Tag Archives: healthy diet

On-the-run breakfasts can still meet nutritional needs

Breakfast on the run can still jumpstart your day (Photo by Ann Maniscalco)

A bowl of steaming oatmeal with a fresh-cut orange and a side of cinnamon toast, eaten leisurely with a couple of mugs of coffee is my choice of a day-starter. However, many people probably consider a “day-starter” the time their ignition keys make their car engine turn over.

And often, we don’t take time to eat. Yes, we all know how important a good breakfast is. The word comes from “break the fast”, which is exactly what the morning meal does. We may have not eaten for close to twelve hours, our physical engine is running on empty, and our metabolism is definitely stalling out.  Fuel is needed, but the morning time-crunch can prevent that from happening.

It’s so easy to grab a sugary treat as we breeze through the local fast-food joint, or run in the gas station. A fuzzy brain and some hunger pangs about 10:00 a.m. will probably be the results of this choice. However, a little pre-planning at the grocery store can help us fuel up and get our metabolism revving. A protein/carb duo is a wise morning choice, but in lieu of scrambled eggs and a whole-wheat muffin, the pictured breakfast can hold you in good stead. The Fiber One Chewy Bar provides a whopping portion of fiber to keep you satisfied (with only a few grams of sugar), the “pre-packaged, ready-to-eat” banana  is easy to consume and provides additional fiber, and a cup of milk (skim or 1%) provides needed calcium and also a chug-a-lug of protein. So in this quick “meal” (which you could grab-and-go, and  consume in five minutes before entering your workplace), you have good portions of healthy carbs, fiber, protein and calcium, all for about 325 calories.  

The fruit and milk are a healthy given, and there are many choices of breakfast-type bars on the market. Careful label-reading is advised, though, as some are loaded with sugar.

All in favor of a quick, healthy breakfast, raise your keys!

(A note from Slimvictory: if you’d like to receive my new articles as they post, you can subscribe on my home page. Your comments are welcome and appreciated.)



Filed under calorie reduction, counting calories, food, fruit, healthy eating, healthy weight loss, label-reading, meal preparation, menu planning, nutrition data

“Weighing” the calorie trade-offs

All calories are not created equal! Consider the pictured packet of dressing: it contains 250 calories of delicious creaminess to enhance a sizeable salad. Now let’s say you’re looking for a quick lunch, and you stop in your workplace cafeteria, pick up a greens-based salad and a pack of dressing, and chow down. As tasty as it will be, how many hours of hunger-relief are you going to get? By mid-afternoon or earlier, will your stomach be rumbling, sending you down the hall to peruse the vending-machine offerings?

Probably so. But consider the other food choices in the photo. A cup of this hearty chicken-and-dumplings and a medium-sized apple would “weigh-in” at about the same calories. (Now, I’m not talking about the glycemic index here, only a calorie-comparable, filling meal, and one that could be conveniently brought from home and quickly-nuked.) This would likely keep many of us with an average appetite satisfied longer, especially if we had a substantial breakfast, which is always a good idea.

Let’s take it a step further. When figuring your daily food-intake “budget”, suppose you want to stay around the 1400-calorie range. Many restaurant meals (often just an entrée) will come close to or exceed that number. Since most of us get hungry at least three times a day, if we choose to indulge in one of these mega-calorie meals, we have two choices: stay hungry or exceed our goal-intake. Spending a little time learning calorie counts of your commonly-consumed foods/meals can help you get more bang for your calorie-buck!

 (Note from Slimvictory – if you’d like to receive new posts by e-mail, please sign-up on my home page. Your comments are welcome and appreciated.)

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Gotta love those discretionary calories

Into every healthy eating plan, a bit of discretionary calories should be permitted. (Photo by Ann Maniscalco)

I’m not gonna be satisfied with a piece of dry toast when a teaspoon of low-fat margarine-type spread and a teaspoon of jelly will work wonders on such! Today I made some muscadine (AKA scuppernong) jelly from the grapes that grow wild in my back yard, and immediately fixed my mid-morning snack: a piece of my 50-calorie whole-wheat bread with a light coating of the spread and delectable jelly. The tasty toast-toppers added about 30 calories. 

