One of the biggest mistakes we make when trying to lose weight is skipping meals. Skipping does not promote weight loss; it actually promotes weight gain. If you wait too long to eat, when you finally do eat you eat too much too fast and you chose the wrong things. Not only should you not skip meals, you SHOULD eat in between meals as well. So, now you are thinking, “OK, Cheryl, you are telling me to lose weight I should eat MORE, not less?” Well, exactly — though not larger amounts, just more often.
Snacking is integral to a healthy diet. So, what do we mean when we say that? It does not mean to rip into a bag of chips every time you get the urge. It does mean to keep lots of healthy snacks available, so when you open the refrigerator you have what you need to make the right choices.
One good strategy for doing this is keeping enough cut up or snack-ready fresh vegetables on hand to keep you satiated (or feeling full) throughout the day. When storing fresh vegetables you want to aim to keep you refrigerator temp between 34°-40°, low enough to kill much of the bacteria that causes food to spoil quickly, but high enough so your veggies are crisp, but not frozen.
Carrots are a wonderful option. They are very high in beta-carotene, a plant substance converted by the human body into Vitamin A, essential for normal growth and development, immune system function, and skin and vision health. Beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant shown to help fight cancer and heart-disease, and something most people don’t get near enough of. You can buy a bag or two of those baby carrots and keep a it handy for snacking, or just slice some into spears (“baby” carrots is a misnomer and they are just larger carrots cut bite-size by machines anyway) and keep them in a sealed tupperware or plastic bag for up to two weeks. An entire cup of carrots has just 52 calories (plus nearly a day’s worth of vitamin C).
Cut Broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers, and summer squash or whole green or wax beans are all fine options to keep on hand and will stay fresh for at least 3-5 days if properly stored in an airtight container or bag.
Fruits intended to ripen after picking (tomatoes included) should not be refrigerated at all, and are lovely to keep out in the open in a bowl. Consider keeping whole apples, pears, peaches and nectarines within arm’s reach at home or your office for between meal snacks.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to healthy and convenient whole fruits and vegetables you have at the ready. No matter, how you snack, whether it’s simply biting into an apple, or preparing more elaborate snacks, its important to remember how important these tiny but vital meals are to a successful weight loss program.