The New Year is in full swing! For many that means starting a diet, workout program, or another method of self-improvement. Have you thought about what you want to work on this year? Chances are it involves losing a little excess weight after the holidays. If you are like many people, you don’t have a lot of time or money to invest in diet programs, weight loss books, or a fitness tracker. Instead of a complete diet overhaul, you might be better off just making a few quick, effective changes to improve your health. Here are some simple ways to help your body knock off a few of those extra pounds without much effort.

  1. Eat (the right) breakfast: A good breakfast goes a long way for keeping you on track with weight loss. It helps start your metabolism in the morning by telling your body that your fast is over and to start burning calories for fuel. It provides energy for your brain and body to stay mentally focused, resist cravings, and will make you less likely to overconsume calories later in the day. The problem with a typical breakfast is that people turn to processed cereals, sweet muffins, pancakes or carb-loaded dairy products (yes, even yogurt can be extremely high in carbohydrate, check the label for added sugar!). These foods are low in nutrients, spike the blood sugar, and don’t fill you up. A smart breakfast provides the body with a good amount of protein, fat, and fiber-rich sources of carbohydrate like sweet potatoes, oats, or berries to help balance the blood sugar and keep you full and energized all morning.
  2. Make half of your plate vegetables: You knew you weren’t going to make it through a weight loss article without hearing about vegetables. They are the ultimate health food; rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber…while being low in calories! Really maximizing your vegetable intake can help you feel full and satisfied with very little calorie cost, ultimately what is going to help you lose weight. Try making half of your meals consist of vegetables by adding them to soups and chilis, sandwiches, rice bowls, bean burritos, or just eating alone as a salad or side dish. They are great as a filling snacking too, especially with a favorite hummus or handful of nuts. Checkout the recipe at the end of this article for a delicious way to up your veggie intake!
  3. Drink water: It isn’t glamorous, but it’s effective. Drinking enough water helps you feel full, aids in proper digestion and elimination, improves the health and appearance of your skin, supports better blood circulation, muscle health, and even your body’s own detoxifying systems. Drinking water is truly underrated. Studies have shown that people who follow a low-calorie diet lose more weight if they increase their water intake. Simply drinking a glass 20 minutes before every meal will help you eat less but still feel satisfied.
  4. Make meals at home: This tip is great for weight loss, but will also save you a lot of money! When you eat out, you lose control of how much fat, salt, sugar, and extra calories are put into your food. Making meals from scratch gives you complete control. You can make healthy substitutions, choose healthier cooking methods (for instance baking a potato instead of frying it) and avoid unwanted ingredients like oxidized fats, MSG, or high fructose corn syrup which sabotage weight loss efforts. Additionally, when you can visualize how much oil, sauce, or sweetener gets put into the dish, you exercise better portion control.
  5. Move! Its no surprise that regular exercise can help shed that extra weight, but even small steps to be more active in day-to-day activities can mean the difference between losing five pounds this year, or ten. Choosing the stairs, walking on your lunch break, standing for phone calls. If sitting is the new smoking, try to do it as little as possible! Take up hobbies that get you outside, or find a new group exercise class that you enjoy! The bottom line is the more you move, the more you lose.

Here is a filling, vegetable packed recipe to make at home, perfect for helping you reach your weight goals! This marinara sauce is full of hidden vegetables, and when put on top of zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash, it is the perfect veggie packed meal! It is sweetened with carrots and a balsamic reduction so it is free of added sugars, unlike the bottled variety which can contain up to 16 grams of sugar per cup!


Sweet and Simple Sugar-Free Marinara

Makes 8 cups

Total Time: 1 hr 15 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 celery rib, chopped fine
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 16 oz cans stewed tomatoes (you can substitute crushed tomatoes and add your own seasonings if desired)

Instructions:

  1. In a stock pot over medium, heat the olive oil.
  2. Sautee your vegetables and garlic clove until tender.
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes (to reduce the vinegar).
  4. Add the tomatoes and allow to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Once flavors have mixed, use and emersion blender (or spoon into a regular blender if you don’t have one) and puree until desired texture.