Tradition dictates that every 365 days, we make our lists of lifestyle changes as we hang our new year's calendars. What will it be this year? Exercise more, lose weight, stop smoking, eat more veggies? Then March rolls around and Craigslist is flooded with used exercise equipment that people realize they aren't ever going to use, and the idea of giving up our addictive habits is too much for some of us to bear. So, in the (slightly altered) words of the 'Auld Lang Sine' author, Robert Burns....
'Should (res-o-lutions) be forgot, and never brought to mind??'
Not at all!!
Instead of making radical changes to our lifestyles that are hard to achieve, consider simpler goals that are easier to implement. Since we all want a healthier, happier body, a great place for most of us to start is to consider adding more Negative Calorie Foods to our diets. These foods are not only healthy,they use more calories to digest than the calories the foods actually contain! They can be eaten in unlimited quantities and even make you feel full!
Apples are one of the most popular negative calorie foods out there, simply because they are delicious and cheap. A medium apple contains about 80 calories, depending on the variety, and our bodies burn about 100 calories to digest them, and even more as we prepare, eat, and eliminate them. Apples also contain high levels of flavanoids which have been shown to reduce the risks of some cancers.
Pickles are, of course, cucumbers. Cucumbers contain approx. 16 calories per cup, with pickles scoring a few calories higher. Because our bodies burn much more than 16 calories to consume and digest a cucumber, they are a "negative calorie food." My family are personally big fans of pickles and cucumbers, especially the ones my wife cans because they do not contain preservatives, added sugar, (which adds calories) or artificial food coloring chemicals.
Ah, the carrot. One of the sweetest vegetables in the garden. A carrot charts in at 32 calories which, you guessed it, is less than we need to consume it. Carrots are 90% water, which is why eating them makes you feel full with less calories consumed. The water in some fruits and veggies take up space in your stomach, causing you to feel full, and stop eating. Water, is the most effective appetite control substance in the world.
Not to mention, you've probably heard that carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, right?
Dark leafy greens, such as lettuce and spinach contain only 7 calories per cup, with lighter colored lettuces (iceberg) scoring much lower, but also lacking nutrients. Use caution with salad dressings, however, as they can add as much as 200 calories per tablespoon, and often contain other dangerous additives such as MSG and soybean oil.
Blueberries are an important part of a healthy diet. The calorie count in blueberries aren't exceptionally low, at 81 calories per cup of unthawed berries, but low enough to make it a negative calorie food. The high levels of antioxidant activity in fresh blueberries make them well worth every calorie. In the Vancouver area, blueberries are a large u-pick crop. If you do pick your own, (it's a great activity to do with children, as most farms will let you eat while you pick) find an organic farm, or one that does not spray their berries. Blueberries are a thin skinned fruit and absorb more pesticides and sprays than thicker skinned fruits.
Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well balanced vegetables in existence. Asparagus contains less than 4 calories per spear, and is high in essential nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin B6, thiamin, and potassium. Asparagus is easy to prepare, and tasty with simple seasonings. Consider a light sprinkling of sea salt and broiling until tender for an excellent snack or side dish.
Celery is 95% water, so it fills you up without adding calories, and contains only 19 calories per cup. Some say you burn more calories just chewing this crunchy snack than it contains! Even though celery contains no contributing calories, it does contain powerful medicine. Celery has been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, and also contains the flavanoid, apeginin, which researchers from Brigham and Womens and Harvard Medical Center have found may greatly reduce a woman's risk of ovarian cancer.
While Grapefruit may not be a really low calorie food, with approx. 50 calories per 3 3/4" diameter half, it contains an antioxidant called naringenin, which triggers the liver to break down fat! When consumed as part of a weight loss strategy, grapefruits are truly an essential part of your diet.