Keep on Track with your Healthy Diet with these Ideas for Snacks
It can be very difficult to keep on track with your healthy diet and often the biggest blow-out is caused by the snacks we eat. Some snacks have as many calories as a full meal and the food is often high in salt, saturated fat and sugar. Before you know it, you are hungry again and reaching for another packet of chips. This post will give you some healthy snack ideas that are easy to prepare.
I have put together a list of snacks which are filling, nutritious and healthy. Snacking on each of these options will improve your diet, rather than detract from it.
This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure.
This article will explain the relationship between waist size and your general health. Why your waist measurement matters, and how reducing it will improve your overall health.
According to research, reducing the size of your waist to a healthy size will increase your longevity. Other benefits are that it will reduce your risk for other diseases, such as dislipidemia, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Even if you are relatively smaller everywhere else on your body, the increased weight around your waist will still lead to other health problems.
My Own Health Concerns
One of my biggest concerns with my weight was my waist circumference. My waist measured 109cm (42 inches) when I started on my weight loss journey. This put me at a much higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. An ideal waist measurement for women is 88cm (35 inches) or less, and men is 102cm (40 inches) or less. Anything above this is classed as abdominal obesity.
All the extra weight I was carrying was fat, which was surrounding all my vital organs like my heart, liver and pancreas. I had been taking blood pressure medication for a couple of years, and for my cholesterol for at least 6 years. This meant my body was already showing signs of issues caused by this excess fat around my abdomen.
How to Measure Your Waist Size
Along with wanting to lose weight, I was desperate to reduce the size of my waist to prevent any other health issues. I started measuring my waist, hips, bust, thighs and upper arms along with weighing myself 2 – 3 times a week. I used a Body Fat Calculator to assess this. My body fat percentage a year ago was 43.3% which is very high. Now it is around 28% and in the healthy range for my age.
I have found that taking those measurements is more incentive to than just weighing on the scales alone is. Some days I’m quite bloated with my waist ranging between 84cm on a good day to 88cm on a bad day! The “bad day” is usually from working night shifts or having a day or two of eating and drinking unhealthy food. I accept that we all need a day or two like that occasionally.
Image credit for feature photo: Pixabay on Pexel
If you are interested in starting to do the same measurements, there’s a great website called Calculator.net. It has a number of health and fitness calculators that are easy to use, including a Body Fat Calculator. If you don’t want to go to that much trouble, try writing down your waist measurement and weight once or twice a week.
Gauging Your Waist Size by How Your Clothes Fit
The way your clothes fit will also be a good way to gauge whether you’re losing weight off your waist. I’ve had to totally replace my whole wardrobe twice in the last year, down to my underwear! It’s so rewarding to be able to see the results, and know that I’ve improved my health by reducing my waist size.
Another benefit of reducing your waist size is that clothes fit better! I always found it really hard to find clothes that fitted my apple shaped body and was always trying to hide my belly with tunics etc. It’s now so much easier to find clothes that fit, and my body has a better figure. (not quite an hourglass shape though!)
Cut out all sugar, especially drinks that have been sweetened. A high intake of sugar leads to the liver getting overloaded, resulting in insulin resistance. Your body can’t cope with so much sugar (fructose) and stores it as fat in your abdomen and liver.
Increase your protein intake, because this reduces cravings and boosts your metabolism. High quality protein is important, such as that found in eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, seafood, meat and high quality protein supplements (whey powder).
Cut carbohydrates, particularly highly refined ones found in cakes, sweets and white bread. Some people cut carbs drastically leading to ketosis (the popular keto diet) which reduces your appetite and leads to rapid weight loss. My brother has done really well on this diet, while I found just dropping all the rubbish like lollies, cakes, muffins etc. was enough for me to be effective. I find that if I have any of those foods now I get a migraine. That just proves to me that this type of food is bad for my health.
Eat food high in fibre, particularly vegetables. This helps to fill you up, and aids digestion. One of the most effective steps I took was to amp up my vegetable intake, replacing a lot of the carbs with vegetables. Vegetables contain plenty of vitamins and minerals which also help our health and well-being. Other food sources of fibre include fruit, cereals and legumes. Adding a fibre supplement like Metamucil would be effective as well.
