Weight Loss: ZERO ZONE
Everyone trying to lose weight should have a “Zero Zone” in their refrigerator.
The Zero Zone is a drawer or region in your fridge dedicated to foods and snacks that are very close to zero calories.
You can eat freely of these zero foods whenever you want to snack. Hooray!!!
For instance in my zero zone I like to keep a big jar of pickles, celery, and lime flavored sparkling water. I know I can eat and drink as much of these foods as I want. The Zero Zone eliminates the guess work out of healthy snacking.
Other veggies that are great for the “Zero Zone” are broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers, snow peas, green beans, pickled asparagus spears, baby carrots, blueberries, raspberries, and really any fruit or vegetable in my opinion except bananas and really starchy root vegetables like potatoes or yams. However you are still better off having a frozen banana with a little organic chocolate sauce, or a baked yam topped with honey, pumpkin pie spice, shredded coconut and a tiny scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt (so good) than eating an entire box of cookies or bag of chips.
Unless you are on a very calorie restricted diet the relatively negligible calories from a snack of whole fruit will serve your body better than just about anything else while curing your dieting hunger. Especially if you are after something sweet.
Friends and neighbors of the “Zero Zone” can be things like hummus, spicy bean dip, cottage cheese, non-fat plain yogurt, hard boiled eggs, and raw almond butter or tahini (Two tablespoons of a nut butter is typically about 190 calories). Now these foods, especially the nut butters, do have calories in them, but when you combine their protein with the fiber from the veggies will serve well to stabilize your blood sugar and keep you feeling like you are going to go on some major bad hungry binge. The “Zero Zone” is also great for late night eating as we don’t want to eat a big meal and then go right to bed.
Sometimes late at night really we are just bored and need something to do. Crunching on low calorie vegetables is the perfect activity. I keep sparkling water on hand as a treat because it seems more elegant than drinking plain water. When I am feeling like I need something indulgent I will get out my fancy stemware and make up a big glass of sparkling water with ice and a garnish of lemon or lime wedge and then plop a few blueberries or raspberries in for fun.
Drink plenty of water in between meals so you don’t confuse thirst with hunger (please not right before you eat, as that dilutes your stomach acid and results in poor digestion).
If you are eating out of stress, I would invite you to invest in a variety of calming herbal teas such as chamomile, passionflower, schisandra, kava kava (pretty strong sedative), valerian (very strong sedative) or any of the teas made for bedtime. A good “night night” tea also helps take the edge off of a stressful work day. Instead of coming home stressed and heading to the fridge, try making the new habit to unwind with a big cup of relaxing herbal tea. Tell yourself that you can binge eat if you still want to after you have drank your tea. Chances are though, you won’t need to. These teas can easily be made iced (just add one tea bag per eight ounces of water, allow to cool and store in a pitcher in the fridge) and are a great asset to the Zero Zone.
If you are serious about putting an end to “stress eating”, invest in the most glamorous tea mug that you can find. Spend an entire day shopping for it if you have to. It needs to be something that instantly makes you happy to look at and hold in your hands. It has to be special. Use this mug to make your tea drinking feel glamorous, or just use your best china for tea time. A nice cup of tea can be extremely relaxing.
Learn to enjoy and appreciate the flavor of the tea without having to add honey or stevia. And heaven forbid…do NOT use aspartame as it is the EVIL enemy of the Kitchen Table. As a recovering sugar addict, I have learned to enjoy all my herbal teas plain, and wouldn’t have it any other way now. I sincerely believe that if I can do it, you can too.
The key to success is to be as prepared as a boy scout. Stock up once a week on “free foods” and their friends so that you always have them on hand. Wash and cut up the veggies and have them all ready for those hungry emergencies. If time is an issue, or if you are kind of lazy like me, then just buy a pre-made veggie tray.
The goal to not binging is to never feel like you are starving to death. Snacking on “Zero Zone” foods in between meals will keep your blood sugar stable so that you will have the best possible attitude and success with your weight loss goals!
Do you already have a “Zero Zone”? What are your favorite “free food” snacks?
~Dr. Nicole Sundene