7 Simple Ways to Stay on Track at the BBQ

7 Simple Ways to Stay on Track at the BBQ

Backyard barbecues are a real minefield when you”;re trying to lose weight and stay healthy. First, most of them are a carnivore”;s delight–;lots of steak, burgers and bratwurst sizzling irresistibly on the grill. Second, cookouts redefine salad as “;something soaking in high-fat mayonnaise.”; And the desserts? Fuggedaboutit, even if you do have room after that outdoor feast.

But if you choose to step away from your diet plan to take in the festivities, you can till successfully stay on track at the BBQ by making good choices and doing a little prep. First, know which foods to stay away from (or at least to keep to a teeny tiny portion size). Click here to get our list of the 5 Worst Calorie Bombs at the BBQ. Then, be smart about the food choices you make while there. Here’s how to keep winning at weight loss without missing out on the fun:

1. Volunteer to Bring the Apps
If you don”;t want your only choice to be chips and high-calorie onion dip or a cheese and sausage tray, offer to bring a gorgeous cut veggie plate with low-fat dip, or baked chips with salsa or hummus.

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2. BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat)
Easy enough to do when you”;re hosting and much appreciated by your hosts when you”;re not, since meat is the most expensive part of the meal. Check first that your host is okay with it. If he or she is planning a gourmet feast of kobe beef or individual quail, you may just want to exercise portion control. But it”;s just as easy to throw a turkey or veggie burger or hot dog on the grill when the grillmaster is cooking regular burgers and brats. Friends are usually happy to accommodate you.

If you have the choice, go for grilled chicken, fish or lean beef. Even a regular hot dog is less fatty and calorie-laden than other kinds of sausage. Save a load of calories and carbs by saying no to the bun and cheese. Avoid mayo. Stick to mustard, dill relish or a little ketchup (just a little since it”;s full of sugar which can stimulate your appetite).

3. Take a Small Scoop of Coleslaw
Even if it”;s made with high-fat mayonnaise, one serving (around three ounces) is only about 172 calories and has two grams of fiber (thank you cabbage!), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Better yet, make your own–;just substitute low-cal mayo for the regular or do a vinegar-based dressing and you can cut the calories by as much a two-thirds.

4. Have Some Baked Beans
Stick to half a cup or less because they”;re high in calories. One cup has more than 300 of them, depending on the brand. But they”;re high in satisfying fiber–;half a cup of Bush”;s Original, for example, has five grams of fiber for only 150 calories.* Be sure to opt for low-sodium varieties if you’re the bean-bringer.

5. Load Up on Green Salad
This time of year, produce is abundant. Bring your own green salad (add lots of low-cal veggies) to share as well as bottle of low-cal dressing. Or, opt for grilled veggie kebabs, which are full of fiber and go light on calories.

6. Have Whole Wheat Pasta Salad
The chances of someone making this? Pretty slim. But you don”;t have to be much of a cook to throw together an awesome pasta salad. Pick a fun shape, like corkscrew (fusilli), wagon wheels, bowties or gemelli. Add some veggies, like halved cherry tomatoes, fresh peas, snapbeans (blanched a little to soften them), grated carrots, edamame (soybeans), corn, scallions, peppers, onions or whatever you have fresh. Punch up the flavor with fresh herbs, like basil, oregano or mint or even shavings of ginger with a light dressing of olive oil and balsamic or flavored vinegar with a touch of Dijon mustard to bind it. A sprinkling of fat-free feta adds some protein with very few calories.

7. For Dessert, Think Fresh or Frozen
End your meal with a slice of watermelon, a scoop of fruit salad or fruity sorbet, or a healthier frozen fruit bar like Outshine brand*, which has 60-80 calories, depending on the flavor, and contains no high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener research suggests may put you at risk for obesity and diabetes.

The post 7 Simple Ways to Stay on Track at the BBQ appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

Want to Shrink Your Belly? Stop Doing These 6 Things

Want to Shrink Your Belly? Stop Doing These 6 Things

Losing weight can change your whole self-image, helping you feel better about yourself and your appearance. But even when you stick to your weight loss plan and steadily shed excess pounds, belly bloat can spoil your results. How can you get the flat belly you want? Battle the bloat and shrink that belly by avoiding these common causes:

1. Eating Fast
When you’re feeling very hungry, you may be so eager to satisfy your appetite that you wolf down your food. But when you eat fast, you tend to swallow a lot of air along with the food. Air in your stomach can noticeably bloat your belly. The excess air will pass or dissipate eventually, but for a few hours it can leave you with a swollen gut.

