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Calorie Counting Guide

Tips to help guide you in counting calories.

Counting Calories to Shed Those Pounds

The Simple Guide to Weight Loss Math

Introduction – Why Count Calories

When you’re trying to lose weight and achieve optimal health there are many habits and weight loss paths to consider. Undoubtedly, it’s important to pay attention to what you eat.

The more you eat, the more calories you put into your body. If your body doesn’t burn those calories through the natural course of your day, it stores the energy as fat.

Not good.

The goal is to burn fat, to get rid of it and to never see it again. This is why some people turn to the process of calorie counting to lose weight – it works.

What is Calorie Counting?

Calorie counting is the practice of tracking the food you eat each and every day. You track not only the types of food, but also the amount of food, that you eat. For example, if you have some green beans it’s not enough to document “green beans.” You also need to measure the amount. Did you have a cup of green beans? A half-cup?

How you cook the item is important as well. For example, there are 31 calories in raw green beans, 44 in boiled, and 46 calories in microwaved green beans. With calorie counting, the details are important. If you’re 100 calories off each day that’s a pound at the end of the month, and when you’re trying to lose weight every pound matters.

As you track what you’ve eaten, and how much, you’ll also refer to your choice of calorie information tools. There are mobile applications, online tools, and books that you can use to help you track your daily calories.

Keep in mind that as you’re counting what you consume, you’ll also want to count what you burn. Again, there are tools for doing this. Using a variety of tools or devices that we’ll discuss in a bit, you can track how many calories you burn running errands, walking the dog, watching television and doing Zumba for an hour at the gym. This way you can look at your numbers at the end of the day and make sure that you’re burning more than you’re consuming.

So why go to such detail and why count calories?

We Overestimate How Much We Burn and Underestimate How Much We Eat

Counting calories will be a reality check. Most of us drastically underestimate the number of calories we consume. Much of that is due to portion size discrepancies. A half a cup of French fries is much smaller than you think, and a cup of green beans is probably more than you imagine. We also tend to overestimate the calories we burn when exercising and going about daily life. You might think an hour on the elliptical will earn you a hot fudge sundae – it won’t.

When a 150-pound person spends a half hour on an elliptical at a moderate intensity – meaning they’re at 60-70% of their maximum heart rate – they’ll burn around 386 calories. A two-scoop hot fudge sundae has almost 600 calories. And those are primarily empty calories too, but we’ll get to that shortly.

The truth is that most people aren’t going to exercise at that intensity for the entire time they’re on the elliptical. Your intensity will fluctuate with your energy levels, for example. You may start off very enthusiastic and then you’ll pull back when your heart rate begins feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Calorie Counting Is An Education

When you begin counting calories you’ll begin to realize how much you’re actually eating and burning. You’ll become smarter about what you eat. For example, you may quickly realize that a cookie you want just isn’t worth it because it’ll mean you cannot have as much to eat at dinnertime. You’ll learn to set priorities and eat more nutrient rich foods, which are generally lower in calories.

Calorie Counting Gives You More Control

Knowledge is power, right? The more you know the better your decisions can be. This is most certainly true for counting calories and losing weight. With good calorie counting tools and processes you’ll be able to tell at a glance whether you’re on track for the day or whether you’re busting the calorie budget so to speak.

While it may sound difficult, calorie counting is actually one of the easiest ways to lose weight. You simply track input and output. Assuming your output, or the calories you burn, is more than the input, you’ll lose weight. A single pound of fat is 3,500 calories and cutting calories can add up quickly. Let’s get started at what a calorie is and why counting calories is so effective.

Weight Loss Water?

Drink plenty of water to help control your weight.

A Quick Education on “Weight Loss Water”

Water is the basic component of all life, and is important for you to achieve your maximum health levels.

Human beings today have at their fingertips a wealth of information, and regarding fitness, health and weight loss, we are probably more informed than at any time in history.

It’s a good time to be alive but you have to pay attention to the new research and developments for living a healthy lifestyle.

But did you know these important statistics about water and the human body?

