From: Nikki Cascone, Top Chef veteran and owner of Octavia’s Porch in New York City
Early this year, Cascone welcomed her first baby -- and a whole new diet challenge. “All those good eating habits I’d practiced during pregnancy quickly went out the window. I was just so busy,” she recalls. So, how does she currently keep her figure in check? Aside from steering clear of refined sugars, Cascone now prepares good-for-you foods ahead of time, so she can nosh healthfully on the go. Among her slimming staples: I keep washed and sliced veggies that can quickly be transformed into salads along with protein-rich picks like hard boiled eggs, shrimp and smoked salmon and healthy, fiber-rich carbs like lentils, chickpeas, and cooked whole wheat pasta. These items keep me energized and satisfied so I don’t feel the need to nosh on unhealthy foods," she says. The result: Having these healthy alternatives at her fingertips helped Cascone successfully shed her 42 pounds of post-baby weight in just a few months.
Another calorie-cutting rule: “I commit to having two full pieces of fruit every day. They curb my appetite and keep my sweet tooth in check,” Cascone says. "When I’m hungry and I’m craving a scoop of ice cream but know I haven't had my apple yet, I opt for the apple first, then ultimately end up reserving the ice cream for another day.” Indeed, researchers have found that people who munch on an apple before meals consume fewer calories, total, than those who choose something else of equal caloric value.