skinny minny (n): a person who is really thin but eats whatever they want. It’s okay to hate on them, but even better to get the skinny on their tricks…
When I get caught double-fisting hot dogs or eating entire pizza pies by my lonesome, people inevitably ask how I eat so much yet stay so skinny. Sure, I do have a fast metabolism (for a few more years at least….thank you dad and God!), but I also understand the fundamentals of nutrition and practice a few “skinny girl” tricks to keep my figure–and no, this does not include the finger down the throat technique! I have decided to include this section on my blog because I am shocked as to how little most girls know about safe dieting and healthy eating. Living in Miami, there is a constant focus on weight and burdensome pressure on girls to be skinny. Unfortunately, a lot of girls turn to unsafe dieting habits (starving themselves one week and binging another) because they don’t know how to properly manage their weight on a daily basis. Ironically, most of these extreme-dieting techniques have the adverse effect that girls desire, slowing down a healthy metabolism and causing greater long-term weight gain.
Disclaimer: I am by no means a professional nutritionist!! I am merely a girl who understands—or thinks she understands—how to eat healthy. I acquired my nutritional knowledge from two sources: (1) my mom who never kept sugary cereals or snacks in the house while I was growing up, and (2) a variety of different nutrition-ralted reading materials (many of which are cited below).
That’s all for my disclaimer though, so lets begin!
Tip No.1: Everything in Moderation
You shouldn’t cut out certain food groups or your favorite indulgences from your diet all together, just learn to enjoy them in moderation. This is by far the most important rule in maintaining a healthy diet, and it is also the one that I struggle the most with because I tend to loose all self-control when surrounded by exorbitant amounts of food. Therefore, my solution is to control the amount of food that I am around (when I can, of course!)…
- Keep a limited selection of pre-packaged or prepared food in the house. If you have to actually take the time to cook food, you will really consider just how hungry you are. Therefore, you are less likely to eat out of boredom and when you aren’t really hungry.
- Make yourself work for food because it slows down the eating process and makes you feel fuller faster. Buy nuts that are in the shell or fruits like pomegranate that require you to pick out the seeds.
- Don’t buy snacks in large quantities. If you love cookies and know that they are your weakness, buy a single indulgent cookie at the bakery when you are craving it, rather than buying a whole package of Oreos for the pantry.
- My philosophy on 100 calorie snack packs: they are great in theory, but I would stay away from them because in reality most people end up eating 2 or 3 packets at once because lets face it, one just isn’t really satisfying!!
- Pre-portion your snacks into reasonable serving sizes. If you do buy a bag of potato chips for the pantry, check out the recommended serving on the back of the bag and put this number of chips into individual zip lock baggies so you don’t find yourself tilting the bag of Lays crumbs into your mouth after successfully killing the bag in one sitting (clearly, I’ve been guilty of this before)
Tip No.2: Eat Breakfast…and One That is High In Protein
Breakfast food is my favorite, so I don’t understand why people would ever want to skip this meal, but unfortunately many do. Breakfast is super important because it literally “breaks the fast” of not eating while you sleep (get the play on words?!). It restores your blood glucose levels, which is essential for your brain and physical energy throughout the day. You may not wake up hungry, but try to eat something because it will prevent you from binge eating at lunch in the afternoon and it will also reduce fatigue. However, your breakfast should not consist of sugary carbs like a Pop Tart or bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. These foods will not sustain you throughout the day and will cause a rapid spike in your sugar level, surely leading to an afternoon crash. Your breakfast needs to be high in protein because protein encourages fat burning while at the same time keeping you feeling full.