Important Statistic About Water and You

  • The average adult human body is composed of 60 to 70% water.
  • Your internal water levels help control your body’s temperature.
  • A healthy adult needs 9 cups (women) to 13 cups (men) of water daily.
  • Nearly every food or drink item you put in your body provides water.
  • Blood is 92% water, and human muscles are 75% water.

Water is Important for Life and Weight Loss

It is easy to see that water is incredibly important to human life, and ingesting the right water levels is also extremely important for proper and healthy weight loss. The human body unfortunately can not differentiate very well between hunger and thirst. This is why so many individuals grab a snack or something else to eat, when the body is actually just asking for more water.

Then after eating, the body is still thirsty, so that individual believes he or she is still hungry. They eat more, they gain weight and fat, and their bodies are still unhealthy because they desire more water.

Research and Weight Loss Water

As an associate professor of human nutrition, foods and exercise at Virginia Tech University, Dr. Brenda Davy showed that when her research participants drank two glasses of water from 20 to 30 minutes before each meal, they not only lost weight more quickly initially, but they also lost a greater deal of weight than the test subjects that did not drink water before meals.

In another obesity study linked to water which Doctor Davy had published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, people drinking water just before a meal ate 75 fewer calories each meal on average. If would drink water before just lunch and dinner for one year, this could amount to as many as 14.5 pounds of weight loss!

And since when the human body is only 1% dehydrated it instantly decreases metabolism, weight gain immediately follows.

Get Those Liquids in You One Way or Another

Do not forget, as mentioned above, water is found in basically all foods and liquids that human beings eat and drink. So if you simply cannot stomach the thought of drinking several glasses of water each and every day, incorporate soups, vegetables and low-fat dairy products into your diet. These foods are very high in water content, and they assist water in losing weight because they lower the overall calorie density in your meals. This means that you cut calories, add much needed water, and lose weight all at once.

Are Fat-Free Foods Wise?

Fat free food choices everywhere, but are they worthy of eating?

Fat Free Foods May Not Be the Best Choice for Your Health

Just because a food is labeled fat-free, it may not be a good choice for you. Many fat-free foods contain more sugar or artificial sweeteners, which are even worse, than their full-fat or sugar counterpart. And sugar is only the beginning. Because fat adds taste to a product, fat-free foods often have other chemicals added to them to enhance their taste. Not only are these chemicals harmful, they usually boost the calorie content.

A much better choice to look at are the low-fat food choices. According to the FDA and USDA, they will contain 3 grams of fat or less, and usually won’t have the artificial sweeteners.

Some types of fat are actually good for you; as a matter-of-fact, the body has to have fat to exist. The trick is in knowing which type is actually good for you. On the nutrition label, you might find three types of fats:

1) Unsaturated Fat

Both the poly and mono types of unsaturated fat are great sources of good fat. Some examples of each are:


  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu


  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Peanut butter

As you may have noticed with the oils, they remain a liquid at room temperature – a sure sign of an unsaturated fat. The fish listed above are also high in Omega 3, a type of fat that lowers the bad LDL cholesterol.

2) Saturated Fat

When it comes to saturated fat, limit yourself to no more than 10% of your 20% total daily fat requirement; you can tell a saturated fat by its consistency at room temperature – it will be a solid, like butter, shortening or stick margarine. Some other examples of this bad fat are:

  • Hydrogenated Oils, such as Palm and Coconut
  • Rendered Animal Fats
  • Processed Meats
  • Whipped Cream

3) Trans Fat

Stay away from trans fats altogether. They are a manufactured fat that the body does not know how to process. While the label may show 0 grams of trans fat, the product can actually have up to 0.5 gram and not be required to show it on the label. Look for the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” in the list of ingredients; these are trans fats.

So in the realm food, fat-free is not a good option. A much better choice is food low in unsaturated fat. Not only are they heart-healthy, but they will keep your bad cholesterol in check and promote your good cholesterol. Bon appetite!

Having a High Metabolism

What to do when you have a low or high metabolism.

