Nutrition Notes: Tips for Fueling Body Well

Posted March 9th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Tips, nutrition

By March, many people find their good resolutions for healthy eating and exercise have fallen by the wayside. Statistics show that just six months after the New Year, more than half of those who made resolutions have broken them. Fortunately, you can still resolve to change; it is never too late to renew your commitment to improving your health.

If you have fallen back into your old habit of grabbing a quick doughnut or pastry treat early in the morning for convenience, remind yourself one doughnut contains more than 300 calories and is high in carbohydrates, fats and sugars. That one seemingly innocent treat can send your blood sugar soaring.

Your body may feel a sudden energy surge, but this will be spent quickly. Then your system will go through a rebound that can make you feel extremely tired and out of sorts.

This is the beginning of a seesaw effect in your body that is often fueled by snack foods high in sugar and carbohydrates. Remember how difficult it was to balance a seesaw perfectly on the playground? This balancing act is what you are forcing your body to do when you eat foods that contain no real nutrition, but are heavily loaded with unhealthy fats, sugars and simple carbohydrates.

So just exactly what do you need to eat if you want to get back on the path to good nutrition and health? For starters you need to avoid fad diets and stay clear of foods filled with empty calories, sugars and fats.

Here are a few basic guidelines to get you on the right track.

- Opt for a dietary program that is packed with whole grains, fruits, veggies as well as some healthy fats and oils.

- Be sure your daily meals contain good carbohydrates such as whole grains; do not eliminate all carbohydrates from your diet.

- Include plenty of fiber by eating a variety of fruits, veggies and whole grains.

- Choose lean, healthy protein sources such as poultry, nuts, fish and beans.

- Limit saturated and trans fats; choose oils that come from nuts, fish and plant sources.

- Select calcium-rich foods such as skim or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and vegetables.

- Add color to your plate by choosing a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

- Limit your use of salt and enjoy the rich, luscious flavors of the foods or add salt-free seasonings to enhance natural flavors.

- Plan ahead by creating a healthy shopping list or selecting restaurants that offer nutritious selections.

- Track your meals, exercise and medical information online or through a food diary such as the Get Fit Lee program, a local health initiative challenging Lee County residents to collectively lose one million pounds of body fat,

Often, making changes slowly can help you be more successful in creating new habits. Try incorporating one or more of these recommendations into your lifestyle each week. Over time, you will find that these nutritious choices will give you more fuel for your day and help improve your chances of successfully reaching your goals.

Read today’s News Article: Breakfast does matter – really

Posted March 2nd, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Tips

Everyone has heard it at some point in their lives – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Perhaps if you are awake enough to wrap your mind around a few important pieces of information, the concept of eating a balanced breakfast will be much easier for you to swallow.

Sure, a doughnut filled with luscious strawberry jelly might tempt your taste buds, but are those empty calories and tons of carbohydrates really worth the effort? Even if you try to balance your breakfast plate by adding a glass of refreshing cold milk, you will not tip the scales toward the “healthy breakfast” side.

The hours that pass between the time you go to bed and the time you wake up give your body the opportunity to rest, but they also leave your stomach virtually empty. So by rushing out the door and into the busy day ahead, you are leaving your body without the proper fuel it needs to perform at its optimum level.

Imagine how much easier it would be to run to the next staff meeting, focus on that important sales presentation or meet that afternoon deadline if you had all of the enduring energy that a healthy breakfast will provide.

Breakfast gives your body the energy it needs to sustain activity throughout the day. Research has found people who skip breakfast often feel more tired, irritable and restless in the morning. On the other hand, those who do eat breakfast have a better attitude toward work, higher productivity and enhanced ability to handle tasks that require memory.

Breakfast eaters also have more strength and endurance and better concentration and problem-solving ability. Plus, breakfast helps you reach your recommended number of vitamins and nutrients. A whole-grain cereal with milk and citrus juice can provide 100 percent of the vitamin C, 33 percent of your calcium, thiamin and riboflavin and a good supply of fiber, iron and folate.