Bonus: Taking time to chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly lets you enjoy the food more and, studies show, discourages overeating.

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2. Chewing Gum
There are lots of reasons for chewing gum. It can refresh your breath, relieve dry mouth and even help stave off hunger. But when you chew gum–;or suck on hard candy–;you swallow more often than you would otherwise. And because there is no food to swallow, you take in even more air than when you eat.

3. Drinking Soda
Carbonation makes fizzy drinks fun, but the bubbles can cause belly bloating. Even diet soda or low-calorie flavored seltzer can produce a paunch. Try drinking peppermint tea–;hot or cold–;because it aids digestion, further reducing the risk of bloat. Want some help cutting back on soda? We can help!

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4. Consuming Artificial Sweeteners
Sorbitol, xylitol and other sweeteners found in sugar-free foods are carbohydrates that some complain can generate gas in your digestive tract, leaving you with a bloated belly. If sweets are what you’re after but you want to lose weight, opt for foods that are naturally sweet, like fruit. If you’re looking to add a little sweetness to your morning cup of joe, sprinkle in some Stevia, a natural sweetener with no calories.

5. Eating Wheat and Dairy
Even people who don’t have allergies or food intolerances can experience excess gas and belly bloat from consuming common foods containing flour or milk. As your body ages, its capacity to digest wheat and dairy products can change significantly, so food you have enjoyed in the past may cause you discomfort now. If you find that your belly blows up a bit after consuming either of these foods, try minimizing their role in your diet to see if doing so has a positive impact on your midsection.

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6. Over-salting
Salt is essential to your health, but too much can cause your body to retain water and make your belly look bigger. The salt shaker on your table isn’t the only source of sodium in your diet–;processed foods can contribute lots of sodium to your diet as well. When grocery shopping, check product labels to be sure that they are, like the Nutrisystem program, aligned with the United States Department of Agriculture”;s (USDA”;s) recommendation for the general adult population–;2,300 milligrams or less of sodium daily. Get the skinny on the sodium content in Nutrisystem diet foods right here.

Craving more belly-blasting tips? Read this article to find out six foods that will help you battle belly fat, get some belly-friendly recipes here, or try these five yoga moves for a whittled middle. Still not enough? Enter the word “belly” into the search bar in the top right-hand corner of this page, and get a full arsenal of flat belly and weight loss tips!

The post Want to Shrink Your Belly? Stop Doing These 6 Things appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

7 Guaranteed Ways to Lose Weight for Summer

7 Guaranteed Ways to Lose Weight for Summer

Around this time of year, your local magazine stand starts to look like a scolding personal trainer. “;Lose Weight for Summer!”; “;There”;s Still Time To Fit Into That Bikini!”; “;Drop 10, 20, 30 Pounds Before Hitting the Beach!”; the covers shout.

These headlines can start to feel a bit intimidating (not to mention judgemental… sheesh!). But luckily, warm weather is conducive to melting extra pounds. So with a few tweaks to your regular routine, you can drop a few inches without much work. And, of course, if you haven’t signed up for Nutrisystem, you should think about doing it now! With Nutrisystem, you can lose up to 13 pounds and seven inches overall in your first month!*… just enough time to drop those pounds by summer. Sign up here >

Here are seven easy ways to lose weight for summer:
1. Get out in the glorious weather

Turns out there”;s a big advantage to exercising in the open air instead of the gym. A British research team analyzed data from studies involving 833 people. Their study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that those who exercised outside were less stressed and depressed and enjoyed exercising so much they were far more likely to keep it up than those who did their workouts inside. Of course, the more you exercise, the more calories you burn. The boost in mental health also offers a weight loss bonus: You”;re less prone to emotional eating.

2. Don”;t try to beat the heat

When you”;re trying to lose weight, heat can be your best friend. Why? Eating makes you hot. Really. Eating contributes to helping you maintain your body heat, which is the last thing you want to do in the summer. The result: You”;re more likely to eat less during the summer months to keep your cool, says researcher C. Peter Hermann in the government report, “;Nutritional Needs in Hot Environments,”; which was written for military personnel serving in hot climates. This may be one reason that your appetite crashes after a bout of brisk exercise, which can raise your core body temperature. So don”;t hide in the AC. Get out and sweat a little!