Exercise, in particular aerobic exercise such as walking, running, swimming and cycling. Spot exercises like sit-ups do not work! Improving your core muscle strength will help you overall but it might not necessarily reduce your waist size unless you are doing aerobic exercise. I can’t do heavy exercise but I have found that regular walking has been effective for me.
Count your calories using a macro counter. I use an App on my phone to record everything I eat. From there I can see my macros (percentage of protein, carbs and fat), and calorie intake. I try to keep to between 1500 – 1800 Kcal per day, and make sure my calories in is lower than my calories out. Even though my weight has been stable for months I still track my intake because I find it helps me stay accountable to my health goals.
My healthy lifestyle blog has been my biggest achievement this year (apart from losing 17kg!). I’ve really enjoyed writing about a topic that I’m passionate about. The hardest part is the self promotion which goes against my introverted nature but it’s vital to gain followers if I want people to read my articles. I would like to share my top posts 2019 with my readers.
Read them now to gain some inspiration! Live your healthiest year in 2020.
Thanks to everyone who has read, followed, liked and shared my posts across WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter! I really appreciate your support and all the comments, likes and shares. It keeps me motivated to write more. Please let me know what your favourite article was.
This guide will give you examples of unattainable versus attainable goals. It will guide you to make goals that you will stick to and achieve. The key is to make the goals achievable so that you maintain motivation.
The first month of every year is commonly used to set some New Years’ Resolutions. We start the new year afresh with lofty plans to lose weight, get fit and give up smoking or other vices. But often these plans go out the window by the end of January, leaving us feeling defeated and a failure. This sets us up for failure and we often lack motivation to start a new goal for the rest of the year. How do we avoid this?
Set Goals that are Attainable
Many goals and resolutions fail because they are unrealistic, too broad, and unattainable. Let’s look at the goal “to lose weight” for example. Lose how much weight? By when – next week, next month, next year? How will you achieve it? None of those questions are answered in the broad statement “I will lose weight”. You need a plan, and to set a goal that is realistic.
An unrealistic goal would be to lose 20kg by March. You would be likely to start with enthusiasm, go on a fad diet and starve yourself. It will fail because diet regimes that lose weight quickly are too restrictive, cutting out important nutrients and are unable to be sustained long term. You’ll feel deprived, have cravings, and will want to “cheat” on your diet. As soon as you stop dieting, the weight will pile back on because your body has slowed its metabolism down to cope with the reduced number of calories. As soon as you plateau or fail to lose weight you’ll give up because it’s setting you up for failure by being too hard to stick to. This can be avoided if you set realistic goals.
Unattainable vs. Attainable
How I will achieve it
lose 20 kg by March
lose 3kg by March then reassess goal
Use a smaller plate, cut out sugar in drinks, eat fruit instead of a muffin at morning tea
Get fit by walking 5km every day
Start by walking 2km daily and build it up to 5km by March
Walk on my lunch break, park my car further away
Lose 20cm off my waist
Lose 3cm off my waist by Easter then reassess goal
Eat a salad at lunch instead of pasta, use the stairs at work instead of the lift
Join a gym
Sign up for a trial at a gym with no ongoing commitment
Go to a gym at least 3 times to see if it’s the right one for me before committing to it
Give up smoking
Cut down over 2 weeks then give up smoking
Use nicotine replacement therapy, sign up to a Quit support service
Unattainable Goals vs Attainable Goals
The difference between unattainable goals and attainable goals is that you are cutting the goals down to achievable amounts, setting time frames, and planning out exactly how you will achieve them. You are setting yourself up to succeed by not biting off more than you can chew.
Achieving my Goal of Losing Weight
When I first started on the Get Healthy Program the amount of weight I needed to lose seemed like an unachievable goal. I was doubtful of being able to not only lose 10 or more kilograms, but also lose 10cm or more off my waist. My confidence was low, and I was skeptical of the program because I hadn’t succeeded on any program in the past. I could usually lose the weight easily but I always felt restricted on a diet and as soon as I went off it I packed the weight back on. My coach helped me to set small, realistic goals to achieve and as I reached each milestone, my confidence grew. I kept moving the goal posts and slowly I lost 5kg, 10kg, 15kg … eventually 17kg and it’s stayed off for over 6 months now.