Although the idea of waking up a few minutes earlier each day to prepare and enjoy a healthy breakfast might be completely out of the question, there are some great “to go” options. It’s important to plan ahead so that you have some nutritious items on hand that you can quickly combine to create a well-balanced and delicious morning meal that is light on the carbohydrates and calories but heavy on the “health and nutrition.”

By using a well-balanced combination of high fiber and protein, complex carbohydrates and low-fat items, you will not only feel energized and satisfied for longer periods of time, but you will also be adding important nutrients that your body requires to stay healthy.

Whip up an omelet using nutritious egg whites, diced onions and bell peppers, a light sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper with a side of tomato salsa. Make a steaming bowl of oatmeal and toss in some fresh berries or a handful of chopped walnuts, a few raisins and a touch of cinnamon.

For the “to-go” option, prepare it the night before so that you can simply grab it from the fridge and be on your way. Portion out a few slices of lean meat or a serving of tuna packed in spring water, a slice of low-fat cheese, a handful of whole-wheat crackers and fresh fruit for a breakfast-on-the-go that is as good for your taste buds as it for your health.

Regardless of the combinations you choose to use, remember that you should stick with a good balance of ingredients for a healthy and satisfying breakfast that will keep your tummy happy, calm your food cravings and give you the energy and endurance that will make you feel as though you are ready to go the distance instead of running out of fuel just an hour or two after finishing your meal.

Read my News Column: Healthy diet will help kids develop healthy teeth

Posted February 23rd, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Tips, Nutrition for Kids

A healthy, balanced diet supplies your children with all the nutrients they need to grow, including the proper development of healthy gums and teeth. With increased focus on the importance of oral health during National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, it is a good time to remind parents, grandparents and other caregivers about how their children’s nutrition choices can affect their oral health.

For example, we tell kids to drink milk for strong teeth and bones. From a dentist’s point of view, how important are milk and dairy products in keeping teeth healthy? Calcium is very important as teeth form, and milk and dairy products are the best source of calcium and can play a role in preventing cavities.

As young teeth develop, adequate calcium intake during childhood and adolescence is important for children in developing and maintaining healthy teeth throughout adulthood. In addition, many studies show that eating dairy products, especially cheese, after meals or snacks helps to prevent the bacterial coating on the teeth from converting food sugars to acid; reducing the risk for cavities. Cheese also stimulates saliva flow, which helps to clear acids from the mouth that can cause cavities.

Dairy products, again, especially cheese, can actually prevent teeth from losing minerals and in some people, may even restore minerals to teeth. Some studies even show that proteins and phosphorus in milk may reduce the risk for cavities.

Though eating more nutritious foods can help promote healthy teeth and gums, beware of those that can cause tooth decay. While some foods are obvious culprits, such as candy, juices and sodas, other foods high in carbohydrates such as fruits, peanut butter, crackers and potato chips increase the risk of cavities as well.

All sweet foods are not created equal. Sticky foods such as cookies and candies stick to the surface of teeth and linger. These foods should be limited because they stick to the teeth and saliva is unable to wash the sugar away.

In addition to food choices, dentists and dietitians believe that children who consume too much soda and not enough nutritional beverages are more prone to tooth decay in addition to serious ailments later in life, such as diabetes and osteoporosis. Drinking carbonated soft drinks regularly can contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel, which ultimately leads to cavities. If erosion spreads beneath the enamel, pain and sensitivity may eventually result. This can cause nerve infection and necessitate a root canal.

How can you help prevent this? Encourage your children to drink plenty of water. An article published by the Academy of General Dentistry recommends that school children should rinse their mouth with water after meals, especially at school. This leaves their mouth with a reduced sugar and acid content.

While we can’t follow are children around throughout their day with healthy snacks and a toothbrush, we can instill good habits by providing them with discipline and structure in making smart food and beverage choices and encouraging routine brushing and flossing.

Certain Foods Prevent Illnesses

Posted February 16th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Tips

In the same way that children wish for super hero powers, most of us would like to possess the ability to fight off the threat or onset of germs, the common cold or flu. In an average season, about 20 percent of Americans get the flu. This year, the H1N1 virus has led to many new flu cases, and finding ways to protect our immune systems from unhealthy invaders is mission critical.

