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13 Jun

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The Importance Consistency

12 Jun

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In our blog we often give tips on how to live a healthy and active life. One thing that goes above everything is consistency. If you want to make progress, and improve your fitness and overall health you need to be consistent – and that’s that!

This consistency needs to apply to both exercise, and healthy eating. You can have the best workout or nutrition program in the world – but if you aren’t consistent with it, you aren’t going to get very far now are you??

If you eat healthy 50% of the time and really terribly the rest, you will not improve your health to the degree you could if you ate well 90% of the time and kinda poorly 10% of the time or less. If one week you workout once for 30 minutes, the next you workout for 1 hour 5 days a week and then you take 3 weeks off – that is not consistent! You will not be able to improve your fitness this way.

Now when we say consistency, of course we don’t mean that you always have to eat clean, or that you should be working out nonstop. You need to give yourself breaks, and allow yourself cheats. What we mean by consistency is that health and fitness are a constant in your life. By exercising regularly and making healthy choices each day, you can make maintain consistency, meaning that when you do have  a doughnut or a dipped ice cream cone from DQ, it’s not a big deal because you know it’s a treat. If health and fitness are a constant in your life, you can enjoy life’s pleasures every so often, and not feel guilty about it.

How to be Consistent

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This is why we are all about planning! Planning your meals and workouts in advance helps maintain consistency. It is much easier to eat clean if you know that you are having for each meal and have done your grocery shop accordingly. And it is much easier to stick with your workouts if you know what routines you are doing, when and where you are doing them and have scheduled them into your life.

If you are new to living a healthy and active life, we suggest taking things one step at a time to ensure you are able to maintain consistency. You may be super excited to start exercising and eating well –and that’s great- but, if you take on too much too soon – you likely won’t be able to keep it up and be consistent. Make sure that when you are developing your healthy eating and workout plans, you are developing something you know you can be consistent with. Once you have been able to maintain that consistency for a while (and start to see improvements in your health and fitness J) take it a little bit further because at that point in time you should be hooked into the awesomeness that is living healthy!

If you are finding that you are not being consistent with your healthy eating or exercise routine, take a step back and re-evaluate to figure out the real reason why you aren’t able to maintain consistency. Are your goals realistic? Are you getting bored of your workouts? Have you hit a plateau? Once you figure out what’s standing in the way of you and consistency – modify your program so that you can jump back in with two feet.

Benefits

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When you workout with  consistency, you will be able to gradually build up to higher levels of cardiovascular strength, strength training and flexibility. This gradual build is important because it will allow your body a chance to adjust to the new strains and challenges, and become stronger.

If you follow a consistent healthy eating and workout regime, it will also help reduce stress and increase your mental well being. After finishing a workout you have probably experienced a natural “high”- this is because when you exercise, your body releases endorphins that enhance your mood. I am sure you have also probably experienced low energy levels and a decrease in mood when you go a long time without exercising. If you stick to eating well and workout out regularly you will keep positive physical and mental feelings going.

Another huge benefit of consistently maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is that your body won’t yo-yo. There is nothing worse that falling off a program, packing on the pounds and then having to work twice as hard to get back to where you were. By being consistent with your regime, you will avoid this problem all together!

 

S & L

Healthy Summer Meal-Salmon and Grilled Corn Relish

11 Jun

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Last week we had my sister over for dinner and decided to try a new recipe. We found this great salmon and corn relish recipe from Cooking Light, and it was a hit! Definitely being added to our repertoire! We of course made a few of our own little tweaks to it J, but for the most part we followed the recipe.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!

S & L

Ingredients

  • 4 Aheim Chiles (Jalapenos work if you can’t find Aheim)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 shucked ears corn
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets Click to see savings

Preparation

  1. Prepare grill.
  2. Place chiles on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until blackened. Place chiles in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel chiles; cut in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and membranes. Cut chiles into 1/4-inch strips.
  3. Place corn on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Cool slightly. Cut kernels from cobs.
  4. Combine chiles, corn, tomato, cilantro, and juice; toss gently. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  5. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and cumin, stirring well. Rub spice mixture evenly over both sides of salmon. Place salmon on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with relish.

Cynthia Nims, Cooking Light
JUNE 2007

The Truth About Trans Fatty Acids (Trans Fats)

10 Jun

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If you were to walk down the chip or cookie aisle at your local grocery store, you’d see many packages bragging about the fact that they are “trans fat-free”. In the last couple of years, there has been an all out attack on trans fats; from forcing food producers print the amounts of trans-fat on food labels, to restaurants claiming to be “trans fat-free” – there has been a strong movement to get rid of trans fats from the foods we eat. But why?