Tip No.3: They Call it a “Skinny Bitch” for a Reason
For an ideal figure, we shouldn’t drink. But that’s in a perfect world. For a college student like myself, it’s just downright unrealistic. I mean aren’t these are the only years where alcoholism is sort of socially acceptable?! But when you know you’re drinking a lot, drink smart! Girls don’t put on a freshman 15 because of the unlimited dining hall food, which is often so gross it’s a reason to starve oneself. They put on the freshman 15 because they haven’t yet learned how to drink smart. They hammer down sugary beverages like pain killers, mojitos, margaritas, and twisted teas, which leads to both a nasty hangover and a nice little gut just in time for the first spring break. Spare yourself both of these problems and stick to ordering the “Skinny Bitch,” which is vodka on the rocks with splash of club soda and a twist of lemon or lime. It’s only 80 calories!!! To get an idea of how amazing this is, here is a calorie comparison for some standard drinks:
- 8 oz Margarita = 453 cal
- 8 oz Bahama Mama = 300 cal
- 4 oz Cosmo = 200 cal
- 8 oz Gin and Tonic = 190 cal
- 12 oz Bud Light = 110
- 12 oz Blue Moon = 170
If you can handle the skinny bitch minus the soda, that’s even better because you won’t have carbonation bloating you the next day! You’ll also get your money’s worth in alcohol, just remember you’re a lot drinking harder than the people around you!
For other Low-Calorie Cocktail Recipes, check out the list of drinks under 200 calories compiled by by Fitness Magazine.
Tip No.4: Save Your Calories for Food, Don’t Drink Them
One of the easiest ways to cut back on your calorie intake is to stop drinking high-cal sugary beverages. So put down that soda….yes, even if it’s a diet soda!! Everyone knows that soda is bad for you, but due to rather recent and successful marketing efforts on behalf of carbonated beverage corporations, some people now believe that diet soda is a good alternative. It is an alternative, but it is not any better for you in the long run. In fact, several studies suggest that the artificial sweeteners in diet soda may cause even greater weight gain because it does not satiate our body’s sugar needs. You’re body wants sugar, you give it an artificial sweetener, it knows that it has been tricked, and therefore it never delivers the sugar punch we crave. Researchers at the University of Texas have even found that diet soda drinkers were at greater risk of obesity than regular soda drinkers.
Additionally, studies also show that if you cut out just 250 calories from your diet per day, you can loose a pound in 1 week. A can of Coke has 140 calories and a can of Pepsi has 170. Therefore, by substituting 1 or 2 sugary beverages like these with something calorie free, you can loose a pound in one week without sacrificing any food!
Women’s Health Magazine has recently compiled a list of the 20 worst beverages in America, giving the calorie equivalents in food. Check out the list to really deter yourself from opening up that Coke! Click here!
Bottom line, soda is not good for you so keep away from it all together. Some great lo-cal drink alternatives that I like include:
- Honest Tea – lightly sweetened iced tea that is usually less than 70 calories per bottle.
- Fruit infused water – plain water can be boring so fill up a pitcher and throw some fruit in it for a light natural infusion of flavor. I like strawberries, orange slices, lemon slices, and lime slices.
- Green Tea – tea has so many benefits that I will discuss in another section. Try to drink a few cups (hot or iced) a day and sweeten with a little honey or leave regular.
- Sparkling Water – I don’t drink soda, but I do occasionally crave carbonation. I get my fizz fix with sparkling water and save myself the sugar and calories. I also make my own spritzers by mixing juice and sparkling water.
Tip No.5: Don’t Skip Meals and Snack Often
At some point in our lives, we’ve all had an event that we felt pressured to loose some last minute weight for. Maybe it’s the week before you need to get in a bikini for Spring Break, or a little black dress you need to wear to a formal. Regardless, we tend to play the “starvation game” in an effort to shed pounds fast. You know, wake up in the morning and tell yourself that you’re not going to eat anything but an apple and slice of toast for the entire day. Well it never works and then you find yourself binge eating all night to compensate for the skipped meals earlier in the day. Eating just one large meal leads to negative metabolic changes, as research shows that meal skippers have an elevated fasting glucose level and a delayed insulin response, which could lead to diabetes down the road. Put in plain terms, when you start depriving your body of food it literally goes into “starvation mode,” slowing your metabolic rate to conserve energy because it doesn’t know when you’re going to feed it next. A slower metabolism translates into fewer calories burned and therefore increased weight gain when you do eat. So to maintain a speedy metabolism you need to eat several frequent small meals throughout the day. I am like a baby; I eat almost every 2 hours on the dot from the moment that my eyes open in the morning. I love snacking, but not the kind that involves a plate of Oreos and glass of milk. You need to get the most out of your snack and make sure that they provide protein and nutrients. Some of my favorite snacks include:
1. Mixed Nuts
2. Dried Fruits
3. Rice Cakes
**I love the Quaker Cheddar Cheese Rice Cakes, which have only 45 calories per cake and consist of whole grains. Two of these are super satisfying and under 100 calories. My friend Sophie also showed me the trick of putting peanut butter on Quaker’s Chocolate Flavored Rice Cakes for breakfast…delicious.