More important to me was the goal of losing centimeters off my waist. My waist circumference was 105cm when I started which would predispose me to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This concerned me more than anything. My goal was to get down to 88cm which would put me in a much healthier range but I was eventually to lose 20cm! By changing my diet to include more vegetables and less red meat and sugary food, I was able to achieve my goal.
Break Large Goals into Smaller Components
Realistic goals are ones you break down into smaller components. Start with small goals and as you reach them, set bigger goals. Your confidence will grow with each milestone, setting you up for success. Because you’re starting with small changes to your habits, you’re likely to incorporate them into your daily lifestyle. For example, parking further away and taking the stairs are easy ways to increase your step count whereas running 5km per day or joining a gym would be harder to incorporate into your life and your enthusiasm may soon die out with the sudden burst of energy when they cause muscle aches and pains.
Define Your Success
Define your success. What is the end goal and how will you know when you are there? My success was getting down to the weight that I am, and maintaining that weight-loss for 6 months or more. I will stay within 3 kg of this weight and not go up in size in my clothes.
What is your definition of success and how will you achieve it in 2020? It’s a new decade and a great starting point to setting some goals for yourself that are achievable.
My weight loss journey has been a battle over the years. The urge to start writing this blog was because I finally succeeded in losing weight and keeping it off. The difference this time is that my weight didn’t bounce straight back up when I completed the program I was on. I’ve always been interested in promoting a healthy lifestyle through my nursing career. Now I want to help other people towards health through this medium. My weight is now in the healthy range for my age, and I plan to stay at this weight.
I was painfully thin as a child. I didn’t start to gain weight until after having children in my mid 20’s. My weight was still within a normal range until my 40’s. Medications, health issues and grieving all contributed to weight gain. This weight gain escalated after menopause. The battle to remain a healthy weight intensified with chronic back pain and a congenital heart defect.
My Previous Attempts at Weight Loss Were Unsuccessful
Fad diets, especially elimination diets, aren’t successful in the long run because you start craving all the things you can’t have. Whenever I’ve tried a “diet” such as Weight Watchers or Lite n Easy, I’ve been able to lose the weight easily enough. But I’ve always craved things and felt really restricted. So as soon as I stop the diet I put on all the weight plus more! By being able to control my own diet in a healthy way, my efforts to lose weight have succeeded.
Adjusting My Diet Led to Success
The program I was on taught me how to choose food that is lower in calories while being nutritious and filling. This new way allows me to choose my own food so I don’t have to eat food I don’t like. I don’t restrict myself to eating only low fat, low carbohydrate, or low calorie and I don’t give up whole food groups like a lot of diets do. I automatically pick food that fills me up and doesn’t have too many calories, like a big salad. Extra flavour and texture is included like feta cheese, olives, snow peas and roast beetroot, so it’s interesting to my palate. The beauty of it is that you can choose what you like. If you don’t like olives but you love nuts, you can swap them out.
A few weekends ago I packed up a large box of clothes that I no longer fit. Some of them are brand new because I had bought a lot of clothes thinking I would get to a certain weight and that would be it, but I just kept on losing weight. During this weight loss journey I’ve gone down about 3 sizes. It starts to get expensive when you have to replace your whole wardrobe twice in a year! But I am proud of what I’ve achieved and I do feel much better at this weight.
Why do I feel weird when people compliment me on my weight loss?
I don’t like getting all that attention, but people are constantly telling me I’ve lost more weight. Even though I’ve been pretty steady for the last few months. They ask how I did it and probably expect me to name a fad diet or gastric bypass or something. When I told them I count calories and cut my portions down they seem disappointed! I think people want to know that there is a foolproof way, or an easy way to lose weight.