Metabolism is defined as the number of calories the body needs while at rest. In other words, the body needs a certain number of calories just to sustain bodily functions, like breathing and heartbeat. This number is usually referred to as the basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Is a Low Metabolism From a Sluggish Thyroid?

Because your thyroid controls your metabolism through the secretion of hormones, it is these hormones (and your physical fitness level) that control how fast (or slow) food is converted into energy. If you are having trouble losing weight, it could be that your thyroid is not functioning normally. Your doctor can check it with a simple blood test.

Build up Your Muscles for a Higher Metabolism

One fact we know is that a pound of fat burns about 10 calories while a pound of muscle burns almost 30 calories over the same given period of time. So it makes sense that the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn just to sustain the additional muscle. Because of this fact, gaining lean muscle mass is one way to increase your metabolic rate.

Another way is through physical exercise; exercise triggers an increase in metabolism that can last for several hours after finishing your workout. By incorporating weight training into your routines, not only do you increase your metabolism in the short term, but also permanently through the building of lean muscle mass. A win/win situation!

Is Your Metabolism High, Low or Normal?

But how do you know if you metabolism is low, normal or high? First you have to know your BMR – the number of calories your body needs to function while at rest. If the number you consume is higher, but you are not gaining weight, then you have a high metabolism. To calculate your BMR, use these formulas:

  • women: 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years);
  • men: 66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years).

Note the formulas are based on a normal adult body. If you are extremely muscular or very obese, then your resulting figures will be underestimated or overestimated, respectively.

For example, let’s use a 30-year old, 5 ft. 10 in. tall male weighing 170 pounds. Plugging the numbers into the formula 66 + (6.3 x 170) + (12.9 x 72) – (6.8 x 30), we come out with 66 + (1071) + (928.8) – (204) = 1,861.80 calories per day to maintain his current weight. If our study is eating significantly more calories and not gaining weight, then he has a high metabolism. Because he burns calories at a higher rate, it will be easier for him to lose weight just from cutting calories.

While your thyroid basically controls your metabolism, you can help increase its functioning through healthy eating, regular exercise and building of lean muscle mass.

Avoiding Binge Eating

Emotions can controll and drive you to binge eating.

Before we can talk about how to avoid binge eating, we first have to know what it is. Defined as “a bout of uncontrollable eating driven by at least three emotions: depression, anger and anxiety”, it becomes a vicious circle. You are in the thralls of one (or more) of your controlling emotions, so you comfort yourself by eating, and eating … and eating.

Then you feel one or more of these same emotions because you binged, so you binge again. According to doctors, binge eaters are literally trying to stuff their feelings down with food. As long as they are eating, they don’t have to deal with the emotions that are controlling them at the time.

What Emotions Drive Binge Eating?

Of course one way to control binge eating is to recognize which emotion is controlling you and deal with the reason that’s causing that emotion. If you are too close to the situation, you may want to enlist the help of an eating disorder professional. They can help you recognize the cause and help you with a cure.

However if you want to deal with it on your own, here are six tips that can help:

  • Journaling – after a binge, write down what you think triggered it so you can work on eliminating the trigger.
  • Ask for help – most bingers eat alone. When you feel a binge coming on, call a friend. That person can help talk you through your difficult time.
  • Wait it out – Instead of raiding the refrigerator immediately, wait for 15 minutes and try and figure out what tripped the binge feelings.
  • Head for the gym – instead of heading for the refrigerator, do something to occupy your mind. Not only will it take your mind off of eating, exercising can help work out whatever frustration is causing your binge temptation.
  • Eat breakfast – multiple studies have shown that eating a protein rich breakfast can help stave off binge eating at night.
  • Keep trigger foods out of the house – for some binge eaters, certain foods trigger the eating binge. So if you are a person that can’t stop at one peanut butter cookie or one scoop of your favorite ice cream, then don’t keep these things in your house. Many times the urge to binge will pass if you don’t have your trigger foods around to start it in the first place.