Sometimes we are so conscious of cutting calories that we deprive ourselves of the little pleasures that would take months to add up to a pound. Let’s see…3000 calories that are required to add a pound divided by 30 calories for spread and jelly equals 100 days, in this case! Certainly self-control is needed, but extreme self-denial makes it hard to stick with one’s plan.

Now that I’ve stated my case, please excuse me while I lick these last lovely purple calories off the side of my mouth! 

What are some of your favorite discretionary calories?

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Celebrating the Big 5-0…weight-wise

Adding a spiritual focus to your weight-loss efforts can improve chances of success. (Photo by Ann Maniscalco)


Hubby and I celebrated a milestone yesterday. When we weighed in on the scale at a nearby hospital, we found we’d reached a joint weight loss of 50.5 pounds! (I’ve lost 23, and he’s gotten rid of 27.5.)  

 Even though I’m within a couple of pounds of my goal, I know this is not just a “diet” to get off of…I’ll have to stay vigilant with maintenance, eating pretty much like I’ve learned to do over these past months.


 Since one of my goals is to have a good balance in the four areas of my life (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual), I’m considering beginning a First Place 4 Health (Christian weight loss program) in my area, as there are none nearby. As many people have discovered, there is within each of us an intense longing for something more, and food is just one way people try to fill the void that only God can satisfy. After focusing so much on the physical side these past months, I now want to spend more of my time on the spiritual aspect. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).


 Yes, I’m looking forward to a rich feasting on God’s word…and no calories to count! For more info on the First Place program, log on to www.firstplace4health.com – you can find such things as program details, resources, success stories, their current newsletter, recipes, and how to locate a group near you.


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Filed under Christian weight loss programs, decisions, First Place 4 Health, food, healthy eating, healthy weight loss, making changes

Appetite suppressants – my totally non-scientific study

Could a bowl of soup (or half a sandwich) and a small piece of fruit eaten before mealtime help you eat less? (Photo by Ann Maniscalco)

Some of you read my other blog on “appetite suppressants”, but for those who didn’t, here’s a brief re-cap: As I roamed the aisles at my neighborhood pharmacy looking for some D-vites, an item in the weight-loss product aisle caught my attention. For $2.25 (plus tax), this one-serving bar is to be eaten a bit before a meal to help curb one’s appetite so he/she can eat less and still be satisfied. I decided to compare this bar with other “appetite suppressants”: before-meal noshings that have a comparable calorie content (approximately 160 calories).

One day, I tried “Product #1” (the bar), and then the next day, I chose “Product #2” (which turned out to be half a medium-sized banana and a cup of fat-free yogurt. I was anxious to see if the bar did a better-than-expected job of quelling the hunger pangs as they set in, and result in my eating a fair amount less than I normally would. If so, I’d almost consider it a meal substitute.

After consuming the bar with a cup of water 30 minutes (per package directions) before my lunch, I filled my plate with a little less food than I’d normally eat. By the time 30 minutes had elapsed, I was indeed less hungry, but not close to full. About an hour after my meal, I thought I might be overly-full, but that didn’t happen, and by late afternoon, the pre-supper hungries had set in.

The next day, I jumped through the same hoops, this time preceding my lunch with the fruit/yogurt combo. Amazingly (gasp!), my appetite was curbed yet again. The rest of the afternoon proceeded as did the previous day’s.

Well, my conclusion in this experiment (that, admittedly, has no shred of scientific accuracy or control) was that “product # 1” didn’t do any more toward helping me eat less lunch than did “product # 2”, because by the time I added the 160-calorie bar to my lighter meal, the calorie count was probably higher than it would have been normally.

 My personal opinion (FWIW): probably anything we consume (with that amount of calories) 30 minutes to an hour before a meal is going to diminish our appetite. And the yogurt/banana snack I chose was definitely cheaper.