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3. Fill up on summer foods

One of the challenges of hot weather is to stay hydrated. That means you”;re likely to drink more during the summer, which may help curb your appetite. But don”;t overlook the benefits of summer foods such as fresh produce and cold fruit and vegetable soups like gazpacho. Many studies have found putting that this “;edible water”; on the menu regularly will help you lose weight. Research by Penn State nutrition scientist Barbara Rolls, PhD, has found that eating foods that have a high water content–;like fresh summer fruits (think watermelon), light soups and salads–;fills you up fast so you”;re not as hungry. In her studies, those who ate “;juicy”; foods ate less than those who didn”;t eat them. They even worked better than drinking water with meals in curbing appetite.

4. Worship the morning sun

Yes, there is a best time to exercise, even if you”;re only going to take a little stroll. People who were more exposed to light in the early morning had a lower body mass index than those whose light exposure happened later in the day, according to a study by researchers at Chicago”;s Northwestern University. The study participants wore wrist monitors that tracked their light exposure and sleeping patterns and they kept track of everything they ate for a week. The magic: Light exposure early in the day helps set your internal clock which, if it”;s disrupted, can lead to sluggish metabolism and weight gain.

5. Use the sleeveless top motivation

Let”;s face, in the summertime, there”;s really nowhere to hide those extra pounds. It”;s not like winter, when you can disguise your bulges under chunky sweaters and long-sleeved tunics. Don”;t let it get you down. Let the lighter, scantier clothes you wear–;even if they reveal your flaws–;be added motivation to stick with your diet and exercise plan.

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6. Burn calories the fun way

All those good-weather activities, from walking on the beach to swimming to playing golf, can turn your daily workouts into play. If your kids are out shooting hoops in the driveway, join them. If you”;ve got enough game, you can scorch off 440 calories in an hour, according to choosemyplate.gov, the website of the United States Department of Agriculture Go for bike rides. Just a half hour on two wheels at 10 mph can burn 295 calories. Spending just an hour working in the garden can torch 330 calories.

7. Go with your gut

A flood of new research suggests that the type of bacteria you have in your gut may play a role in making you overweight. Diets heavy in fat and processed foods are a likely culprit in populating your intestines with the kinds of bugs that make you fat. Since you”;re eating light in the summer anyway, this might be the time to add more prebiotics and probiotics to your diet to balance your gut flora. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, probiotics are what you find in yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods–;good bacteria that can help your digestion. Look for “;live and active cultures”; and be wary of those products with too much sugar. Prebiotics are carbohydrates, actually a type of fiber that your body can”;t digest. You”;ll find them in onions and garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, soybeans and whole wheat foods.

Ready to get in shape for the summer? Check out Nutrisystem’s great plans here >

*In a study, avg. weight loss was 11.6 lbs and 8 inches.

The post 7 Guaranteed Ways to Lose Weight for Summer appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

10 Fruits That Taste Awesome Grilled

10 Fruits That Taste Awesome Grilled

Open-flame cooking brings out the best flavor in just about every food. When you grill vegetables and fruits, their natural sugars caramelize and they taste even sweeter. Many favorite fruits are fast and easy to grill, and they make a deliciously different ingredient, side dish, snack, or treat. Because they are nutrient-rich, filled with fiber, and low to medium on the Glycemic Index, fresh fruits are SmartCarbs you can enjoy without impeding progress toward your weight loss goal. Just be sure to consult your Grocery Guide for proper portion sizes.

Ready to try grilled fruit? Here are a few tips for success with all fruits and hints for enjoying 10 great tastes of the season:

Basket, Pan or Skewers

The grates that came with your grill are shaped for cooking meat, but less substantial ingredients, such as pieces of fruit, are prone to falling through as they heat up. When grilling fruit, put it in a wire basket or on a tray with small holes that allow the flames to touch the food but keep it from falling through. Another fun option: soak wooden skewers (like those used for kebabs) in water for 30 minutes, poke them through the fruit, then put them on the grill.

Go Large

Fruit cooks quickly on the grill and within minutes small pieces can begin to disintegrate. Cut it it in large chunks, even if you need to slice it down to bite-size before serving.

