I have been teaching nutrition classes in the community for over two years now and I have seen it all. What I have come to realize is that generally people want to be healthier. The problem is that as Americans we want the easy way out. We want to be able to have a quick fix to every problem in our life and losing weight is no different. We sign up for meals to be shipped to our house or start the latest fad diet all in the hopes that we will look like the success stories in the commercials and on the box. It may work for a day, a week, a month, or even a year, but the second that you stop dieting you gain every ounce back plus a couple of extra. Your health and nutrition are not simple fixes! You need to change the way that you view food and more important the food choices that you make, but don’t let that scare you! It truly is easy!
I have created a list of five easy changes that will work. However, you have to be consistently aware of the food you eat. This is not a one week fix, this is a new lifestyle that is still delicious, but healthier.
1. Make it whole.
At least half, if not all, of your grains should be whole grains. Whole grains are more nutritious, less processed, and they fill you up more than normal grains. This means that you will be able to eat less calories before you are full and you will save money at the same time. Just make sure that you read the nutrition ingredients label and that the first word contains the word “whole wheat” or “100% whole.”
Examples: whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, brown rice, quinoa
2. Add veggies.
Whatever dish you are making can have vegetables added to it. This will provide additional vitamins and to fill up your plate, so it looks like you are eating the same amount, but you are actually consuming less calories. If you are out to eat, change your side dish. Instead of french fries, get broccoli or carrots. Note that potatoes, corn, and french fries do NOT count as vegetables!
Examples: Add broccoli to your mac & cheese, add bell peppers to your tacos, add mushrooms on top of your steak
3. Pick lower fats.
When you eat protein, you are building muscle; however, when you eat fat, you are gaining insulation. Unless you are in the North Pole, nobody needs that much insulation on their body. While some fat is needed, excess fat clogs your arteries and lands on your hips, thighs, butt, and stomach. Try to pick items that are lower in fat, if given an option. Diary normally has lower fat options and meat has lean versions like fish, chicken, and 98% lean.
Examples: Instead of whole milk, get skim or 1% milk, replace ground beef with ground turkey, get nonfat yogurt (add fruit to provide additional flavor)
4. Skip the salt.
1 in every 3 American adults has high blood pressure. Salt is a major contributor to that. Today, most foods contained added salt. When given the option, pick the “no salt added” cans or sauces. When you go to a restaurant, do not add salt to what has already been salted for you by the chef. Also, when you are cooking a meal try to add different spices instead of salt, so that you will still have flavor in your meal, but it will be lower amounts of sodium.
Examples: no salt added can of green beans, using cumin and chili powder instead of salt on tacos
5. Make it yourself.
The meals with the most calories are the ones that we do not see being made. Whether this is at a restaurant or a prepared freezer meal, these meals are often high in sodium, fat, and calories. Whenever you get the option try to make the meal yourself. If you have a time restraint, make planned-overs by making extra one day, so you can enjoy it the next.
Good luck eating healthy!