Today’s post is all about trans fat: how it’s made, which foods have it, and why it should never be consumed by any human being.

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Small amounts of trans fats are found naturally in many kinds of animal meats. Because these are natural fats, they aren’t dangerous (just don’t go eating 3 pounds of bacon each day).

Food producers used to use lard and other solid sources of fat to add flavour to their products. However, as people started to speak out about the health problems caused by these fats, manufacturers moved to man-made substances: hydrogenated fats to replace the other fats. The problem is, the new hydrogenated fats are just as bad, if not worse than the older kind.

This dangerous fat comes from a lab… that’s rights a laboratory, where scientists have created a way to create trans fat, through the process of hydrogenation. Hydrogen atoms are added to liquid fats like vegetable oil to make them a solid, and remain solid at room temperature. The problem is, this process creates trans fatty acids (trans fats).

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Trans fats are dangerous. Eating trans fats, even in small amounts, can dramatically increase your chances of heart disease and increase levels bad cholesterol in your body.

So, which kinds of foods contain trans fat?

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The following foods are known for their trans fat content: margarine, crackers, cookies, doughnuts, baking mixes, chips, chocolate bars, many kinds of snack foods, fried foods and vegetable shortenings.

Many restaurants use hydrogenated oils to fry their foods, so watch out for anyhting fried: wings, french fries, chicken fingers and onion rings.

Despite the fact that a package of food may say “0% trans fat”, the only way to make sure the product doesn’t have ANY trans fats, is to make sure that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening isn’t  listed as any ingredient. Food manufacturers can be sneaky, so be prudent!

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Motivation

9 Jun

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Self-Motivating During a Work Out

7 Jun

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We have written a lot about motivation and how it helps you follow through and stick with healthy habits. But let’s say you have found your “why” and you are up and ready for your workout…then what? How to stay motivated throughout your workout to make sure that you aren’t giving it a half ass effort? Hopefully this post will help answer that question!

Self-motivating plays a huge role when you are exercising. A lot of times our minds will tell us to stop when in fact our bodies can handle more. If you are able to motivate yourself, and push yourself past barriers you will be getting the most out of your workouts, and you will be able to improve.

One thing I want to say before I get into the good stuff, is that self-motivating has the word self in it for a reason. It is about how you motivate yourself. So if you are working out with others, please don’t compare yourselves to them because everyone is unique and different. We all have different strengths and weakness’ and at the end of the day you want to do your best – not your best friends best, or your boyfriends best, or the best of that chick beside you in your exercise class!

Alright so now I am ready to get into it -here are some “tricks” we use for self-motivating during workouts.

Start Positive

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First of all, you need to start your workouts with a positive mindset – get your head in the game! If you start in a negative place thinking it’s going to be really hard or that you aren’t going to be able to get through it, you probably won’t. You need to start in a good place so that you can end in a good place.

A good way to get into that positive mindset is to think of your “why”. What is it that motivates you to exercise and live healthy? When your workout starts to get tough, think back to your “why” and it might just give you the boost you need.

Visualization

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Visualization can be a great way to self-motivate. Think about where you are now, and where is it that you want to get to. This can be interpreted in a couple different ways. It can be visualizing where you are in terms of your fitness level – for example, you are able to do 5  pull ups but you want to be able to do 10. Visualize yourself doing those 10 pull ups and let that drive you. If you want to look smoking your bikini this summer, visualize yourself on the beach looking amazing, wearing that bikini! It can also mean where you want to be in terms of a location. Right now I am training for the Rideau Lakes tour, so I have been on my bike as often as I can. When I am cycling and finding myself needing some self-motivation, one of the tools I use is visualizing that last stretch of the ride. Picturing myself going up that last (steep!) hill, and onto the road leading to the finish really helps to motivated and drive me to push myself right to the end. Using your imagination can be an extremely powerful tool when exercising.

Get Comfortable being Uncomfortable

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In order for you to progress you need to be pushing yourself. So, your workout should never get to the point where it is easy. If it’s easy, it’s not worth it, you will not improve- so make it harder. You want your workout to be difficult; you want to be challenged by it – that’s the point! As a wise man (Shaun T) once said “The work doesn’t start until you’re tired”. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable-tell yourself that it’s okay to be uncomfortable and let your body feel changes happening and progress being made. When you are tired, and uncomfortable that is when change is made – if you keep this in mind while you are working out, it may just help you continue to push through!

