Is eating healthier one of your New Year’s resolutions? Following a fad diet, or being overly restrictive, will not help you or your family achieve health goals. Healthy eating does not mean boring, tasteless foods. In fact, eating healthy is quite tasty and is fortunately becoming more and more convenient!
Try these simple yet sensible steps that will help you adopt a healthier diet, without feeling deprived.
Add color to your plate with nutrient-dense vegetables.
There are many more vegetables to try than just lettuce and tomatoes! Bright-colored and dark green leafy vegetables are especially loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. They are also high in fiber, which makes them very filling. In addition, they are low in calories – good to help trim waistline. When you fill up your stomach with veggies, they will be less likely to feel the urge to binge on other high-fat or processed foods.
Snack on fruits – fresh or dried.
When feel like snacking, grab a fruit instead of chips or cookies. Like vegetables, fruits are high in antioxidants and fiber and low in calories. To make it fun, use yogurt or hummus as a dip. This way you’ll get some calcium as well as protein – which helps feel full longer. And don’t forget about dried fruits. Mixing them with whole-wheat breakfast cereal and nuts makes a nutritious school snack.
Choose whole grains.
Whole grains got their well-deserved attention since 2005 when the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans publicly recommend eating at least 3 servings of whole grains every day. Not only are they high in fiber, whole grains also contain an array of antioxidants not found in fruits and vegetables. The easiest way to increase whole grain intake is to replace some of your refined-grain products. For instance, use whole-grain bread instead of white bread when making lunch sandwiches. Substitute half the white flour with whole wheat flour in your regular recipes for cookies, muffins, and pancakes. Toss brown rice, wild rice, or barley in your vegetable soup. Or snack on popcorn instead of chips on family movie nights. (Yes, popcorn is a whole grain!) Don’t forget, you don’t need to completely wipe out all refined grains. You can always try serving half whole wheat/half refined as a starting point. In United States, check out Oldways for resources on the benefits of a plant-based diet with lots of legumes and whole grains. In Canada, check out the new non-profit organization, Healthy Grains Institute, for their consumer resources on the health benefits of whole grains.
Say No to Highly Processed Foods and Yes to Fresh!
Many nutrition experts agree that highly processed foods are the true culprit for obesity, not carb, gluten, or meat! Frozen fish sticks have almost 12 times more fat than natural fish fillet; chicken nuggets have 4 times more fat than chicken tenders! You can easily chow down a bag of chips or a chocolate candy bar with 300 calories; 300 calories is what’s in a lunch size 6-inch sub sandwich! Instead of packing sodium-loaded processed ham sandwiches, try using leftover high-quality protein from the night before, or eating a fresh salad full of fresh vegetables and grilled chicken. These protein alternatives are usually nitrate-free and more heart health friendly. Stay clear from processed foods and start eating fresh, wholesome, natural foods instead.