Without super powers, we must rely on the forces we can control. Fortunately, foods with powerful nutrients and antioxidants can improve our immune system and help our bodies fend off viruses, toxins and even cancer cells. By including these nutrients in our daily eating habits, we can help strengthen a body’s immune system and improve our chances of staying healthy.

By increasing the number of white blood cells in the body, nutrients help rid our system of unhealthy toxins.

Important nutrients include beta carotene; vitamins C, D and E; iron, zinc; flaxseed oil; omega-3 fatty acids; garlic, selenium; and bioflavonoid which include citrus fruits, rose hips and other plants.

Topping the list are the three major antioxidant vitamins: beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables such as those with purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hues. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed; don’t overcook or boil.

Found in yellow and dark green vegetables, beta carotene increases the percentage of white blood cells in the body, acting as another defender of immunity. The best way to get beta carotene is in fruits and vegetables such as kale, spinach and carrots. 

Vitamin C enhances the function of immune cells and can be found naturally in citrus fruits, melons, berries, peppers, sweet potatoes and peas.

Vitamin E aids in the production of antibodies that destroy bacteria. In a Harvard School of Public Health study, researchers found that vitamin E lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Good sources for this vitamin are avocados, whole grains and greens.

In addition to the top super three above, Vitamin D is also essential to a healthy diet. Yogurt and other cultured milk products that contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria with immune-boosting benefits, are especially important. Look for the “live active culture” seal, which indicates that probiotics have been added. Early research shows that vitamin D may be linked to a seasonal increase in colds and flu and a higher incidence of respiratory infections.

In addition, iron is required for the body to manufacture white blood cells. Iron can be found in healthful foods such as apricots, lentils, kale and beets. Another important nutrient the body needs is zinc, to help heal wounds and strengthen its resistance to cold viruses. Zinc also is found in whole grains, seeds and beans.

The antioxidant selenium also is found in whole grains and seeds, as well as mushrooms.

Another immune-boosting hero, omega-3, is filled with fats that increase the activity of white blood cells that eat up bacteria and help strengthen cell membranes. These also speed up healing and strengthen resistance to infection in the body. In addition, flax oil and flaxseeds, salmon, mackerel, tuna, omega-3 eggs, nuts and seeds are all excellent sources of omega-3. An easy way to include omega-3 in your diet is to add ground flaxseed to baked goods, yogurt, cereal or smoothies

Garlic, with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents, can also increase immune function. Garlic is an antioxidant that reduces the build-up of free radicals in the bloodstream. In addition, garlic is a good source of sulfur, which is important for healthy liver function.

Bioflavonoid aids the immune system by protecting the cells of the body against pollutants trying to attach to them. A diet that includes several servings of fruits and vegetables daily will ensure that you get the bioflavonoid needed to help your immune system work the best.

In every superhero story, there are always the villains. When it comes to your body’s immune system, there are certain foods that pose a threat to the body’s defenses. For example, consuming too much sugar, equal to drinking two cans of soda, can reduce the body’s ability to kill germs. Alcohol intake can harm the body’s immune system, suppressing its ability to produce more white blood cells. The more alcohol is consumed, the more it suppresses the immune system.

In addition, foods high in saturated fat and oils can increase the risk of obesity and harm your body’s ability to fight disease. White blood cells have to fight harder to multiply or produce antibodies, leaving your body more susceptible to germs or other “invaders.”

If you aren’t getting enough antioxidants and other essential nutrients in your diet by eating produce, a physician or registered dietitian may recommend a multivitamin. However, some nutrients can only be found naturally in foods. Be cautious when considering immune system supplements to boost immunity. Consult your physician or a dietitian who can recommend the proper vitamin regimen. Getting too much can be toxic.

By adding these super foods to your diet, you can help your body prevent — or better fight off — colds or flu this season.

In addition, you can develop healthier eating habits and contribute to overall improved nutrition and health.