I Want to Inspire Other People to Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Because I have had a history of yo-yo weight since I was in my 20’s, it is now my goal to help other people to achieve the success I have had. My weight loss journey is the drive behind me starting this blog, so that I can help other people to live a healthy lifestyle in their 40’s, 50’s and beyond. It is not a “diet”, but it is a change towards living your best life with a little advice on how to achieve it. I don’t have all the answers, but I may be able to help in some way.
What I won’t be able to help you with is information on beauty products, anti aging treatments such as fillers and injectables, and supplements designed for weight loss. I’m no expert on fitness and exercise regimes either. There are lots of other people who are! As I have said before, I did not go to a gym. My sole exercise is walking the dogs nearly every day.
If you would like information on anything specific, please comment, and share this post as well! If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy:
One of the hardest times to keep on track with our health goals is during the holiday season – Christmas and New Year, up to Australia Day at the end of January and even up to Easter. In the US and Canada, Thanksgiving Day in November is the start of the holiday season. Summer in the Southern Hemisphere is a time of beach, school holidays, barbecues and celebrations, while winter in the Northern Hemisphere is a time for hearty meals, staying indoors in front of the fire and eggnog!
It has to be the most challenging time of the year for people trying to keep to their health goals. This post will discuss some of the ways you can manage temptations during special events. It will also help you to prepare some strategies before the holiday season.
How to Manage Temptations at Events
If you are having a celebratory meal or gathering of any kind, inevitably the menu includes food that is high in calories and alcohol, and wouldn’t be normally in your day to day diet. Some suggestions to deal with these situations are:
Take your own platter with healthy food to share. This is my number one way of dealing with these situations! Try using my recipes for a savoury and sweet grazing platter – or combine both for a really interesting platter
Eat a small portion of the food on offer
Drink water in between each alcoholic drink
Take your own beverages
If you don’t want to drink alcohol but feel pressured to, order a drink that looks like an alcoholic drink e.g. mocktail, lemon lime and bitters or soda water. I’m a fan of Kombucha which is really refreshing and doesn’t include many calories.
Drink less high calorie alcoholic drinks like a wine spritzer or vodka and soda water. There are low carbohydrate beers and diet mixers as well
Order a salad with the dressing on the side. Salads are often covered in dressing in restaurants and that is where all the calories are
Many restaurants list how many calories or kilojoules are in their food. Some of them even publish it online so you can research the venue before you go.
Don’t go to an event with an empty stomach
Don’t order a 3 course meal. Just a main meal is usually ample. My husband and I share an appetiser or dessert if we really feel like another course
Don’t stand near the buffet! Take a small plateful and walk away
Space out your meal. Give your body time to feel full. Only eat until you start to feel the signals that you’ve had enough
Having said that, if I know that I’m about to blow my calorie allowance for the day, I plan for it in advance and eat lightly for the rest of the day. A small breakfast and a salad for lunch counterbalances a blow-out for tea.
Learn to be assertive and say “no thank you” when offered food. This was always a challenge to me but I’m getting better at asserting myself
Accept that some situations are going to be out of your control. If you’re eating to plan during the rest of the week a day of overeating is not going to affect you long term.
Enjoy that blow-out meal! You deserve it.
Don’t neglect your exercise regime during holiday periods. You will feel so much better if you exercise on days that you’re consuming a large number of calories. Even a walk in the morning before an event will help
Try to make celebrations around activities rather than just feasting and getting drunk. Do something active like a picnic at the beach or a bush-walk. Even active party games can take the focus off eating and drinking. Have a game of cricket after Christmas lunch!
I hope these suggestions will help you to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season. The most important thing is to prepare beforehand. Acknowledge that sometimes eating unhealthy food can’t be avoided. In that case, enjoy the meal and get back on track the next day.
Survival guide for the Holiday Season
This is perhaps the busiest time of the year for most people. Stress starts to build as we head towards the major events of the year. This year has already been stressful for most people so the holiday season will leave us even more frazzled.
Even if you love all the celebrations, the added toll you put on your body with parties will lead to fatigue. Many people end up stressed and broke at the end of the holiday – they feel like they need a holiday to get over the holidays!
Think of all the upcoming events you and your family will have in the next few weeks and months:
School – Exams, Graduation, Formal and then Back to School;
Work – Completing projects, End of Year Parties. Some industries are heading into their busiest time, e.g. retail;
Events – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year.