Light Oil

Spraying cut fruit with zero-calorie cooking spray, or tossing cut fruit with a little olive or coconut oil or butter before grilling helps bring out its flavor and prevents the pieces from sticking to the basket, pan or grates. Avoid drenching the food in fats, which can lead to a grease fire. Just coat it lightly.

Low, Indirect Heat

Cooking over high flames can leave you with burned fruit in a matter of minutes. Better to grill fruit on the outer edges of the grates or over coals that have turned gray.

Let Cool

Fruits contain a lot of water, which becomes extremely hot when grilling. Allow it to cool after removing it from the heat before eating so that scorchingly hot water doesn’t squirt out and burn your mouth when you bite into it.

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So now that you know the HOW of grilling fruit, here’s the WHAT:

1. Peaches

Slice in half and remove the pits. For more flavor, brush with honey and sprinkle them with cinnamon. Put peach halves on the grill with the cut side down and cook for eight to 10 minutes, until fruit is hot throughout.

2. Plums

Like peaches, cut in half and remove the pits before cooking. Leave on the grill for four to six minutes, until the flesh is tender but not crumbling.

3. Apples

Peel, cut into quarters and remove the core and seeds. Sprinkle with lemon juice to keep the cut pieces from turning brown. Grill for 20 minutes, turning every five minutes.

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4. Pears

Slice into wedges, cutting away the stem, core, and visible seeds. Brush with coconut oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Cook for 15 minutes, turning every three to five minutes.

5. Figs

Snip the tiny stem end off each fig and cut in half lengthwise. Coat in a light mixture of lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon. Grill for two to three minutes on each side.

6. Watermelon

Go with seedless varieties, if you can. Cut melon into thick wedges or one-inch-wide rounds. Grill for two to three minutes per side.

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7. Cantaloupe

Slice into one inch wide wedges with the rind still attached and discard seeds. Or cut into cubes (with rind removed) and slide them on to skewers. Cook for four to six minutes, turning frequently.

8. Pineapple

Cut pineapple into wedges with the skin still on the edges or remove the skin and core and slice into rings. Grill for about three minutes per side.

9. Bananas

Peel banana and slice in half lengthwise. Grill for two minutes per side.

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10. Lemons

Cut the fruit in half, pick out any visible seeds with a fork or your fingertip, and brush the cut sides lightly with oil. Set them cut-side down on the grill and cook for about three minutes, until the fruit is lightly charred. Squeeze onto grilled chicken, fish or vegetables.

The post 10 Fruits That Taste Awesome Grilled appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

5 Signs You’re Prone to Emotional Eating

5 Signs You’re Prone to Emotional Eating

Are you a mindless muncher? A comfort food connoisseur? Or a break-up binger? Don”;t be ashamed. For many people, emotions and food are so intertwined, it”;s hard to differentiate between eating for fuel and feeding your feelings.

Hence the term, “emotional eating.”

There are two types of hunger–;emotional and physical. Emotional hunger is the need to eat when physical hunger isn”;t present. It is essentially feeding our feelings with food.

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Emotional eating is a vice. Food elicits a wide array of hormones and chemicals that dance around in our brains, sending us feelings of comfort, happiness and ease. According to the National Institute of Health, eating releases dopamine, which activates the pleasure center of the brain. The long and short of it? Food makes us feel good.

And while studies suggest thatpeople with a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight or obese range more commonly turn to food as a coping mechanism, determining the reason for thus is a bit of a “;chicken and egg”; situation; there is an ongoing debate over whether the binging tendency or the weight gain comes first.

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Like many vices, emotional eating is a health concern. It is obvious that eating beyond your physical needs can cause serious weight gain. And with excess weight comes an increased risk for diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, among others. Eating disorders can also develop when emotional hunger is accompanied by cycles of binging and purging. But the signs aren”;t always so extreme or so obvious.

So how do you know if you”;re an emotional eater?

Here are five common indicators that emotional eating is a problem for you:
1. You Turn to Food When You”;ve Had an Argument with A Loved One

File this one under comfort food or food for comfort.

Difficult emotions are, well, difficult. An argument can cause stress hormones to spike. Initially, stress may decrease appetite, but as the stress persists, hormones are released that can increase your cravings. During prolonged periods of stress, appetite can remain high regardless of physical hunger or nutritional needs.