Read my News-Column: Eating well fights heart disease

Posted February 9th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in health, In The News, Meal Tips, nutrition

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. In February, the American Heart Association recognizes American Heart Month as it focuses on raising awareness about the prevention of cardiovascular disease, including good nutrition. Adopting healthy eating habits is one way to reduce your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on these recommendations from the American Heart Association:

- Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.

- Select fat-free, one percent fat or low-fat dairy products.

- Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.

- Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day.

- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.

- Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Anyone with hypertension, all middle-aged and older adults should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.

- Keep an eye on your portion sizes.

As part of a healthy diet, an adult consuming 2,000 calories daily should aim for:

- Fruits and vegetables: At least 41/2 cups a day

- Fish (preferably oily fish): At least two 31/2-ounce servings a week

- Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day

- Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day

- Sugar-sweetened beverages: No more than 450 calories (36 ounces) a week

Other nutrition measures:

- Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least four servings a week

- Processed meats: No more than two servings a week

- Saturated fat: Less than 7 percent of total energy intake

Be sure to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods daily. As always, small changes in lifestyle can make a big difference in improving your overall health.

Fuel your body right for Exercise

Posted February 2nd, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips

Whether you are establishing a new exercise routine, increasing your fitness or looking for ways to maximize your existing plan, your body requires proper nutrition and hydration before, during and after you exercise.

Nutritional guidelines specific to sports, cardiovascular and wellness nutrition are designed to help you understand how much, how often and what kind of nutrients your body needs to improve performance and recovery.

For example, before exercise, it is important to consume a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal, along with small amounts of protein to help build and repair muscle tissue and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness. Low-fat and low-fiber foods are best to ensure optimal digestion.

Three to four hours before exercise, you should eat and drink a small meal or snack. Ideas may include:

- Peanut butter and honey on toast with an instant breakfast drink;

- Fruit and yogurt cereal with low-fat granola;

- Oatmeal with brown sugar and almonds, skim milk and a banana; or

- Turkey and cheese sandwich with fruit and a sports drink.

In addition, approximately 30 to 60 minutes before exercise, you should eat a light snack such as a piece of fruit or a small jam sandwich. Also, drink plenty of water or a sports drink.

Nutrition and hydration during exercise also is important, particularly during prolonged exercise such as a marathon or long bike ride. This requires the proper mix and timing of fluids, carbohydrates and electrolytes. Too much can result in cramping or other intestinal problems. Too little hydration can cause dehydration, fatigue and impaired performance.

Easily digestible foods such as a banana, low-fat granola or nutrition bars are recommended during endurance training and events. In addition, you should always drink plenty of water or sports drinks that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes to help speed fuel to muscles.

For short duration exercise, less than 60 minutes, water is a good choice to drink before, during and after exercise.

Following exercise, eating for recovery is important to restore fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, replace muscle fuel utilized during activity and to provide protein to aid in repair of damaged muscle tissue and to stimulate development of new tissue.

If you have two training sessions per day or your next training session is within eight hours, nutrition recovery is crucial. Ideas for recovery snacks and meals include the following:

- Fruit and yogurt smoothie;

- Sports drink and nutrition bar;

- Graham crackers with peanut butter, low-fat chocolate milk and banana;

- Whole wheat pita sandwich with turkey and veggies; or

- Rice bowl with beans, cheese, salsa, avocado and whole grain tortilla.

A nutritional plan tailored to help you achieve your personal exercise goals will help you maximize performance and results. Experiment with foods and hydration to create a custom plan that what works best for you. A registered dietitian can assist you in designing a program based on the amount and intensity of your exercise schedule and your desired results.

Whether you participate in sports activities, aerobics, weightlifting or a competitive fitness program, following proper nutritional guidelines is critical to helping you achieve your goals.


Read my News-Press column: Nutrition Notes: Online data aids health effort

Posted January 27th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in The News-Press Column

With the recent launch of Get Fit Lee, a local health initiative challenging Lee County residents to collectively lose one million pounds of body fat, the concept of tracking your meals, exercise and medical information online or through a food diary can benefit participants or anyone needing nutritional and fitness support and guidance.