An offer for you: free e-book
Survival Guide for the Holiday Season
My Survival Guide for the Holiday Season will help you stay healthy during this busy time. You will get:
A guide to healthy eating, self care and exercise;
A planner to guide you to set goals for staying healthy;
Weekly trackers – checklists to keep you on track.
Sign up now to receive this survival guide completely free. It will help you to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season. More details at the link.
If my readers have some other solutions on how to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season, please share them in the comments. I would love to know how you deal with social events and the “silly” season.
Eating more vegetables every day is a sure way to improve your health by filling you up (more fibre) and providing essential vitamins to aid your body in maintaining vital functions. We should all be eating 5 – 6 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit a day. Some people struggle to eat vegetables because of past experiences with badly cooked vegetables or lack of knowledge of how to prepare them. That is why I have put together this list of ways to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet.
A serve of vegetables is about 75g or:
1/2 cup cooked green or orange vegetables, e.g. broccoli, spinach, carrots
1/2 cup cooked beans, peas or lentils
1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
1/2 cup sweet corn
1/2 medium potato, sweet potato, taro or other starchy vegetable
1 medium tomato
Depending on the vegetable and the cooking method, a standard serve of vegetables is only 100 – 350kJ (24 – 84kCal). Compared to a small ham sandwich (approx. 271kCal), a meat pie (445kCal) or a Big Mac from McDonalds (520kCal), a large salad will only set you back 50 – 200 kCal depending on the ingredients. Eating a diet that includes plenty of vegetables is essential for healthy weight control. One of my strategies to lose weight was to increase the number of serves of vegetables. I credit that one dietary change for most of my successful weight loss.
Here are some ways to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet:
A smoothie with vegetables e.g. spinach, kale, carrot, zucchini, beetroot. Try my Blueberry Smoothie recipe
Load other meals such as stews, bolognese, and pasta bakes with vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, carrots etc. If you have fussy eaters in the family, try grating carrots, zucchini etc. so that they’re barely visible
Sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, cucumber etc. and meat or cheese.
Mexican food like tacos, burritos, nachos can be loaded with legumes such as kidney beans. We have grated carrots, shredded lettuce, corn, tomatoes and guacamole on ours as well
Try having a meatless day at least once a week. There are so many options for vegetarian recipes online these days that it’s not difficult to think up ideas for meatless days
Carrot or celery sticks with hummus
Add spinach or grilled tomato or mushrooms to your breakfast, e.g. in an omelette
Potato or sweet potato wedges with tomato salsa
Potato salad or bake
Make or buy zucchini noodles to use instead of pasta.
Vegetables don’t necessarily have to be fresh. Frozen, canned and dried (legumes like beans or lentils) are all an excellent option. In our supermarkets we can buy vegetables pre-cut and ready to cook which is a great time-saving idea. I prefer to steam most of my vegetables in the microwave for a couple of minutes, or stir fry them. This retains the crispness and flavour.
These are just some of the ways you can incorporate vegetables into your diet. I’d love to hear from you some other ideas because I’m always interested in healthy options! If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy Why Your Waist Measurement Matters.
This article is about getting support with healthy lifestyle choices. When starting out on your journey of self improvement, whether it is for weight loss, improving fitness, learning to cook or another healthy lifestyle choice, reach out for the support of others. Healthy habits are easier achieve when you have the support of others
The reason why I was able to succeed in losing 17kg this time as apposed to all the other times I’ve tried, is because I had support. Firstly, I was part of a program that matched me up with a coach. I was able to choose out of a dietician or an exercise coach, and I chose a dietician. Secondly, my brother was also on a journey to lose weight and we have supported each other through this.
Why you need Professional advice
Having professional advice regarding my diet was a game changer for me. Even though I’m a Registered Nurse with a background in health, I really had no idea about a healthy diet. I learned so much from the dietician, in particular the dietary requirements for over 50’s are a lot different than a younger person. She gave me advice about incorporating more vegetables into my diet, and cooking food in a healthier way. I would definitely recommend that you consult a dietician because they are experts in nutrition and weight loss, and are trained to be your coach.