Now this is not to say the bar is without merit, by far! It was quite delicious while providing 4 grams of fiber and 5 of protein. It’d be handy to carry one with me on days when I’m on the run and my mealtime may be delayed, or just as a healthy and satisfying treat. However, for normal days, I think I’ll just stick with my healthy eating plan, which usually includes a piece of fruit OR a half-cup 1% milk mid-morning.

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Filed under calorie reduction, counting calories, decisions, food, healthy eating, healthy weight loss, label-reading, nutrition data, snacks

Appetite suppressants – cheap and not-so

As I roamed the aisles at my neighborhood pharmacy looking for some D-vites, an item in the weight-loss product aisle caught my attention. For a mere $2.25 (plus tax), this one-serving bar is to be eaten a bit before a meal to help curb one’s appetite so he/she can eat less and still be satisfied.

Well, for a scientific experiment, and an excuse to nibble on something chocolate, I decided to shell out the money to check it out. The calorie count is a reasonable 160, but as I left the store, I began to consider what else I could eat to suppress my appetite for the same amount of calories and a lot less pocket change. Right off the bat, I thought of half a ham sandwich (with two ounces of lean ham on my 50-calorie bread) and a small piece of fruit. Seems a treat of this nature eaten half-an-hour before my meal would go pretty far to curb my appetite.

So the experiment will begin late tomorrow morning. I’ll try “Product #1”  (the bar), and then the next day, I’ll sample “Product #2 (the sandwich/fruit combo). I’m anxious to see if the bar does a better-than-expected job of quelling the hunger pangs as they set in, and result in my eating considerably less than I normally would. If so, I’d almost consider it a meal substitute. My well-researched report will be posted early next week.

As we face the daily weight-loss eating decisions, we learn what works for us and what doesn’t. After reading so many reports about the body not needing but four to five ounces (or the equivalent) of protein daily (for my calorie level), I’ve found I need a bit more to keep me satiated. I’m discovering also, as I approach my goal weight, that a moderate amount of exercise isn’t going to do the trick to sustain continued loss, even when combined with eating right. I’ve gone from thinking 30 minutes several times a week is sufficient, to realizing it’s going to take more like an hour on most days, plus giving up a bit more precious calories!

What are some things you’ve learned on your journey?

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Exercise for weight loss: think half-and-half

I wonder how many calories I've burned off with these! (Photo by Ann ManiscalcoTo see our weight loss progress gain momentum, we’d do well to combine eating better (not necessarily “less”) and exercising more. According to the www.mayoclinic.com web site:

 “Because 3500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. So if you cut 500 calories from your diet each day, you’d lose about 1 pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3500 calories). Exercise along with cutting calories helps boost your weight loss. Exercise is also important for maintaining your weight and not regaining weight.”

The article goes a bit further with crunching the caloric numbers. In stating the recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services for healthy adults, it suggests at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate aerobic activity weekly, which could average out to 30 minutes, five days a week. It also suggests we “include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in [our] daily routine”.

 So think half-and-half to balance your calorie expenditure – half-an-hour of aerobic exercise (one that gets your heart rate up: brisk walking, swimming, jumping rope, jogging, bicycling, for example) and half-an-hour of other activities such as housework, shopping, or gardening…whatever “moves” you).

 Wondering how many calories you burn with various activities? It really depends on age, weight, intensity and other factors, but here are a couple of sites that can help you gauge the effectiveness of your activity:

 Consuming 250 calories less a day (it’s not hard – think approximately one 20-ounce cola, 1 large hamburger bun, 2 ounces of ranch-type dressing, or about 2/3 cup of ice cream, for starters) and burning 250 through an exercise you enjoy will result in the 3500-calorie weekly deficit required to lose a pound. Of course, results vary, but this is a helpful guideline to make sure your caloric output exceeds your input!

 ***A couple of questions  from slimvictory: What are some of your favorite exercises? Do you find it hard to commit to a regular program of physical activity?


Filed under calorie reduction, counting calories, exercise, food, healthy eating, healthy weight loss, making changes, nutrition data, physical fitness, walking