How it works

Most programs offer a quick view, summarizing your latest meal and caloric intake, calories burned and medical information. Online meal planning offers thousands of pre-built meal plans. Look for programs developed by registered dietitians that utilize a large database including popular brand-name and restaurant foods. In addition, many programs allow you to create your own plan according to your taste and needs.

For example, the wellness page on, an online tracking system, provides a quick view, summarizing your latest meal and caloric intake, calories burned and medical information. Daily tips and inspirational messages help you along the way.

The meal planning and tracking page will give you thousands of meal plans developed by registered dietitians.

The large database includes brand-name and ethnic foods and fast food restaurants.

If you prefer, you can use physician-recommended programs or create your own plan according to your taste and needs.

With online nutritional tracking programs, you have the ability to:

• Access information from a large database of foods including recipes, ethnic foods and fast food chains.

• Calculate exercise duration to burn excess calories.

• Monitor your health on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

• Upload data directly from your glucometer, an at-home blood sugar monitoring device.

• Monitor the effect that foods and exercises have on your health.

• Work with your dietitian, nutritionist, educator or personal trainer online in real-time.

• Benefit from knowing your information is 100 percent private and secure.

• Create shopping lists.

• Customize your meal plans.

• Get access to thousands of pre-built meal plans.

• Get nutritional facts on your recipes calculated for you. 

• View and print detailed reports in table or multiple graphic formats (blood glucose, blood pressure, pump entries, weight, height, caloric intake and expenditure)

• Log your progress in an online journal.

Whether you choose an online resource for tracking nutrition and exercise or you simply use a pen and paper, keeping track of what you eat is important, including calories and portion sizes, number of calories burned and emotions or feelings.

Food journaling is one of the most successful tools for people trying to lose weight. In fact, a recent study found that dieters who tracked their food intake lost twice as much as those who did not track their food.

By logging when and how much you eat, along with your physical activity, you can better monitor your eating habits and nutritional deficiencies, control binge eating and connect eating to emotions.

In general, you can hold yourself accountable for your fitness and nutrition.

Whether you track your progress online, participate in the Get Fit Lee or another fitness program, making small lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on your health.

FREE Nutritional Seminar – Everyone invited!

Posted January 26th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Uncategorized

I hope you can join me on Thursday, Jan. 27.  I’m hosting a FREE nutritional seminar. This informal event will discuss the dietary needs of people exercising on a regular basis.  Members and non-members are welcome. Refreshments will be served.

Wednesday, January 27th
10:00am & 6:15pm
Fitness on the Move
13010 Metro Parkway, Fort Myers

Don’t Miss This Event!
For more information, call Kelly Hawley, 239-634-4050 or

Read today’s News Column: Add appeal to diet resolution

Posted January 19th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Tips

As 2010 begins, healthy eating generally tops most people’s list of resolutions. As time goes on, it gets harder to stick to your good intentions. After a day or two of munching carrots and dry rice cakes, those high-calorie foods become more tempting than ever.

Slowly but surely, we begin to sneak those slices of pies and servings of yummy, cheese-covered casseroles back onto our plates.

In general, most people want to take better care of their bodies and shed unwanted weight. What most of us don’t want is to eat boring “rabbit” food and tasteless, unappetizing snacks. It is the lack of knowledge about food options, not necessarily an unwillingness to change, that sabotages the majority of healthy eating resolutions.

Instead of adding more salt and oil to give flavor and excitement to your meals, “fierce flavor” combinations make for a more satisfying and delicious meal that rank high in taste and visual appeal, without the high calories and fat. Here are some suggestions.

Spices are spectacular: Learn how to use a variety of spices to create some incredibly tasty, low-calorie dishes at home. Ground black pepper and garlic are common kitchen spices, but discover the difference that using more exotic ingredients can make. Saffron, ginger, rosemary, cinnamon, celery seed, curry powders, basil, fennel and dill can add zesty flavors to meats, salads, soups, stews and casseroles.

These intoxicating ingredients are as good for your body as they are for your taste buds. Even steamed carrots can become a favorite family dish when you add a bit of freshly grated ginger to the recipe.

