the server questions about the options available to substitute into your meal.

The last important thing to remember about eating out is this: if you feel like you succumbed to temptation and “slipped up,” don’t beat yourself up. You have the confidence and information to know how to correct your course if you veer off path. It happens to the best of us every now and then. That’s life, so embrace every second of it!

rfoster4 Tips For Dining Out While Losing Weight
Read More

Health Food Imposters

hfiHave you ever thought to yourself, “Is the food I’m eating really as healthy as others claim?” Some foods are packaged to look like they’re good for you when in fact they’re anything but. For those trying to lose weight, here are some health food imposters to watch out for while grocery shopping:

Granola. Granola has long held a reputation for being healthy. It evokes an image of rosy-cheeked hikers exploring the great outdoors. In everyday life, it has become a breakfast or snack staple, as well as a popular topping for yogurt. The problem with granola is that many store-bought brands are made with sugary sweeteners, fillers, and palm and hydrogenated oils that are potentially unhealthy. Did you know a one-cup serving of a typical homemade granola could have as many as 600 calories? While granola does contain some wholesome ingredients like rolled oat, an excessive amount can turn what you thought was a healthy meal into a surplus of calories from sugar, which the body stores as fat. If you absolutely can’t part with granola, limit consumption to a quarter cup and always read the labels on granola products.

Smoothies and Fruit Juices. Fruit smoothies are all the rage. They seem to be a required accessory for anyone wearing yoga pants or spandex. But smoothies can cause trouble if the main ingredient is fruit juice. But wait…Doctors are always telling us to add more fruits to our daily diet, so how can something with fruit be unhealthy? The difference is that fruit juice lacks the fiber contained in solid fruits. Fiber makes us consume at a slower rate and feel fuller faster. Without the fiber, the liquid calories in fruit juice make it much easier to consume an excessive number of calories (some smoothies can have as many as 800 calories depending on size and ingredients). And that’s not even the worst part about fruit juice. If you look at most store-bought fruit juice nutrition labels, you’ll notice that sugar (in its various forms) and artificial flavors are front and center. Natural fruit juice is actually a small percentage of the product. So check the ingredients in that fruit smoothie first. You might also want to consider trying a vegetable-based smoothie. Vegetable-based smoothies are a healthier option and contain far fewer calories and less sugar.

Fat-Free Foods. Many products found in the supermarket come in a “fat-free” variety. For those with weight loss goals, naturally the fat-free products seem to be the most logical choice. But don’t be fooled. When the fat is removed from these foods, it is often replaced with a higher percentage of sugar and artificial fat substitutes to compensate for a loss of flavor. At the end of the day, we wind up consuming a higher number of sugar-laden empty calories with fat-free foods simply because we believe we are allowed to. We also physically feel less full with these foods, and may be unknowingly enabling a sugar addiction. When fat-free food dominated the packaged food industry in the 1990s, it did a huge disservice to the nutritional value of fats. We’ve heard it before, but it is very true. There are “good fats” (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and “bad fats” (trans fats and saturated fats) The American Heart Association recommends 30 percent of your diet come from good fats. When purchasing fat-free products, check the nutrition label to make sure that it has fewer calories than the regular version and that it isn’t packed with sugars.

Dried Fruits and Nut Mixes. Some dried fruits and nut mixes are great sources of fiber, vitamins, proteins, and healthy fats. The problem is that many store-bought versions coat the fruits with sugar and the nuts with salt. Some brands of trail mix are also packed with flavors from shredded coconut and chocolate, both high in calories. Just a handful of trail mix can easily have over 300 calories. It’s hard to stop at just a handful when the sweet/salty taste of the nuts, fruits, and other flavors complement each other so well. Choose the healthier alternative by buying unsalted nuts and unsweetened dried fruits for your snack. But be sure to watch your portions to stay within your daily calorie limit.

Diet Soda. We’ve all heard about the studies that link the consumption of soda to obesity. So it would seem a wise choice to turn to the zero-calorie, zero-sugar diet soda alternative. Right? Wrong! Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners, which send signals to the brain that very closely resemble that of natural sugar. That means that the brain responds to the “sweet” signal by telling the body to crave more sweet foods and drinks. But because the brain is receiving the “sweet” signal without the calories, this may cause us to actually consume an even higher number of calories to satisfy our cravings. In fact, research has shown that people who consumed diet soda versus those who did not had a 47% higher increase in BMI after eight year of consumption. There is evidence that diet soda might be useful in the short-term to wean regular soda drinkers off the sugary stuff, but it should not become an every day part of a healthy diet. If you’re looking for refreshment, good old H2O is your best bet.

Developing a curiosity for food’s health benefits will help you to avoid making choices that don’t support your health and weight loss goals. Don’t let your body suffer because of clever packaging, wording, or public misconceptions. Remember, facts are your friends! Always read the nutrition labels on packaged foods to determine if what you’re eating is the real thing or a knock-off that can set you back.

rfosterHealth Food Imposters
Read More

Use Grocery Lists In Your Weight Loss Game Plan

Going grocery shopping while following a weight loss program can be a lot like playing in a football game. You’re the quarterback and you need to end the play with food selections that will help you reach your goal weight. But there’s a defensive line standing in your way in the form of aisles of tempting, unhealthy food. Without a good game plan, it will be harder to reach the goal line.

Think of your simple grocery list as part of that plan. If you call the right plays (that is, list the right types of food) before you step onto the field, you’re more likely to win the game and see weight loss results.

Research has shown links between shopping with a grocery list and improved diets with healthier weights. For example, a recent study in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that those who regularly made a grocery list before going food shopping had a healthier weight than those who didn’t make a list. The study surveyed over 1300 participants, of whom nearly 80 percent were either overweight or obese. At the end of the study period, it was the grocery list-makers who weighed an average of five pounds less than those without a list.

One of the reasons why a grocery list might support weight loss is because it may serve as a good tool to control impulse buying. Supermarkets conveniently place dessert displays at the end of the aisle and sweets by the checkout counter to tempt shoppers. A list may be able to keep you more focused, because you’ll know exactly what you need to buy before you walk in. If you just select items based on what you see walking through the aisles, you run a greater risk of putting enticing junk foods into your cart.

So the next time you need to make a trip to the supermarket, take a few minutes to huddle up with the family to create your game plan. And if you need help determining which foods belong in the plan, just talk to a weight loss medical professional who can help you sketch it out. Remember, even though you’re the quarterback, you can lean on your team for help getting to your goal. That is the end game after all.

rfosterUse Grocery Lists In Your Weight Loss Game Plan
Read More

Grilled Southwestern Burgers with Onions

Summer barbecues are a perfect time to try this healthier version of a traditional burger with “onion rings” – so good you won’t miss the hamburgers of old, and a nice choice if you are following CMWL modified plan. This grill-time favorite — Grilled Southwestern Burgers — look, smell, and taste great without causing too much fuss. Making these delicious burgers does not require a lot of kitchen accessories or ingredients, and doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to grill up. Adding this to your cookout repertoire is great, but including this to your meal plan is going to be awesome!

How to Make the Grilled SW Burger

Servings: 4
Estimated Total Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Calories per Serving: 541
Total Protein per Serving: 41 grams
Total Carbs per Serving: 55 grams
Total Fat per Serving: 17 grams
Saturated Fat per Serving: 5 grams
Total Fiber per Serving: 4 grams


1 lbs 95% lean ground beef, preferably grass-fed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp seasoning salt
1 tsp of your favorite hot sauce
1 cup of sliced onions
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
4 whole-grain hamburger rolls (approx 1.5 oz each)
1 cup store-bought coleslaw


Grilling your delicious Southwestern Burgers is as easy as 1,2,3:

  1. Preheat grill. Combine beef, jalapeno, salt, and hot sauce. Once mixed, form four patties and place on grill. Cook to your desired temperature (Rare, Medium Rare, Medium, Well-Done), flipping only once to maintain the richest and healthiest flavor.
  2. While burgers are grilling, preheat a saucepan on medium and coat the pan with cooking spray. Once prepped, add onions and black pepper. Cook the onions until they begin to brown, and then add some your favorite barbecue sauce in with the onions. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until the burger patties are ready.
  3. Split the hamburger rolls and arrange them on a plate. Once the burger patties are done, place a beef patty on the bottom of each bun. Top the patty with your barbecue/onion mix then add a cup of coleslaw. Finish up by placing the top bun on each burger and enjoy your fresh, homemade Grilled Southwestern Burger with Onions.


— Doctor For Life

emagoGrilled Southwestern Burgers with Onions
Read More