Learning quick tips about shopping, cooking and eating healthier is the best way to start & stay on the right track towards better health. And as the Skinny Chef, it’s been my mission to share this kind of healthy eating and cooking knowledge with you each and every week (more on that later).
Throughout my posts, I’ll share my thoughts, solutions and stories — but more importantly, I invite you to celebrate food and enjoying your favorite meals without guilt or consequences.
Because maintaining a healthy weight, or getting to that healthy weight, is not about dieting.
Rather, it is about celebrating food, about eating the foods that you already love but making them a little (or a lot) healthier, based on how you shop, cook and eat now.
So join over 25,000 people who get free and fresh Skinny Chef knowledge, recipes, inspiration and stories each Tuesday:
OK, if you want to know a little more, here are a few core ideas for healthy eating and a healthier lifestyle.
1 | Does Fat Make You Fat?
Many people have asked me, what about fat? “Does fat make you fat?”
It’s a great question. I know it’s confusing with all the cooking oils and fats on the market to know which one to choose and how much to use.
OK folks, fat is fat, period.
Listen, a little bit of fat isn’t bad for you, it’s actually necessary for many of your bodily functions — and your brain needs to detect a certain amount of fat in your stomach to signal that you’re not hungry any more.
But choose the right kind of fat. As a general guideline, most people should stay under 60-70 grams of unsaturated fat per day, depending on their weight, health issues, age and how active they are. If you can do with less fat, even better.
Fats come in many forms and certain fats can be better for your body than others.
Generally, fats that are liquid at room temperature are better, for example olive oil vs. shortening.
However, no matter what fat you use in the kitchen, get out the measuring spoons before you start cooking. Just to give you an idea of how much fat is in cooking oils: just one tablespoon of olive oil is 14 grams of fat.
Now that we know about cooking fats, know your fat facts when you eat out. Take five minutes to find out what you’re getting in your favorite restaurant or fast food meal — it might be hard to swallow once you see.
With some fast food meals, you could be eating more fat than you should have in an entire day. Over time, that will build up to extra pounds on your body.
2 | Serve It Up Right
I always think of rice pudding when I talk about serving sizes!
Late one evening, my husband was digging into his favorite store-bought tub of rice pudding. I cautioned him on the calories since I knew he’d already had seconds at dinner.
As he spooned the last bite from a huge tub into his mouth, he shrugged and said, “What’s the problem? There’s only 130 calories and 3 grams of fat!”
When I lifted the empty container to his eye level, I pointed out that a serving size was only 1/2 cup and there were 6 servings. He had actually consumed 780 calories and 18 grams of fat in just one snack!
If you’re not sure about the measurements when you’re cooking or snacking, buy yourself a cup measure or guestimate with half a large coffee cup. Read the package when cooking with high-fat products like cheese, some dairy, and pre-packed meats, the serving sizes are smaller.
If you want to know the perfect portion, buy an inexpensive set of measuring cups or a scale until you get the hang of it and then you’ll know at a glance. Most serving sizes are a lot smaller than you think!
3 | Veg Out
Granny wasn’t kidding when she told me that vegetables are the healthiest thing you can put in your body.
“Every meal should be centered around fresh vegetables.“
They are packed with vitamins and minerals that everyone needs, they have high levels of anti-oxidants, and happen to be low in calories, fat, and sodium. Want to stay young, shed a few pounds, or improve your skin tone and color? Eat vegetables!
4 | Lighten Up
You can make a huge difference with your daily fat intake when you substitute full fat products in your fridge with the lighter alternative. Sometimes you can actually cut your daily fat by 50% if it’s something that you eat on a regular basis.
For example, I just love cheese and I eat it almost every day. I got tired of my jeans pinching that extra inch on my waist so I opted for part-skim mozzarella instead of the high fat cheddar I used to snack on. Find out how to give your refrigerator and grocery shopping list a healthy make-over.
5 | Don’t Count Calories!
If you are looking to lose weight, of course you have to watch your fat intake – but calories still count, even though it takes tons of time to count them. How can you limit calories without counting?
Sadly, I am not equipped with a limitless metabolism and I don’t burn tons of extra calories just because I’m in better shape now compared to in my twenties. It’s tough to eat out with my husband when he orders high calories killers like hot dogs, scoops of ice cream, whipped mashed potatoes with heavy cream, sausage, and pasta – all things I avoided in the past, but I have learned to enjoy now.
How do I do it? When I eat out, I order up a plate of my secret weapon, vegetables! I enjoy my super low calorie raw veggies, salad, steamed broccoli with soy, whatever is green and good minus the greasy sauces. I fill up on my veggies first and then indulge in a small scoop of the bad stuff. When I eat at home, I already know that I’ve shopped smart and opted for the healthier versions of all my favorites including chicken dogs, turkey pepperoni, low-fat frozen yogurt – all items that are up to a third of the calories and up to 70% lower in fat!
Yet, I still have my veggies first before digging into a normal portion of the second course. Want another easy way to keep the calories down? Focus on portion size, even if you have to have that big plate of pasta with cream sauce, sticking to the the perfect portion will help to control the calories as well.