09/18 2012

Skip the Chips – Step into a Healthy Fall

Nacho-Cheese-Doritos-Bag-Small

As I mentioned in greater depth last week, baby steps can go a long way in developing healthy habits that stick. If you turn your life upside down to eat better or exercise more, you may end up right back where you started. There’s only so much change our bodies can handle at one time!

As we turn the clocks back for the fall season, it’s a good time to make some healthy life adjustments. It can be tougher to stay as active and eat as well when the days are shorter and the bathing suit is buried in the bottom of the sock drawer.

Since healthy living is an ambiguous goal, perhaps you can narrow down your aspiration a bit further. Is you big goal to:

  • Lose weight?
  • Eat healthier?
  • Get in shape?
  • Improve work/life balance?

Today, I’m going to share an example of a small adjustment to eat healthier and feel better.

Know What!

Would you rather dive into a bag of Doritos or skip dinner and go straight to dessert? Most of us are a sucker for either sugar or salt, and this dictates our innermost weakness when it comes to food.

For years, I was able to control my cravings for chips; in fact, I rarely bought salty products and wasn’t even tempted to do so. Then I got married and had a child, and everything changed. My family members can hardly live without Doritos and Cheez-Its, and I always tease my husband, Rob, when he eats half a bag 30 minutes before dinner. In fact, Luke and I play games by hiding chips from him if we want to save any for ourselves. Does this happen in your household?

What if you focused on kicking the salt habit for the month of October? Though some of you may have the discipline to eat chips in small quantities, for most, one or two is not enough. So kick the habit! Skip the chips and crackers and other salty treats for an entire month and substitute something healthy in its place.

Then see if you notice a change in how you feel.

Know Why!

We all know that chips aren’t particularly good for us but that doesn’t keep us from eating them. Especially at 5:30 when we’re starving and dinner’s not yet ready. It’s hard to resist the temptation!

Here are some fun facts to help get you motivated.

One ounce of Cape Cod Potato Chips Chips adds 150 calories to your daily intake, not to mention 8 grams of fat and 110 mg of sodium.

Cape Cod – Potato Chips (Kettle-Cooked)

Serving Size: 1 ounce or 28 grams

Calories 150 Sodium 110 mg
Total Fat 8 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 1 g Total Carbs 17 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 1 g
Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 0 g
Trans 0 g Protein 2 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin A 0% Calcium 0%
Vitamin C 10% Iron 2%

Doritos tell a similar story, except there’s twice the amount of sodium in a single serving (=11 chips).

Doritos – Nacho Cheese

Serving Size:  11 chips

Calories 150 Sodium 210 mg
Total Fat 8 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 2 g Total Carbs 17 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 1 g
Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 1 g
Trans 0 g Protein 2 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin A 2% Calcium 0%
Vitamin C 0% Iron 0%

I thought Stacy’s Naked Pita Chips, which are baked, might yield more promising numbers. But sadly, the stats are pretty similar, with a slightly preferred fat profile:

Stacy’s – Pita Chips – “Simply Naked”

Serving Size: 1 ounce or 28.3 grams

Calories 150 Sodium 110 mg
Total Fat 8 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 1 g Total Carbs 17 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 1 g
Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 0 g
Trans 0 g Protein 2 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin A 0% Calcium 0%
Vitamin C 10% Iron 2%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

I’m not trying to pick on a particular brand, but I’m suggesting that by eating two handfuls of chips, you easily add about 300 calories to your day plus unneeded fat and sodium. You succumb to your weakness with very little to gain in return – no nutrients to provide energy.

Know How!

Knowing these facts is one thing but doing something about it is another. I have experimented with a number of strategies over the years, before and after marriage, to eat less of the tempting salty stuff. Perhaps a few of these might work for you, too.

1)      Don’t buy chips at the grocery store. This will force you to turn to healthier alternatives for snacks and side dishes.

2)      Don’t ask for a bag of chips the next time you are offered a box lunch at work or visit your local Subway.

3)      Eat the main dish before diving into the chips. You might be surprised that you are too full to eat them anyway.

4)      Opt for a healthier side dish if you’re eating out.

5)      And do the same when you’re eating at home.

6)      Get creative with pre-dinner snacks. Though I don’t advocate filling up on appetizers, you can get creative with small, healthy treats. If you’re serving a salad with dinner, have your spouse or children eat theirs before dinner is ready.

7)      Substitute fruit or nuts for chips in your child’s lunch. Chips are an effortless scapegoat to fill the lunchbox with little/no effort, but these healthier alternatives are easy, too.

Know When!

Giving up salty treats may not be as easy as it sounds, so enlist your friends and family to help. Challenge them to be part of fun so that skipping chips becomes more of a game and less of a sacrifice.

1)      Challenge one another to forego chips for a month. If anyone breaks the chain, they owe the other family members something in return (e.g., money, a massage, a clean kitchen).

2)      Ask your family to reward (or punish you) if you successfully delete chips from your diet (or not).

3)      Enlist colleagues at work and/or friends to join in the fun as well. Often, the more social, the more successful a challenge can be.

Stay tuned for more ways to step into a healthy fall!

All nutrition values found at myfitnesspal.com.

Image found at wikipedia.

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