Recovering From an Eating Binge

Most important is don’t beat yourself up over it. You can’t change what happened, but you can work on preventing it from happening again, by implementing the six tips above. Along with that, don’t punish yourself by restricting your diet. That in of itself can fuel another binge.

Instead, try to move forward and plan your next healthy portion-sized meal or snack. Focus on making good food choices that include lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and plenty of water.

Physically Fit Family

How to have a physically fit family.

When your entire family is working together towards a common goal, no matter what it is, your chance of success improves dramatically. The old joke asks, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is, “One bite at a time.” When your family is also focused on helping you eat the elephant, a seemingly impossible task gets accomplished in a much shorter time.

While eating an elephant is certainly an unenviable and impossible sounding chore, it is often times just as difficult for a family in today’s society to remain active and to stay fit and keep healthy. Processed and fast foods are everywhere, teens and adults are more sedentary than at any other time in humankind’s history, and mobile Internet technology has everyone’s face stuck in a smartphone or PC display.

That is why it is more important than ever to take certain proven steps towards becoming a more physically fit family. And actually, in many ways, the family dynamic can make physical fitness and better health easier to achieve as a team than it is on the individual level. Children are already conditioned to receiving direction from their parents, and parents are consistently and consciously striving to set the best example. This creates some easy-to-follow steps towards family physical fitness which will increase your overall chance of success.

Assign a Family Fitness Coach

All teams need a coach or manager who leads the actions of the group. Someone in your family needs to direct the physical fitness activities of your “team”. This works most effectively when it is mom or dad doing the coaching. Remember that the coach should set realistic but challenging goals. The family fitness coach should hand out schedules; provide input and motivation, and then follow-up on performances.

Schedule Family Fitness Outings

The different ages and fitness levels of your family members will dictate that not everyone can lift the same weight, run the same distance or swim the same length. However, team activities like hiking are excellent for overall body health, hiking is doable by everyone, and it also allows the family to bond. Schedule family fitness outings which get you and your children away from computers and fast food, and you will find your family growing closer together while also becoming more physically fit.

Incorporate Nutrition as Well as Exercise

It is well known that exercise and nutrition form the two most important components for physical fitness and health. Exercise is great, and as little as 30 minutes per day can deliver a significant health benefit. But correct diet and nutrition is important as well, meaning more fruits and vegetables, less fried and fast foods, more preparing your own meals and enjoying them as a family, and less artificial drinks and sodas.

Hold an Accountability and Rewards Night

To help achieve your family’s physical fitness goals, schedule one night a week where all members of the family enjoy a “rewards meal”, openly discuss their successes and failures of the previous week, and motivate each other for the week to come.

Especially with the children in a family, hard work delivering an enjoyable reward like pizza night and positive affirmations from other family members will go a long way to guaranteeing compliance in future fitness activities.

These are just a few of the simple and inexpensive ways even the busiest family can create a physical fitness attitude that is looked upon positively by all family members.

Try to schedule exercising and workouts at the same time and on the same days whenever you can, to instill a sense of order and repetition. Always reward yourself, your spouse and your children with positive input when it is earned, remember that everyone falls and stumbles from time to time, and the chance of success for your family’s physical fitness plans will improve dramatically.

What Is a Calorie?

What a calorie is and why they are different.

Most people have heard about calories and read on the nutrition label how many are in a particular food, but do people really know what a calorie is, how it is used by their body, or how many they should have in a day? Sadly, most do not.

A calorie defined

In its simplest form, a calorie is a unit of energy; in Medilexicon’s medical dictionary a calorie is defined as “The amount of heat necessary to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius.” Because a calorie is a measure of heat, it occurs in many other things besides food; for example, 1 ton of coal contains 7,004,684,512 calories. However, when referring to it in the realm of nutrition and fitness, it is a unit of measure regarding how much energy we consume through food and drink and the number of units we burn up through normal bodily functions and physical activity.