4. Veggies and Dip
Tip No.6: Drink Lots and Lots of Tea
Most of us know that we need to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, but I say why not make it 8 glasses of tea? Tea gives you the hydration of water with the added benefits of anti-oxidants, and it even tastes better! Just make sure that you drink your tea unsweetened or with minimal amounts of honey. Of course, if you are loading up your tea with sugar, it is no longer as good for you! This can seem challenging at first and your taste buds may need to adjust, but there are certain flavors of tea that I find are easier to drink unsweetened and I will list them at the end. Personally, I try to drink between 6-8 cups of unsweetened tea a day, which is excessive, I know, but there are just so many good things that tea does for your body. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- Protects you from signs of aging and the effects of pollution. Studies show that the cells of avid tea drinkers appear about 5 years younger than non-tea drinkers, resulting in a younger physical appearance and better health.
- May help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke because tea helps unclog cholesterol from your arteries. A 5.6-year study from the Netherlands found a 70 percent lower risk of fatal heart attack in people who drank at least two to three cups of black tea daily compared to non-tea drinkers.
- Strengthens your bones. One study that compared tea drinkers with non-drinkers, found that people who drank tea for 10 or more years had the strongest bones, even after adjusting for age, body weight, exercise, smoking and other risk factors.
- Helps keep your teeth healthier. Tea contains fluoride and tannins that help keep plaque at bay.
- Tea helps bolster your immune defenses
- The anti-oxidants (polyphenols) help protect against cancer
- It’s calorie free. Studies show that if you cut out just 250 calories per day, you can loose a pound in 1 week. A can of Coke has 140 calories and a can of Pepsi has 170. Therefore, by substituting 1 or 2 sugary beverages like these with calorie free tea, you can loose a pound in just one week without sacrificing any food.
- Tea increases your metabolism. Green tea has been shown to actually increase metabolic rate so that you can burn 70 to 80 additional calories by drinking just five cups of green tea per day. That means over 1 year’s time you could lose eight pounds just by drinking green tea!
So now you know my biggest metabolic secret…TEA! It’s really too good for you not to drink. Like I said before, the whole unsweetened beverage thing may take some time for your taste buds to get used to, but if someone told you that they had something that could help defend your body from cancer, pollution, aging, heart disease, stroke, and the common cold while at the same time increasing your metabolism and strengthening your bones and teeth, wouldn’t you want some?! It a miracle in a mug….or in a cup if you want to go the iced route. Some of my favorite teas are:
- Stash Pomegranate Raspberry Green Tea
- Stash Moroccan Mint Green Tea
- Stash Double Chai Spice Tea
- Lipton Blueberry Pomegranate White Tea
- Tetely British Black Tea
Tip No.7: Every Salad Isn’t Healthy
One of the biggest dieting mistakes that I see girls make, is the assumption that salad is always the healthiest, or shall I say leanest, choice. No, No, No!! Repeat after me, “all salads are not created equal, and all salads are not low in calories!” Sure, lettuce is healthy, but when is the last time you saw someone eat just a bowl of plain lettuce? Don’t worry…I’ll wait.
Humans are not rabbits—we enjoy toppings and salad dressings on our greens. However, we need to be mindful as to what we put on our salads or they can become more fattening and caloric than a Big Mac! You think I’m kidding? Here are the nutrition facts of some popular salads at chain restaurants, followed by the surprisingly healthier alternative:
- Yard House BBQ Chicken Salad = 1,665 cal
- Instead….Get the Ahi Caesar Salad with the dressing on the side = 260 cal
- Nordstrom’s Bistro Blue Cheese and Pear Salad = 725 cal
- Instead…Get the Cilantro Lime and Shrimp Salad = 490 cal
- Chipotle Salad (w/ tomato salsa, corn, cheese, guacamole, carnitas, black beans, fajita veggies, and chipotle lime vinaigrette) = 945 cal [520 from fat]
- Instead… get 3 hard tacos with carnitas, tomato salsa, cheese, fajita veggies, and black beans = 630 cal [225 from fat]
- Wendy’s BLT Cobb Salad = 670 cal
- Instead…get a ¼ pounder with cheese (with mayo, ketchup, and pickle) = 530 cal **Just save Wendy’s for late night drive-thru, don’t go to and try to be healthy ordering a salad!
The best tips to keeping a salad healthy are:
- Stick to either mixed greens, arugala, or spinach for lettuce because they are the highest in nutrients (the darker the green the better for you) and they retain less water than iceberg and green leaf, which make you bloat
- Stay away from creamy dressingsand go for vinaigrette’s only
- I recommend my homemade Shallot-Thyme Vinaigrette recipe
- Another super lo-cal option is mixing soy sauce and lemon juice with little minced garlic. It tastes delicious and is calorie free, just watch it on the sodium!
- Opt for cheeses made from goats milk instead of cows milk because they are lower in fat and calories (ie…goats cheese, feta)
- Keep away from tomatoes, which make you retain water and bloat
- Stay away from croutons and sesame sticks, which are high in fat and carbs and negligible in health benefits
- Although nuts and seeds are healthy, do a light sprinkling because they are still high in calories
- When in doubt, keep it raw…raw veggies pack way more nutrients and anti-oxidants than ones that are cooked out
Tip No. 8: Spice it up & pour on the HOT sauce!
Like Tony Soprano would say, I believe that every good meal should be complimented by the appropriate accruciaments. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the show (and/or the term), accruciaments are sauces, dressings, dips, and spreads that take food to a new level of deliciousness–therefore, making them crucial to every meal! But you’ve got be careful because an innocent spoonful of this and dollop of that could be adding hundreds of hidden calories to your diet. So put down that bottle of blue cheese dressing (152 cal. in 2 tbsp), quit slathering your chicken in bbq sauce (60 cal. in 2 tbsp), and for the love of God, hold the mayo (180 cal. in 2 Tbsp)!!! Instead, surround yourself with condiments that are low in calories and help boost your metabolism. Allow me to introduce my friends, Cholula, Tapatio, Tabasco, and Sriracha:
Hot sauce contains capsaicin, which helps to stimulate stomach secretions to speed up digestion. It also works as an appetite suppressant, so I recommend eating it on your eggs with breakfast to help curb your appetite throughout the morning and early afternoon. And of course, most hot sauces have zero calories so they aren’t increasing your overall calorie intake.
Worried about ulcers? Don’t be. Recent studies show that spicy foods are not the cause of ulcer development. In fact, they now believe that capsaicin might even help prevent ulcers because it increases the stomach secretions, building up a protective mucous lining. Don’t believe me? Check out all the ulcer facts and myths from EveryDay Health.
Tip No.9: Find a workout that you love!
Eating right is great, but to maintain a toned figure, you need to workout. And no, shape-ups and shake-weights are not considered working out!! On the other hand, you also don’t need to be running 5 miles a day to stay fit. Find a workout that is fun that also fits into your schedule. I took up belly-dancing classes with my roommate Ariana this year, and we looked forward to going every week but also worked up quite a sweat while there. Pole dancing is another great way to stay in shape too. Lots of upper-body, and unlike being on a treadmill, you feel sexy while you do it! I try to get into 3-4 pole dance classes a week at Pole Fitness Miami, and trust me, they will tighten your muscles in no time!
If you need some inspiration, my friend, Sophie, has created a blog that is full of great workout tips—even tips for working out in between the sheets—and she is certainly credible. She works out religiously and really and really understands the fundamentals of fitness and health. Her blog is at http://secretsbysophie.blogspot.com/.