Athletic-Minded Traveler’s Blog delves into all things active and healthy. Here you can find recipes, training advice, “best of” lists, travel tips, yoga insight and more.

You are here

Easy to Follow Get Healthy FOOD Strategies for Everyday Life

Getting healthy is a simple goal.   Getting started is not so simple.

However, folks like Jim Karas, a lifestyle expert, well-known author and seasoned business professional can help make it happen.  Good Morning America's Fitness Contributor understands people and how to motivate them.

Jim recently met with a group of Chicago women looking for easy to follow strategies to get (or stay) healthy.  We think our athletic-minded traveler friends will appreciate the simplicity of Jim's advice.  We've added a few of our own athletic-minded tips in parentheses after Jim's guidance.

1.  Breakfast is a MUST.

Jim Karas's favorite options:

  • 2 Eggs. Don't be afraid of them. They are a super food. If you are concerned, then do three whites and one whole egg. You can also scramble them with veggies such as peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc. and even add some low fat cheese. (We posted one of our favorite egg white recipes awhile back, a protein rich fritatta.  Click here for it and scroll to bottom.  The post is about the benefits of spices.)

Protein rich egg white fritatta

  • Oatmeal. The "real" steel cut is the best, but in a pinch, instant works too. (For added antioxidant "oomph", melt in a packet of unsweetened Acai or frozen blueberries.)
  • 2% yogurt or cottage cheese. (Mix in frozen berries and your favorite high-fiber cereal)
  • Ezekiel Bread  You can purchase at Whole Foods, and it should be in all your homes. Toast it and top it with peanut or almond butter. (We recommend Almond Butter over Peanut Butter. Read our post.)
  • Protein shake. Take a scoop of whey protein and add fresh or frozen fruit and 1/2 cup of 2% milk. It tastes great and the kids will also like it.  (Forget McDonald's smoothies and definitely make your own. Here is our recipe.)

NOTE: If you workout first thing in the morning, you MUST eat a piece of fruit or toast before the workout and then your actual breakfast after.  (Don't exercise on an empty stomach. Your body reacts by NOT burning as many calories.)

2.  Spice 

Spices are AMAZING for weight loss as they boost your metabolism AND there is new research that they actually make you feel full. Load up on fresh salsa from Whole Foods and
use Tabasco, hot chili peppers, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, etc., on as much of your food as you like.  (We just posted about using spice mixes on roasted veggies.  Click here for our hints.)

3.  Salads 

  • An entree salad should be your lunch OR dinner EVERY day. Don't skimp on the vegetables. They fill you up, slow the aging process, reduce wrinkles and more.
  • Add 4-6 ounces of lean protein such as grilled chicken, water packed tuna, fish, etc. (Trader Joe's sells mahi mahi burgers in the frozen section and they are delicious, low-calorie, high protein and kid friendly.)
  • Go VERY light on the dressing and use olive oil very sparingly, as in one teaspoon NOT one tablespoon.  Did you know that one tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories and is 100% fat? (The Athletic-Minded Traveler staff highly recommends several of Trader Joe's dressings, the Parmesan Ranch (does NOT taste like ranch) and the Cilantro. We also like Galeo's Miso Dijonnaise which is sold at Whole Foods)  Galeo's Miso Dinonnaise

4.  Drinks

  • Say NO to sports drinks, soda and juice. Trust me, no one should be drinking it.
  • Say YES to tea, hot, cold, green, black, whatever. (Yogi Teas are excellent and you can save a bundle by purchasing online.)

5Be smart about how and where you eat

Do NOT eat in front of the television.  Research proves that you AND your family will eat more. Ditto with platters on the table. Don't leave them there. Plate your food and the food for the kids and have everyone get up for seconds.  (Click here to read our healthy parenting strategies for food.)

6.  Snacks

Jim's favorites

  • Think Thin Protein Bars.  Of all the bars, they are one of the best. I love the Brownie Crunch and eat them all the time in the office. (Pick one up at Whole Foods and see if you like it.  The brownie crunch has 230 calories, no "sugar" and 20 grams of protein.  We have tried other flavors and recommend them.  Buy them online to save significantly on price.)  Think Thin Bar
  • 10-12 Almonds (And make sure you count them.  10 to 12 will yield about 80 calories and 3 grams of protein)
  • Yogurt, cottage cheese or string cheese Kids love that as well.
  • Apple and peanut or almond butter

7.  Eating out tips

Eating out does not have to be a calorie explosion.  Here are some easy to follow rules:

There are 5 parts to a dinner:

  • Bread - no more than one thin slice and that does not include Foccacia bread, similar to what they serve at Coco Pazzo (an eatery recommended by Athletic-Minded Traveler).
  • Appetizer - pay attention to portion size.  It shouldn't be the size of a meal and should, 9 out of 10 times, be a salad.  (We notice that healthy eaters often pair an appetizer with a salad for the meal. Add some bulk by also ordering a side of "naked" steamed veggies.  You can always season them with the dressing that you ordered on the side.)
  • Main Course - lean meats, good fat, veggies and a "slow" carb such as 1/2 a sweet potato or 1/2 cup of brown rice.
  • Dessert - careful...sorbets are best but if you go for something rich, you should limit yourself to taking two small bites. 
  • Wine/Alcohol - no more than 2 glasses and always accompanied by 4 glasses of water. Remember, always be a two fisted drinker.

Jim Karas's favorite haunts when eating out in Chicago include:

  • RL  They make "Jim Karas Chicken" which is exactly what Liz served yesterday -- pounded chicken with steamed veggies. They will do whatever you want. Also love the Salad Nicoise with dressing on the side and the Dover Sole without the butter sauce.
  • Fred's. Great entrée salads. Just always order the dressing on the side. Their Market Salad is great and is a TON of veggies that you wouldn't normally eat, which is very beneficial.
  • Gibson's or Rosebud Steakhouse. Can't beat the grilled fish and steamed veggies.
  • Big Bowl  Love this place. I order the "make your own" stir-fry with the wok tossed chicken, and brown rice.  Request that the chef use only chicken broth and they will happily oblige.  However, beware with some of the dishes as they are high in sodium. The chicken satay is also very good, but go easy on the peanut sauce.
  • Italian restaurants in general  CAREFUL as you are getting oiled to death. Be very clear when ordering that you want it done with very little oil.  (We have found that combining a salad with one or two appetizers is an easy way to customize a sensible meal at Italian restaurants.)
  • Mexican  Favor the fajitas and forget the chips and guacamole as both are hugely caloric. A little avocado means one small slice. One chip with guacamole could easily be 100 calories. That is no typo, a full 100 calories.
  • Sushi can be diet food. LOVE it. Just don't have anything fried or considered "spicy" as the spicy means mayonnaise.  (A California roll has about 300 calories while a spicy tuna roll is closer to 500.)

So there you have it, REAL strategies for eating well.  And as with anything, start with smaller goals and give yourself time to adapt to the changes.  Be kind to yourself.  If there is one thing that we know for sure at Athletic-Minded Traveler, it is that healthy food can be DELICIOUS food.  There is NO reason anyone has to sacrifice flavor and food enjoyment to get healthy.

Editor's Note: Scale Photo (at top) courtesy of DeathbyBokeh

Wordpress category: 



Add new comment