So many times I felt like giving up, but I felt accountable to my coach. She would phone me every three weeks and was so positive and encouraging that I felt I couldn’t let her down. I’d hear her voice in my head urging me to walk up those flights of stairs even when my feet were aching and I was breathing like a steam train! My successful weight loss is mostly due to that constant support – when I felt like giving up and was full of self doubt, she pulled me through and gave me the confidence to succeed.
Support from non-professionals
Every time my brother and I spoke on the phone it was the same kind of encouragement. We gave each other advice and praised each other’s achievements. I wouldn’t have stuck to it if it weren’t for those two people. My brother used the keto diet and intermittent fasting to achieve his weight loss. We acknowledged that we could still support each other even though we were using vastly different ways to lose weight. No one method suits everyone, and that is another key reason why consulting a dietician is important.
I also had encouragement from a few of my work colleagues which was really lovely. Only a few people at work knew I was trying to lose weight. It actually took months for anyone to notice – I had already lost 10kg before people really noticed the weight loss! I thought it was funny how unobservant a lot of people are. Getting that praise boosted my self esteem, and made me so much more confident in myself.
Find Support Where You Can
My dogs have been great motivators as well because they are border collies who need walking no matter what. If you’re not lucky enough to own a dog, try buddying up with a friend for regular walks. If you normally meet for coffee, try get it to takeaway and drink while you have a stroll.
So my message today is, get support, even if you have to pay a professional or join a program. Lack of money or time? Find a Facebook group or online community that is based on weight loss, exercise, or whatever your area of self improvement is. It’ll make a huge difference.
I have found the following resources helpful and they are mostly free:
The first port of call should be your GP. Any weight loss or healthy lifestyle program should only be started after consulting your own doctor. Please read my Disclaimer here – this website is for informational purposes only.
For more inspirational articles on living a healthy life, read the following:
Many people feel daunted by the prospect of getting healthier because the goal seems so hard to achieve. For me, I wanted to lose 10kg. I thought that goal was going to be impossible to achieve. It came down to breaking a bad habit. Just change one habit at a time as this will lead to more success. Small changes in your habits can lead to big outcomes.
I had noticed that the common thing for the slimmest people I knew, was that they ate salad for lunch. One of my colleagues brought a massive salad to work – the size was like a family sized amount to me – and she was really slim. My lunch consisted of sandwiches, a large muffin, a full sized yoghurt and some fruit! So I started by eating a large salad at lunchtime instead. That one habit change meant I swapped a meal consisting of high calories, with one that had healthy vegetables and was only around 150 Calories.
Swap an Unhealthy Habit with a Healthy One
Changing any unhealthy habits, including weight loss, stopping smoking, or reducing alcohol intake, begins with one habit. My one habit was swapping out my lunch with a healthier option. One of my relatives changed drinking beer with a vodka and soda and started losing weight. To stop smoking, many people stop the habit that they do along with the smoking. For example, if they normally drink coffee and have a smoke, they stop drinking coffee and that can help them stop smoking because there isn’t that trigger anymore.
New habits can be gained as well. I started walking up the 4 or 5 flights of stairs at work. At the beginning I could barely breathe at the end of it and my heart was racing for the next 15 minutes. Over time I have improved my stamina, to the point that my husband and I could walk up to 19000 steps a day on our recent holiday to Japan, and climb Mt. Mison while we were there.
So if it seems too hard at the beginning, start by just changing one habit. Start a new healthy habit by swapping one thing with another. It can lead to other changes and the end goal will become that much easier to achieve.
Small Changes You Can Make Today
Some examples of small changes that you can make today, that will lead to a healthier lifestyle:
Take a salad for lunch instead of getting take away food,
Walk the stairs at work instead of taking the lift,
Have fruit instead of a muffin or cake for morning tea,
Eat breakfast instead of waiting to eat until mid morning,
Don’t eat after dinner,
Eat a snack sized chocolate instead of a full sized bar,
Don’t drink soft drinks. Drink water instead.
If you enjoyed this short article, more information is in the following: