As a college student, they say most freshman gain weight – as we’ve all heard before, it is referred to as the Freshman 15. I, however, lost 30 pounds when I was able to make my own food decisions. When I became responsible for my own food choices, I knew it was time to become educated about the calorie and fat content of the food I was eating. When I actually did my research, I found there are some foods that should be exchanged for similar ones or just cut out all together to help you save calories.
Choose chicken instead of beef.
3 oz beef – 123 calories (32 from fat) and 98% of your daily cholesterol intake
4 oz grilled skinless chicken breast – 120 calories (14 from fat) and 23% cholesterol
You can eat an entire ounce more of chicken than you can of beef and still have fewer calories and less of a cholesterol intake. Red meat has always had a negative reputation for the amount of cholesterol in it and the relation to bad health and heart problems. Decreasing the amount of beef you eat and replacing it with grilled chicken breast can help you save calories, stay healthier, and subsequently, shrink your waistline.
Even when you go to a fast food restaurant, grilled chicken is a healthier choice. At McDonalds, you can save 90 calories and 16 grams of fat if you order a Premium Grilled Chicken Classic over a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
When I used to make a sandwich to take to school for lunch, I would use two slices of normal bread, which can average 85 calories per slice or more per slice (equaling 170 calories for the sandwich). I now use Arnold brand sandwich thins. They come together with two smaller slices made just for sandwiches. You can buy them in whole-wheat versions as well as whole grain. The entire sandwich then only contains 100 calories from the bread and less carbohydrates.
It is also important to cut out bagels completely from your diet – each one can contain over 200 or even 300 calories and more carbs than you would have ever imagined (a quarter of your daily intake). Bagels seem healthy, but they are full of unnecessary energy for your body and once you pile on the cream cheese or butter, you’ve taken in half of your calories for the day!
For myself, I have cut cheese completely from my diet and get my calcium instead from milk. Slices of cheese can contain upwards of 100 calories a slice, which can add up quickly! Eat cheese in moderation.
One of the biggest problems most people have with eating is not what they choose to eat but instead how much they eat. It is important to remind yourself how much a serving consists of:
Breads, Cereals, Pastas – 2 servings of rice or pasta equals about a tennis ball and one serving of bread is one slice, not the two that are required for a sandwich
Meat, Poultry – 3 servings equal about a deck of cards or your fist
Cheese – 2 ounces is one serving which can look like two 9-volt batteries
For more portion sizes, Columbia University has a great website with all portion equivalents, which I will post on the related links for your reference.
When you go out to restaurants, you can look up the menu beforehand and see how many calories are actually in the food you are eating – it will most likely be very surprising! Single entrees can contain over 2,000 calories and you’d never guess it. I live in New York City, and it has been quite alarming how many calories are in each of the things I usually ordered. At coffee places like Starbucks, you can always order with non-fat milk or sugar free syrup. If you want to order something at a restaurant with quite a few calories, you can always ask for a doggy bag right away and put half of it away to eat later – less food equals fewer calories!
Remember – just watch how much you’re eating and always try to choose the healthier choices. These are just a few general rules I follow, allowing myself only to eat 100-calorie packs for desert as it limits the calorie intake of sugars and sweets. It is also important to walk at least 30 minutes continuously during the day – you will feel better for it!