Unfortunately, carrot sticks and celery boats may not be enough to satisfy your stress-induced appetite either. Studies have found emotional hunger causes very specific cravings. Sad people prefer ice cream and cookies, not salad and broccoli.

2. You Overeat While Working Late or Studying

The big issue with emotional hunger is that we eat more than we normally would, which puts us at risk for weight gain. Psychologists call this unconscious eating. While performing a task like studying or working on a big project, we can let ourselves become too tired and too hungry. Hormones go crazy and send sudden urges to your brain requesting food. We polish off the entire bag of chips, box of cookies or gallon of soda. We finish the rest of the pizza or find ourselves elbow deep in a big bowl of buttery popcorn. Overconsumption of calories leads to obesity. Consuming foods high in sodium leads to hypertension. Saturated-fat-laden treats endanger our hearts. Unconscious eating, while seemingly innocent, can become a danger to our health.

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3. You Turn To Food When You”;re Bored

The American Psychological Association found in 2012 that when boredom was added to the emotional eating scale it became the most commonly cited emotion while eating. Cravings can be specific for bored eating, too. Research has shown that people who eat out of boredom crave salty, crunchy snacks. Eating these foods releases chemicals in the brain similar to chemicals released by some drugs. Like a drug, food creates a soothing, calming effect. That”;s why we look forward to food when things get a bit wearisome. As with all forms of emotional eating, eating because of boredom leads to extra calories, possibly spiraling into significant weight gain. Even in the absence of stress or sadness, bored eating can be the root of a failed weight loss effort or sudden jump on the scale.

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4. You Hide What You Eat

But why? Emotional hunger feels sudden and urgent. It”;s irrational. We make bad choices. We eat too much. This causes feelings of guilt. The guilt can then create feelings of shame, which may further fuel the binge. The National Eating Disorder Association lists secretive behaviors such as eating alone, hiding or hoarding food as a behavioral characteristic of binge eating.

Shame and guilt are powerful emotions. A 2014 study found that feelings of shame coupled with anxiety elicited larger binge episodes in women compared to anxiety alone.

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5. You Eat When You”;re Anxious

We all get anxious: A new job, a big meeting, an intense social gathering…; A study in 2012 found that higher rates of anxiety in college woman correlated with higher reports of emotional eating. At the beginning of the semester, anxiety was at its peak, with new classes, new faces and new adjustments. Of course, emotional eating was at its highest then, as the college students coped with this anxiety.

As far back as 1957, research has confirmed that overeating can be a means of easing emotional discomfort and anxiety. To complicate the issue even more, overconsuming high fatcomfort foods can exacerbate negative emotions and stress. Hence, the vicious cycle of overeating and anxiety sets in motion.

Emotional eating, regardless of the source, is certainly a cause for concern. The longer the cycle continues, the more difficult it could be to break from it. The key is finding new ways to cope with the underlying stress, anxiety and boredom, that don”;t involve food.

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The next time an emotional experience has you plunging into the pantry, throw on your sneakers and head outside for a brisk stroll instead. A number of studies indicate that participating in aerobic exercise can help decrease tension, boost mood, improve sleep and improve self-esteem. The best part? You could experience anti-anxiety effects after just five minutes of aerobic exercise. Or, step away from the snacks and reach for the radio instead. Studies suggest that listening to music can elevate your mood and reduce stress levels. (Check out this article for even more reasons to crank up the tunes today).

Have a pet? Cash in on some extra cuddle time. Studies suggest that spending time with animals can help boost your mood and alleviate feelings of loneliness. Want even more reason to pamper your pet today? We”;ve got you covered with this article: 8 Reasons Your Pet is Good for Your Health.

Other strategies for avoiding emotional eating? Try calling a friend to discuss how you”;re feeling, or tackling that closet clean-out project you”;ve been putting off. And, if you find that you absolutely cannot cope without sitting down to a snack, make sure you opt for a healthier version of the food you”;re craving. If it”;s ice cream you”;re after, try one of these “;Nice Cream”; recipes. If crunchy, salty stuff has your heart, try making your own veggie chips or fries . You can also stock up on your favorite Nutrisystem snacks, so you”;ve got healthy options on hand when cravings strike. Here is a list of the 20 most popular Nutrisystem snacks and sweets.

The post 5 Signs You”;re Prone to Emotional Eating appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com