Calorie verses calorie

There are two types of calorie designations – Calorie (or kcal) and calorie. Like many other things in science, something can be measured by itself or in multiples of 1,000, such as a gram and a kilogram. The same is true with calories – a Calorie is 1,000 calories. Where the confusion comes in is on nutrition labels. What shows as a calorie is actually 1,000 times that amount or a Calorie or kcal. So if a label shows that cookie you are about to eat has 250 calories, it actually has 250,000 calories.

But how it is measured is really irrelevant, because the same unit of measure used on nutrition labels is the same we use in calorie expenditure; with that measurement equal, it makes it easy to know how many calories you take in verses how many you burn.

Calories are your friends

In the world of weight loss, calories are viewed as a bad thing – something to avoid in order to lose weight. In reality, our bodies need calories to survive; without them, we would die. The key is to manage how many calories you take in verses how many you burn up. When you burn more calories than you eat, you lose weight; burn 3,500 calories more per week than you take in and you lose a pound.

Not all calories are created equal

You would think a standard quantity of something, such a 1 gram would contain the same number of calories. Wrong! While 1 gram of either carbohydrates or protein each contains 4 calories, 1 gram of fat contains over twice that amount – 9 calories. So what you eat has a major effect on how many calories you consume. By eating a gram of fat, you are taking in twice as many calories than if you ate a gram of carbs or protein.

So now you know what a calorie is, how it is measured and the number of calories in a gram of carbohydrates, protein and fat. You will use this information in your quest for a healthy lifestyle.

Why All Calories Are Not Created Equal

You have probably heard the old adage “A calorie is a calorie”. It suggests a calorie is the same regardless where it comes from. The problem is the adage is all wrong! While all calories are the same in regard to the energy content in each, how the body process each type varies. Here are five things to keep in mind when trying to manage your weight.

Energy required to process calories

We all know that our body burns calories to digest, absorb and metabolize food into energy. But what you may not know is that your body uses higher number of calories to process protein than it does for carbohydrates and still a lower number for fat. This suggests your body stores less calories on a high protein diet than one high in carbohydrates or fat due to the extra calories it takes to process protein.

Effect of calorie restriction

The above 3,500 calorie per week deficit to lose a pound will work for a while. But soon you will find you are losing less weight each week even though you are consuming the same number of calories. Why? It is called metabolic adaptation or “starvation mode”. Your body recognizes the calorie reduction and it begins to work more efficiently – doing more with less. In doing so, it in effect increases the value of each calorie. Your body gets more mileage out of each calorie now than it did before.

Protein is your friend

Protein satisfies you better over a longer period of time. If you don’t feel hungry, you are less likely to eat. This further supports the theory that not all calories are the same. If you eat junk food loaded with saturated fat and simple carbohydrates, you’ll not only end up consuming more calories at the time, but you’ll be looking for something to eat sooner than if you would have eaten turkey breast, chicken breast, tuna or lean beef.

Fiber slows absorption

Even though most fiber comes from carbohydrates, it is not absorbed by the body, so in effect; it keeps you fuller longer and reduces your desire to eat. So calories in a high-fiber diet are more satisfying than ones in a low calorie diet – yet another way, calories are different, even within the same macro-nutrient.

Timing your meals

A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the thermal effect of food – the energy used in the digestion and absorption of food – is higher in the morning that during other times of the day. As a matter of fact 16% higher; it proves we burn more calories in the morning. Food calories consumed right after waking from a sleep are more likely to be used and not stored.

Even though these five things do have a minimal effect on weight management in the short term, just understanding how your body processes different types of calories can make a difference over the long haul. As the saying goes “Every little bit helps.”

Use Cooking Spray to Cut Calories

Using cooking spray to reduce calorie count.

When most of us think about cutting calories, we think about reducing the amount of food we eat. However, cutting out food is not the only way to reduce your calorie intake. You can cut out calories by using alternate cooking preparation techniques.

One healthy way is instead of coating your pan with butter, margarine, oil or meat drippings, spray it with a cooking spray. Replacing one pat of butter with one spray saves on average 35 calories and three grams of fat. Most commercially prepared cooking sprays have about one gram of fat and seven calories for a one-second spray. By comparison a pat of butter has 36 calories and over four grams of fat.

