As we are in the final weeks of the countdown to Trinidad Carnival 2012, we enter the make-or-break stage of any weight loss and health improvement plan. A lot of the work that you have done over the past weeks and months can be done as you become overwhelmed with the excitement of the season and last minute planning. Things get harder still if you venture down to Trinidad weeks in advance to really soak in the many events and spend time with family and friends.
Love, in the Caribbean, is shown with food.
Family shows you love by feeding you and you show love for the country (and time off) by eating food. You should enjoy food and sample as much as possible especially when you have not been able to have it for quite a while. However, there are 5 simple rules to follow to keep yourself in check and on track.
1. Remove/Reduce drink calories from your diet ~
Try to keep your drink calories under 100 per serving unless you are taking in the lower calorie options. Dilute juices that are not from concentrate and avoid smoothies, sodas, alcohol or shakes. Popular juices such as orange, pineapple and grape actually have high sugar contents. Passion fruit and guava juices often have a lot of added sugar to counteract any tangy flavor. Safer alternatives include pure coconut water or ones with added puree or a little cane sugar, vegetables juices, green and jasmine tea, and unsweetened herbal tea such as hibiscus and ceresee. Try licorice tea for a “sweet” flavor with no added sugar.
2. Pack-A-Snack ~
Avoid hunger pangs and heavy meals by snacking on small healthy food every 2-3 hours. Try such popular options as nuts (pistacchio, almonds, and peanuts), dried berries (golgi, raisins, governor plums), and sliced veggies (cucumber, celery, callaloo). Protein packed snacks like yogurt, split channa/chick peas, and pepper shrimp. Side orders of ital stew, Trini callaloo and a small patty can also keep you till your next meal. Here are other healthy snack options.
3. Reduce Your Portions ~
Use smaller containers, plates, glasses, & utensils to keep portions that are like a tapa or appetizer. This is one of the most powerful ways of slimming down that takes little effort. Even if you do not change the content of your meals, simply choosing smaller sizes can have a profound influence on your intake and produce results. When eating at home, try to always sit down for your meal and use your salad plate, smaller mugs and glasses and even salad forks and desert spoons. Using smaller utensils offer more bites and make you feel like your meal is more substantial. When ordering out, stick to value menu options and junior portions. Order a small drink and a water instead of a medium or large and skip the sides like fries or potatoes.
4. Choose healthier carbohydrates ~
Try eating whole grain, ground provision and vegetable carbs earlier in the day. Carbohydrates – both refined and complex, whole grains – will be broken down into sugars in the body. Consuming these earlier in the day allows you more time to burn the energy and use it when you are most active. Opt for carbohydrates from whole grains and complex sources such as bulgar, brown rice, and quinoa. Ground provision provides high-fiber sources of healthy carbohydrates including cassava, eddoes, yellow yam, and grey sweet potato.
5. Choose fish or lean meats (and hold the gravy) ~
Sticking to vegan or vegetarian options is the easiest way to reduce your caloric intake but even some vegetarian options can be made of processed products and chemicals. When selecting meats or fish to eat some are better than others. Wild fishes are the healthiest options and are packed with omega fatty acids. Farmed options are cheaper but the skin and flesh may be contaminated with mercury and other chemicals from poor farming conditions. Try using the white meat of the turkey or chicken and always take off the skin. Eye of round and filet mignon are lean cuts of meat and you can also get thinly sliced options in your grocery. If you eat pork, select canadian bacon and steak cuts over regular bacon with strips of fat. When preparing, try to keep the meat away from the oils they produce and pack them with flavorful dry rubs and green seasoning instead of traditional gravies. Try eating meat on only 4 days out of the week and start your week with a Meatless Monday.