Aim for Improvement/Set Mini Goals

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As you know, I have been training for a sprint triathlon. The biking and running parts didn’t intimidate me, but the swimming…well that scared the crap out of me. You see, I am was not a swimmer. I have very curly, high maintenance hair, which means yes; I am one of those people who don’t like getting their hair wet. The first time I went to the pool I did one length and was exhausted. I had no idea how my lungs or my body would ever be able to handle doing 47 more of them!  But, I told myself that I would and could improve. Every time I go to the pool I aim to do better than the last time, and so far so good! Your improvements don’t have to be extreme, any improvement is good. Set mini goals for yourself during your workout. For example “for this set of bicep curls I am going to have perfect form”, or “for this set of squat jumps I am going to squat lower and jump higher”. These mini goals give you something specific to work towards during your workout and achieving them will feel great and motivate you to keep going.

Write Things Down

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When you are working out, we recommend writing everything down. How many reps did you do? How much weight did you use? Was it easy? Should you increase your weight? This is a great way to track your progress, and seeing your workout results on paper can be a strong motivator. If you didn’t do as well as you had hoped it can light a fire under your ass to work harder next time, and if you did do well, it can give you an ego boost and encourage you to do even better the next time. So before you start the exercise, check to see how you did the last time you did it and let that motivate you to match it or improve upon it.

Talk to Yourself

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This may sound crazy, but I know for me personally this is one of my go to ways to self-motivate. You don’t have to talk to yourself out loud (although when I am alone climbing in Gatineau Park I totally do J ), you can talk to yourself in your head. Give yourself positive affirmations like “good job” “you’ve got this” “you are strong” “you are powerful”. Anything you can think of to empower yourself. Don’t put limitations on what you can do, and be your number one cheer leader! You’d be amazed at how powerful words can be and how much they can motivate you.

Give Yourself Checkpoints

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This is another one of my go-to self-motivating tools, especially when I am doing any sort of cardio workout. I break the workout down and give myself checkpoints. For example, when I am running I will give myself checkpoints along the way, they can be anything from certain street lamp, a building, a bridge…it all depends on what you pass on your route. When I am swimming, I break my session into blocks of laps and countdown each block before starting the next. By breaking my workouts up this way I am able to self-motivate to get to each one. Once you reach a checkpoint you will feel a sense of accomplishment and that feeling will drive you to the next checkpoint and so on.

Be Present

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When you are exercising it is easy to think about what you are going to have for dinner, what happened at work that day, what your plans are for the weekend…basically anything other than the task at hand. But this is no good. Not only can it mean you may risk injuring yourself due to lack of focus, it also means you probably aren’t doing your best. In order to do any of the “tricks” I talked about above, you need to be in the moment. Put all other thoughts out of your brain, and focus on what you are doing in the moment and the purpose behind it. Being present will put you in the right head space to be able to self-motivate.

Be Self-Forgiving

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Part of being self-motivating is being able to be self-forgiving. There will be times that you will “fail” and won’t do as well as you wanted even with using these self-motivating tools.  But that’s okay. It happens. The key is to be self-forgiving so that you can dust yourself off and try again- just like Alia taught us J. No one is perfect; so no workout will be perfect, there will always be room for improvement. If you are able to forgive yourself for your “failures” and reflect on what went wrong, or where you could have done better you will be able to apply yourself and do better the next time. Have the courage to continue. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

When you are exercising it is important to keep in mind that the effort you put in during that workout will be how you get yourself closer to your why. There may be moments when you think you can’t do it – but you can. You would be amazed at what we can train our bodies to do!

When you do succeed – celebrate those successes. If you have put in the work, and accomplished a goal, reward yourself for that – just try to do it in a healthy way so that you don’t undo all your hard work! Believe it or not, celebrating these successes is a motivating tool in itself. That “you did good” feeling is a great one – and knowing what it feels like will drive you to try and achieve it again.

Being able to self-motivate will not only help you out during a workout – it can help in other aspects of your life as well. It is important to always believe in yourself and not be afraid to push yourself. You have the power within yourself to succeed!

L

Healthy Ordering Restaurants – Breakfast

6 Jun

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Quite some time ago we wrote a post all about how to order the healthiest dinner options when you are at a restaurant (to read it click here). We decided it was about time we did the same thing for breakfast!

