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Not a diet - your small cooking changes that make a big difference?

What changes have you made in your cooking (tecniques, ingredients, portion control, substitutions), that have made the biggest impact on how you look and feel?

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  1. I would say, two things...

    1) Keeping bread-y things to a minimum (and not using corn-based things as I'm sensitive to that)

    2) Ditching questionable oils but emphasizing olive oil for things that don't require much heat and coconut oil (a little) for things that take high heat. (Not afraid of bacon grease, etc., in small quantities occasionally either.) There are tons of opinions on what fats are worst or best... this is more or less the approach I personally think makes the most sense: (Most of the key info is in the portion that's readable without entering an e-mail address.)
    http://www.mercola.com/2003/oct/15/co...

    1. I would say portion control and multi-dish meals. Instead of cooking a pound of pasta for just the two of us and then proceeding to eat it all in one sitting, I make half a pound of pasta, a large salad and garlic bread. I also make sure when we have meat that we eat smaller portions of meat and more vegetables.

      That, coupled with walking for 45 minutes after dinner, has really helped us both.

      5 Replies
      1. re: SarahEats

        Define please "really helped us both". I am particularly interested in what change(s) the 45 minutes walking has done for you.

        1. re: Spencer

          Well for starters the walking helps us digest our food since we're active and not sedentary. We find we have less heartburn/that full feeling if we walk right after we eat.

          I also read an article recently (can't remember where) that said if you do moderate exercise (such as walking) after you eat you digest food better, keep your blood flowing better, etc. I figure it can't hurt.

          I've also noticed that my legs are more toned due to the walking, which is a nice perk.

          1. re: SarahEats

            Sweet!
            I run for exercise and I can't imagine running after I eat. In fact, I have to have a small lunch just so I can run at 6 or 7pm. You might say I exercise so I can eat :)
            I may try what you do on my none run days and walk right after I eat my evening meal. Thanks for the tip.

            1. re: Spencer

              I exercise so I can eat....well and not have to worry about it. An hour jog a day works wonders, havent gained a pound in years.

              1. re: Spencer

                Ha! Exactly! We also exercise to eat. :)

                I wouldn't dream of doing strenuous exercise after eating so that's why I was so pleased to read that article about walking for 45 minutes after eating to help burn fat/calories and help aid digestion. We see a ton of people in our neighborhood walking after the dinner hour, presumably for the same reasons.

        2. 1.) Substituted non-stick pan spray whenever possible, using small amounts of olive oil only as needed.

          2.) Ditched regular pasta & flour tortillas for whole wheat pasta and whole wheat tortillas. Incorporated more grains like quinoa and couscous as side dishes.

          3.) Family already dislikes chicken skin and fatty cuts of meat, so I focused on leaner cuts of meat.

          4.) Substituted Splenda for sugar in my morning coffee.

          5.) Made non fat dairy my friend. Utilized non fat sour cream and non fat ricotta cheese to create a creamy texture when needed, instead of using butter, cream or full fat cheeses. Used larger amounts of fat free or low fat cheese (gasp!) for cheesy effect and small amounts of full fat cheese for flavor.

          6.) I devote lots of time to making sure my family has good food to eat, but I wasn’t giving myself that same respect. So, I’ve made a point of stocking the house with healthy, lower fat snacks for me, and taking time to make a healthy, interesting brown bag lunch for myself.

          7.) Bringing a salad and two pieces of fruit to work gets me over halfway to my goal of 5-7 fruits and vegetables per day.

          8.) Slowing down and taking time to explore the grocery store has helped me discover new-to-me foods. It’s easy to fall into a routine and just visit the same aisles.

          All of these tweaks and changes to my eating came about as a result of joining Weight Watchers and following the Core plan, which I view not as a diet but as a lifestyle eating approach. I felt like I was eating pretty healthy before, but realized there was room for improvement. Consequently, I did lose 30 pounds in 6 months, but I also feel more energetic, my stamina has improved, my skin is even better than before, my doctor got off my back and I have the joy of knowing that I’m exposing my husband and stepson to a healthy creative way of eating.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Ruby Louise

            I also did WW (pre-Core) and have stuck with it for roughly 4.5 years (in which I've kept off 40 lbs.). Since I'm not doing Core (and I'm a veggie) many of your recs I haven't used. Our approaches are similar.

            I'm all about portion control. I actually never use fat free products (particularly things like FF cream cheese). What I do do, however, is only eat things that contain those products in moderation. I've completely switched (when practicable) to WW products. I try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and drink loads of water everyday.

            1. re: Ruby Louise

              Great ideas, but I do have to add that couscous is like a pasta, and made from semolina flour, not a whole grain.

              1. re: Hoosierland

                except that you can also buy whole wheat couscous

              2. re: Ruby Louise

                Wow, except for using splenda, I do everything you do pretty much. Also, when I bake, I will often use less sugar than what the recipe calls for; though I love and often recommend Epicurious recipes, some of their sugar quantities are just not necessary, like 3 cups of sugar in a quick bread...say WHAT?!?! But the only low-fat cheese I won't buy anymore is mozzarella; gotta be whole milk. And, eating dinner on a small sandwich plate also helps me so I agree on the portion control.

              3. Buy fresh, seasonal fruit every few days at the grocery or farmer's market...fruit feeds a sugar craving in a healthy fashion.

                1. A few things:

                  1. When sauteeing, use 2 tsp of oil. So many recipes call for 1-2 TBS. Totally unnecessary IMO.

                  2. I always used to have a main entree, starch, and veggie. Now instead of the starch, I substitute another veggie with the meal. So I usually have a salad and either a stirfry or steamed veggie with my main dish.

                  3. Ditto on the portion control. I'll plate things in the kitchen, and don't go back for seconds. I'll eat more veggies if I'm hungry, good for you and few calories and pack the rest of dinner for lunch.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Addisonchef

                    You can get than down to 1 tsp. if you use nonstick. I'd also recommend actually measuring that spoonful and not just sloshing some in the pan. One of my friends started doing that and was amazed at how much excesss oil she'd been consuming thinking it was only a tablespoon or so when it was actually double or more.