Look for African and Middle Eastern spices and herbs such as harissa, berbera and charmoula to use in your cooking. Asian spices and herbs include items such as Chinese five spice, star anise, lemon grass and Japanese seven spice or shichimi-togarashi. If Eastern Indian cooking is one of your favorites, explore the possibilities of using ingredients such as sambar or garam masala.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and remember that fresh and high quality spices pack the most flavor and punch.

Powerful peppers: Never overlook the power of using a variety of peppers to spice up the taste of foods. Chili peppers very commonly are used in many recipes, but there are many other choices to consider.

Try flavoring up some of your favorite dishes with Anaheim peppers, baby bells, sweetly roasted red peppers, rocotillo varieties, banana peppers, poblanos or the insanely fiery power of the Scotch Bonnet pepper.

Most people have no idea that there are so many varieties of peppers available and even fewer realize that the spicy rocotillo pepper also has a sweet, fruity taste.

Choose colors: Make the most of the great assortment of produce that is available in 2010. Why settle for orange carrots and white cauliflower when you can bring vibrant color to your healthy veggie dishes?

Forget boring and bland foods. You and your family will be curious and excited to sit down to a low-calorie meal that includes a salad made with orange cauliflower and lemony, yellow-skinned cucumbers. You might also try a savory stew with multi-colored beans.

Another option is sweet and deliciously different white, yellow, red and purple carrots that are as fun to look at, as they are to eat.

With a better understanding of balancing options and adding flavor to healthy foods, there is no need to put off making more nutritious choices. By incorporating some of the small changes suggested above, you may find yourself an inch closer to meeting your healthy goals for 2010.

Read my News-Column: Small changes in eating mean big gains in health

Posted January 13th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Meal Tips

For many people, the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. The New Year is a good time to make a commitment to focus on living a healthier lifestyle. Even small changes in your eating habits can make a big impact on your health.

In addition, incorporating more exercise is important too. Simple tips that can make a difference in your health include parking farther from the building so that you have to walk more and burn more calories, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or cutting out all sugar drinks and drinking water instead.

When implemented daily, these easy lifestyle changes can help you get closer to reaching your goal of a healthy weight and feeling better.

For some, more significant changes must be made to get on track for healthy living. If you are thinking of starting a fad diet, be sure to do some research and consult with your physician to see if the diet is a safe and effective option for you.

Unfortunately, many diets deprive you of nutrients and can have a negative effect on your long-term health. In fact, consuming healthy food more often can actually help you drop those additional pounds. Be sure your diet includes plenty of complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables. Five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily are highly recommended.

In addition, find ways to reduce salt, fat and sugar intake. These are commonly found in fast food and processed food. Modify cooking methods to reduce the use of oil in cooking. Steaming, boiling, grilling and baking are good cooking methods. Avoid deep frying whenever possible.

Also, eat more moderately by monitoring your portions. Start cutting your quantities in half; you’ll be surprised at how filling and satisfying smaller portions can be.

To develop a healthy eating routine, plan ahead. Start off each day with a hearty breakfast.

Trade your breakfast bran muffin for a bowl of bran flakes. You can potentially save 83,000 calories per year. Follow your breakfast with a lunch and light dinner. Eat soup for lunch instead of a sandwich. This may help you save another 50,000 calories per year.

Be sure to eat nutritious snacks in between meals. Avoid junk food by replacing a candy bar with fruit. This small change can help you avoid gaining an extra 5 pounds per year. Eat more vegetables and fruit for snacks.

By eating less at meals and adding healthy snacks in between, your body will burn the calories quicker without storing as much excess fat. This also helps to keep your metabolism running efficiently all day long.

As always, drink plenty of water. Water works as an appetite suppressant and helps to ward off food cravings. It also helps to metabolize the fats in your body and keeps you properly hydrated.

In addition to making these small changes, one of the best ways to lose weight is to develop a support system. Get your entire family involved and start off with some simple little changes in your diet.

Stay the course and soon you will begin to see the results of your resolutions for the New Year.

May you have a healthy and happy New Year!