As you know, we like to eat as healthy as possible. That can be a very challenging task when we in a restaurant because for the most part the items on the menu and the way the food is prepared is not as healthy as it can be. So what do we do? Well, we modify our orders to suit our wants and needs. Some people may think this is too intense, or unnecessary, but at the end of the day you are the one sitting down and paying for the meal, so you should be allowed to have some say in what’s put in front of you. Just remember to ask politely!

This post will go through some of the ways you can ensure that your breakfast is as healthy as possible!

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Before going to the restaurant…

Before we go out to eat somewhere we check out the menu online first. Again with the planning, I know! But it really does help. Most restaurants post their menus online and some even have a section on their website where they list the nutritional information. If you go check it out ahead of time, you will be able to go into the meal with some sort of game plan and be better equipped to make healthy choices.

When ordering….

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you are wondering how something is made or what it is cooked in, don’t be afraid to speak up. You have every right to be informed about what you are putting in to your body! A lot of foods at restaurants are cooked in butter, have sugar added to them and are high in sodium – even healthy foods may be prepared in unhealthy ways. So the more you know the better!

Here are a few tips and tricks that may help you out when ordering breakfast…

Eggs

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When you go out to a restaurant for breakfast, eggs are definitely a staple. Whether they are scrambled, sunny side up, poached or over easy- they will be on the menu. Eggs are a great source of protein, so if you’re looking for a healthy breakfast, we suggest you include them. Personally, we don’t often eat the egg yolks and that’s because the yellow of the egg contains cholesterol. Some restaurants will serve you egg whites – so ask and see if that is an option. If it is not, don’t be discouraged, we have the perfect trick! Order your eggs over hard (apparently that’s a thing!) and when you get your eggs, cut out the yellow and put it to the side. Voila- egg whites!

Eggs in restaurants are also normally cooked in oil or butter – and you never know how much of it will be used. If this is something you want to avoid, go for poached or hard boiled eggs instead of fried.

Omelets

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Although omelets are made with eggs, we thought they deserved their own little section. We love omelets- the eggs are an excellent source of protein and you will get vitamins and minerals from the veggies. Again, ask your server to see if they will make you an egg white omelet – it’s not usually on the menu as an option but a lot of places now will make them for you. As for the other ingredients in your omelet, we recommend getting as many veggies as you can in there and skipping the cheese. We never make our omelets with cheese, so we know it can be done!

Breads

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Toast is almost always a “sides” option when you are going out for breakfast. If you are going to order toast, we recommend going with a whole wheat/grain toast over white. Another trick to making your breakfast as healthy as possible is to ask for your toast without butter or “dry”. If you don’t – it will absolutely come loaded with the stuff! Butter is not good for you…its basically just eating fat…so steer clear! You will also be brought 2 slices of toast…so if you are looking to make a healthier choice, ask for just the 1 slice instead. You probably don’t need that second slice anyways, but if it’s on your plate you will most likely eat it. And if you don’t, well then you are just wasting food! You can eat your toast plain, with a tiny bit of jam or peanut butter (but keep in mind there is sugar added to them!) OR you can make yourself a little egg white sandwich ;).

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Bagels are also normally on breakfast menus…but if you are going to have a starchy carb with your meal, we suggest going for toast over a bagel. A bagel is the equivalent of 6 slices of bread….in our opinion; you don’t need 6 slices of bread in one sitting. We recommend not ordering a bagel at all -especially if it is going to come with a pound of cream cheese on top.

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Croissants are another classic breakfast food (along with other pastries). But basically a croissant is butter. And you know how we feel about butter. So, if you are presented with the option for a croissant or toast, we suggest going for the toast .

Meats

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Now we may be slightly bias when it comes to meats because we do not eat pork of beef…and those are normally the only meat options when you go out to a restaurant for breakfast. The options you will be presented with will be 3 different processed meats: bacon, sausage, ham.

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Let’s start with the bacon. About 68% of bacon’s calories come from fat, and about half of that is saturated fat. Saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.  Because bacon is a cured meat, it is high in sodium and contains nitrate (a preservative). There are about 60 calories per slice, but add on some more because your bacon with be fried in oil and butter. Not to mention I am sure you will be served more than one slice! If you are still going to order bacon here are some options to make it “healthier”. You can order just one slice of it, cut off any excess fat that’s one the bacon, and use a napkin to blot it which will help take away some of the grease. There are other “bacon” options that are a bit better for you such as turkey or chicken bacon, so before ordering check to see if either of those is an option.

You may think to yourself, “I need sausages because they are a good source of protein.”