Other Cooking Spray Ideas

Another popular choice for using cooking spray instead of butter is on air-popped popcorn. Your popcorn will still have the buttery taste, but without all of the calories. Cooked vegetables don’t have to be served drizzled with butter. Instead use a cooking spray to coat the vegetables and then toss with your favorite herbs or seasonings. You’ll find you actually will prefer vegetables served with cooking spray instead of butter.

Eating Out

All of this is well and good for meals you cook at home, but what about when you eat out? Most restaurants will oblige your request to have something cooked in cooking spray instead of butter or oil. In most cases, all you have to do is ask. As more people are becoming health-conscious, eateries are adapting to keep your business.

Make Your Own Cooking Spray

Mix together 1 part of olive oil (or a healthy oil of your choice) and 5 parts of water. Pour into a misting spray bottle and shake well to mix the ingredients. That’s it; simple, huh. Make sure your bottle is the mister type. A plant mister bottle works well. Be sure to shake well each time before using so the contents are well mixed. Commercial sprays contain an emulsifier to keep the oil and water suspended, where your homemade spray does not.

Overall, ounce for ounce, cooking oils and fats contribute more calories to your foods than any other ingredient. By using a cooking spray, you are cutting out unwanted calories and fat, but not flavor. It may only be 35 calories that you are saving, but little changes here and there all add up in the end – your goal to reduce calories by 500 per day to lose an average of one pound a week.

Satisfy Hunger While Cutting Calories

How to control snack and hunger urges.

If you are trying to lose weight, we know one strategy is to cut calories. However until your body gets used to not getting as many calories per day, you may have occasional pangs of hunger. The good news is there are several strategies that can help curb the urge to eat.


Good ol’ H2O is your friend when trying to cut calories. To keep hydrated, you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. One strategy you can use to trick your body is to drink a glass of water shortly before eating your meal. Water fills you up and when combined with a meal, your mind signals you that it is full even though you are now eating less calories than before. Drink the rest of your water requirement throughout the day.


Another friend you’ll like is fiber. You’ll find it in such things as legumes, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Foods high in fiber take longer to chew, so your brain has time to signal that your stomach is full. Most fiber is non-soluble meaning it is not digested by your body. So you get the bulk of fiber, but not the calories. Ramp up your fiber intake slowly and drink lots of fluids. If you notice bloating, gas or constipation, back off your fiber content until your body gets used to the extra roughage.


Protein is a good food to help satisfy your hunger because it takes longer to digest than other foods, like carbohydrates and fats. When trying to lose weight, be sure to start your day with protein in your breakfast. This gives your body something to use as fuel after having fasted all night instead of burning up muscle mass. And it allows your body to use the amino acids in protein to build lean muscle mass. More muscle mass means your body is burning more calories in order to fuel the increased caloric requirement.


Produce like fruits and vegetables tend to fill you up, but are low in calories. Because they contain a lot of water, you can fill up on them without busting your calorie goal. With much of the produce, it takes more calories to digest them then the calories that are in them. This is known as a negative calorie food.

By drinking water, eating low calorie produce and eating foods high in fiber and protein, you will be well on your way to keeping your hunger in check while cutting calories. You can cut calories and not be hungry at the same time.

How to Curb the Late Night Urges for a Snack

What you eat for breakfast may very well affect your urge to eat at night. That’s right. Studies based on blood samples and brain activity scans prove that eating a breakfast high in protein in the morning can curb your desire to eat after supper. But what if you have those after-supper or late night overwhelming urges to eat something – anything?

Evening grazers have found these six strategies work at curbing their late night snacking urges:

1) Eat foods high in fiber

High fiber foods keep you from getting hungry by keeping you fuller longer. Also, most foods high in fiber contain fewer calories than lower fiber foods. Legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains are staples and full of fiber.

2) Keep busy

Take a look at why you are eating. Is it because you are physically hungry, or are you eating to quell some emotions or from boredom? If you are actually hungry, then by all means have a snack (by snack we are talking 250 calories or less), such as a small apple, rice cake with peanut butter, or a cup of low-fat yogurt. Be sure to factor in these calories into your daily calorie count.

