Stephanie

Plan for Stress and Have Success

Walking

Tiffany often tells me that she had a stressful week. Sound familiar? It’s common for work and family obligations to overwhelm you some days or weeks, causing tension. But that’s no excuse to eat poorly or skip your workout! The Lehmans know this first-hand. The Healthy Family Challenge has taught them strategies to stay on course even during times of anxiety. Here are some tips I’ve shared with them which can help everyone.

  1. Stock the freezer. When you’re short on time and stress levels are high, you’ll be tempted to order take-out or head for the nearest restaurant, where you’ll likely eat far more than if you had eaten at home. Avoid that by having a freezer full of healthy frozen meals.
  2. Get a fitness buddy. Have someone in place to motivate you to keep working out, even when you have no interest in moving from the couch.
  3. Make a different diet friend. Find someone who is also trying to lose weight or make healthy changes and act as each other’s support person.
  4. Plan for special events. Holidays, birthdays, parties. It seems like we’re always surrounded with excuses to eat. Decide now what events are worth that extra splurge and which foods you most look forward to. Then say “no” to the rest. Love those holiday sweet potatoes? Enjoy them! Don’t really care about that cake at your office party? Skip it!

Think about any other things that would help you stay on track and then write them down, making your own personal plan for staying healthy. Stressful events often occur when you’re not expecting them. So have a plan in place now to help ensure you’ll continue your healthy habits when anxiety rears its ugly head.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


How To Set Your Own Healthy Goals

Woman eating apple

The challenge is ending soon, but I’ve asked the Lehmans to continue making goals for themselves. This is important because it will help keep them from slipping into old habits. For instance, recently I’ve noticed that the Lehmans have been eating fewer fruits and vegetables—almost down to the level they were eating at the start of the challenge. That’s not unusual. In fact, most people fall back into old habits if they’re not focusing on healthy behaviors.

If that sounds familiar, try setting monthly health goals for yourself. Do this as a family rather than having just mom or dad decide what the goal will be. Or, offer up several goals and let the family choose which one to work on. Then, have the entire family come up with ways to implement the goal.

So if your monthly goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables, ask your kids how they could help in that goal. Keep them involved throughout the month. Let them pick out some fresh produce at the grocery store. Invite them to help with meals, washing carrots or mixing a salad. Kids will be much more likely to get on board with a health goal if they are actively involved in planning and implementing it.

Keep a list of your family’s health goals so you always have one or two to work on. Once you’ve met the monthly goal, keep tabs on it. A few months later, check in and see if you’ve kept up the healthy changes or slid back into old habits. Remember: Making healthy changes is a process. It takes time and effort but eventually those changes will become part of your lifestyle.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


Do You Still Need a Food Journal?

FLogg Journal

Even after you lose weight, it’s a good idea to keep a food journal. Why? Because it prevents you from slipping back into your old habits–the ones that caused you to gain all that weight you worked so hard to take off!

You don’t have to keep a journal every day or every week but it’s a good idea to write down what you eat for a few days each month. Keep a reminder on your calendar. Or, if you’re sitting waiting somewhere, take out a piece of paper or your smart phone and just jot down what you had to eat that day or the previous day.

Writing down what you eat has several benefits. One, you see patterns starting to form. Are you starting to eat more fried foods? Drinking more high calorie beverages? Two, you have to think about portion sizes. Did you have one cup of cereal at breakfast or did you just fill the bowl and not think about it? And three, it makes you count those little bites that you would rather not think about, like that chicken nugget you stole from your son’s plate or those fries your daughter didn’t finish.

So if you’ve lost the weight and tossed your food journal aside, consider getting it out again. It’s not just for dieters. It’s a useful tool for anyone trying to eat a healthy diet or maintain their weight.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


A Simple Trick to Keep Weight Off: Weigh Yourself Regularly

weighing yourself

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know how hard it is. That’s why it’s so important to keep the excess weight from coming on in the first place. And one method for doing that is to weigh yourself regularly. I know there are lots of opinions on this with some experts saying to never weigh yourself but I think regular weigh-ins are helpful for keeping you on track.

You might think it’s better to just see how your clothes fit. If they’re getting snug, it’s time to cut back. But this doesn’t always work. Clothes stretch and people like to use the “it must have shrunk in the dryer” excuse when pants get too tight. A scale is more reliable.  And it seems to get people to take action more than the tight-clothing approach.

How often should you weigh in? Some people like to weigh themselves every day, but I think that’s a lot. And once a week weigh-ins can be misleading. For example, just one day of salty meals before a weigh-in could add on a couple pounds of excess water. So I tell people to weigh in 2-3 times a week. That way you can get an average for the week.

If you see your weight creeping up by a couple pounds, take action. Cut portions a little and bump up your activity level. These small changes can help get rid of those few extra pounds. And losing 1-2 pounds now is much easier than trying to lose 20-30 pounds later.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


Cut the “Diet” Foods

When I started working with the Lehman family, I noticed that they ate a lot of “diet” foods. I call them “diet” foods because they are specifically marketed to dieters. These foods are lower in fat or calories or claim to actually cause weight loss (e.g. “Eat this for a week and lose weight!”).

The problem I have with these foods is that many of the ingredients are not real food. Look at the label and you’ll likely see food dyes, artificial flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated (trans) fats and one or more artificial sweeteners. Ironically, some studies that have shown that artificial sweeteners can actually increase hunger and cause weight gain! A similar link was found with fake fats.

Another problem I have with “diet” food products is that people use them as an excuse to overeat later. They figure if they only had a diet soda and fat free chips for lunch, they can splurge at dinner. They end up eating far more calories than if they had skipped the low calorie chips and diet soda and just had a regular lunch!

If you tend to buy a lot of foods aimed at dieters, try replacing at least half of them with real, whole foods:

  • Choose whole fruit over fruit-flavored “diet” snack bars or cereals.
  • Buy plain yogurt and flavor it yourself instead of buying flavored “light” yogurt.

If you’re not sure what to buy, here’s a rule I often tell Tiffany: Always read ingredient panels. If you can’t buy those ingredients in the grocery store, go find a different food. That simple rule will quickly shorten your grocery list to basic, whole, healthy foods.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.