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The truth is that the quality of the meat isn’t great in most breakfast sausages, as they are highly processed and high in fat. Most breakfast sausages are made from pork. Pork sausages are high in both saturated fat and cholesterol – both of which should be avoided. Like bacon, you rarely have just one breakfast sausage, which means more fat and cholesterol… not to mention a ton of sodium! Personally we try to avoid sausages of any kind as they are highly processed… who knows what’s really in them?

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Lastly, the ham. Because ham is a cut off pork, we know it’s going to be high in fat. In some cases, nearly half the calories in a serving of breakfast ham comes from the fat!… not good. Like it’s breakfast meat counterparts, ham is high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium – all of which should be avoided. Ham isn’t AS processed as other meats like sausages, however, it’s high fat content make it something that should be avoided.

If you are a die-hard meat eater and need meat with your breakfast, then we recommend watching the portions. If you know your plate will come with 3 pieces of bacon, ask for 1 instead. If you want the meat because you want the protein, keep in mind that the eggs you are going to order are a great source of protein and they are not processed like these breakfast meats.

Because of the high quality protein found in the eggs, you can always substitute the meat for a cup of fruit!!!

Home Fries & Hash Browns

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Home fries and hash browns are potatoes that have been fried in different ways. If you read our post about ordering a healthy dinner in a restaurant, you may remember that “fried” was one of the words we told you to watch out for. The same thing applies here. There isn’t any way that we could think of to change up either of these things to make them healthier -other than not eating them with ketchup or any additional salt. You can always see if the restaurant can make you a baked potato if you really want one…or you can skip it all together and replace it with something else like fruit! 😉

Pancakes, Waffles & French Toast

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If you are not going for a classic egg breakfast, chances are you will be going for one of these instead. If you are not making these yourself, you won’t be able to change the way that they are made – but one thing in your control is what goes on top of them. We suggest ordering them without any butter, whip cream or any other unhealthy topping them may come with. See if they have a natural maple syrup (meaning no Aunt Jemima) and just use a tiny bit. Another great option is to ask for a side of fresh berries so you can put them on top-mmmmm!

Beverages

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Juices are normally loaded with added sugar, so although you think because you are having orange juice with your breakfast you have made a healthy choice- that’s probably not the case. If you do want to order juice, ask the server if it has any added sugar, if it does, we recommend sticking with water.

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Coffee and tea are other classic breakfast beverages. If you are ordering coffee or tea, try to drink them black or with a little bit of milk. At first you may not like the taste of black coffee or tea, but it will grow on you we promise! I am sure the first time you had a cup of coffee you weren’t lovin it right away – it is an acquired taste. The same applies to drinking it black. When you add cream, milk and sugar to your coffee you are adding many empty calories.

Other Tips…

Here are a few other suggestions we recommend

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  • Don’t add salt before tasting your food. There is almost always salt added to your food already, so you probably don’t need to add more. OR even better, ask if they can use less salt!
  • Watch your portions – if you know that the restaurant services large portions ask for less, or bring leftovers home. Contrary to what your parents may have told you as a child, you do not need to finish everything on your plate.

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  • Make substitutions. We can almost guarantee that the restaurant will have fruit. So if you are looking to give your meal a makeover, sub one of the unhealthy options for a bowl of fruit. You know the veggies they use in omelets? Well, perhaps they will let you have a side of those – it doesn’t hurt to ask!
  • Share! If you are out with other people and you can’t decide on what you want, have everyone order different things and share your meals.
  • Go for quality! Do some research and look for quality breakfast spots in your area. They are the places that will most likely use fresh ingredients, have more options and be more willing to make substations for you.
  • Make it special. Going out for breakfast (or any meal for that matter) doesn’t have to be something that you do all the time. Make it something you do every so often so that when you do go, you won’t feel as guilty treating yourself. Your wallet and your waist line will thank you!

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  • Choose 1 splurge. You don’t need to have bacon, with a cream cheese bagel, home fries, chocolate milk and a side of pancakes with whip cream and syrup. If you know that you want to have bacon, keep the rest of the meal light and healthy.

As we said in our dinner post, when you go out to eat part of the experience is having someone else prepare a meal for you. Since you are not making it yourself, or standing in the kitchen watching the Chef prepare it – you won’t know everything that’s in it. For the most part no typical meal out with be 100% healthy – but if this is something you only do every once and awhile, that’s okay! This post is intended to help you learn some new tips and tricks for little changes you can make to your meal to make them healthier- we hope it helped!

S & L