But if you are not hungry, then keep busy doing something that will take your mind off of eating, such as taking a walk, working emails, calling a friend, going to bed or just waiting for a while. Normally that urge to raid the refrigerator will pass with time.

3) Eat your evening meal later than normal

If you find you actually are hungry, try eating your evening meal a little later than normal. This may keep you full until bedtime, thus eliminating your evening snack.

4) Eat a healthy morning and afternoon snack

One of the biologic functions that can fuel a hunger binge is a drop in blood sugar. Prevent this by having a healthy snack in the morning and afternoon in addition to your small healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.

5) Plan a healthy night-time snack

There is nothing wrong with eating a late-night snack if you plan the calories into your daily count. Chew on some carrot sticks or celery filled with peanut butter. The fiber will keep you satisfied until breakfast.

6) Only keep healthy foods stocked in your pantry

One way to keep from wrecking your diet through late-night snacking is to not have “bad” snacks in the house. You can’t eat something that is not there. If you must have something to eat, gosh on some popcorn (without the butter of course). It can be eaten slowly and the fiber will fill you up without all the extra calories.

Part of overcoming your late-night urges is setting you up for success. Use these six strategies that other late-night grazers have found to be effective.

How to Cook Healthy Delicious Vegetables!

Freshly prepared healthy vegetables cooked the right way.

Choices – Cooking Good Tasting Vegetables

Many people trying to cut calories don’t like cooked vegetables. But if prepared properly using the methods below, they will have a new appreciation for the healthy lifestyle staple:

  1. Steamed
  2. Grilled
  3. Roasted
  4. Stir Fried
  5. Blanched
  6. Topped
  7. Simmered

Steamed Vegetables

Timing is the key to cooking vegetables with this method. When done properly, steamed vegetables are crisp, tasty and of course nutritious. Cauliflower takes about 20 minutes to cook in a steamer. Overcooking causes vegetables to lose their crispness and get mushy.

Grilled Vegetables

Unlike steaming, grilling vegetables requires using a dry heat. A favorite vegetable to grill is asparagus. Preheat your grill on a high setting. Lightly brush olive oil on the asparagus spears; salt and pepper to taste. Grill these for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are at your desired tenderness.

Roasted Vegetables

The key to roasting is to use a high-heat oven setting. This caramelizes the sugars in the vegetables thus locking in the flavor. One favorite recipe is to roast potatoes, onions and carrots. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces; brush pieces with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in an uncovered pan for 30-40 minutes or until tender.

Stir Fried Vegetables

This method of cooking also uses a high heat, but is prepared on the stovetop. Cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces and meat (if used) into thin strips. Using a sauté pan, toss the mixture with a little healthy oil and herbs. Keep tossing with two large spoons while the mixture cooks. Do not overcook; vegetables should still be crisp when served.

Blanched Vegetables

Blanching is the best way to preserve the greatest amount of nutrients from your vegetables. To blanch, you simply bring a pot of water to a boil and submerge the cleaned, raw vegetable into the boiling water and remove after a few seconds. The trick is to get the vegetables hot without cooking them. Broccoli is good after about 10 seconds in steady boiling water, then season with a light sprinkle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Simmered Vegetables

Simmering involves cooking vegetables initially at a boil and then reducing to a low heat while immersed in a liquid. Liquids can range from just plain water to broth or a soup stock.

To simmer, first cube the vegetables. With the vegetables in an uncovered pot, add enough liquid to cover them halfway. Add a small amount of olive oil, salt and other seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are just tender.

Asparagus will take less than 5 minutes where denser vegetables like cabbage take 10 to 15 minutes. Finish off the vegetables by tossing them with a vinaigrette dressing, flavored olive oil, or some lemon juice and herbs.

Cooked vegetables do not have to be boring or mushy. Use these time-tested methods of cooking used by top chefs to wow your guests or family with great cooked and healthy vegetables.