As a nutritionist my job is to educate people about healthy eating and preparing individualized diet plant that will fit anyone’s lifestyle, will be pleasant enough for the client to be able to stick with it and most important, it will produce effects. Not everyone however needs personalized diet straight form the dietitian’s office. Some of you simply ask me how to eat healthier and what’s the best way to lose weight. So here is few steps that will show you how to make small changes in the diet that will benefit the health and hopefully help get rid of a few pounds here and there.
1. Always Eat Breakfast (even on the go).
I don’t think I need to add that you should always eat breakfast. People who consume breakfast are usually thinner than people who skip breakfast and it is so because of two reasons.
First reason is that people who skip breakfast usually make up for it later during the day and overall tend to consume more calories than people who eat breakfast.
Second reason is that by skipping breakfast your metabolism slows down by shifting into starvation mode, so whatever you’ll eat later during the day will more likely end up being stores as fat. Breakfast within an hour of waking up not only gives you energy but also speeds up your metabolism.
If you never have time to eat breakfast grab some healthy granola bar and eat in your car. It’s still much better than eating nothing.
2. Fruit, Protein and Grains for Breakfast.
It is very important to properly fuel your body in the morning.
- · Carbohydrates from whole grains such as multigrain, wchole grain cereals and breads (or oatmeal) will give you and your brain energy for the next few hours so you can be more efficient at work.
- · Protein will speed up your metabolism (so called Thermic Effect of Protein) because it takes much more energy to digest protein than digest fats or carbs. It will also keep you fuller for longer by slowing down digestion process.
- · Adding some fruit to your breakfast such as small apple, nectarine, orange or even freshly squeezed orange juice will not only add essencial vitamins and minerals but also enzymes that will aid digestion, antioxidants that will strenghthen our immune system and slow down the oxidation (aging) process of our body and if eaten whole, fiber that will prevent constipation.
Really all it takes to improve your health is having a nutritious breakfast each morning composed of grains (cereal, oatmeal, whole wheat bread), protein (milk, yogurt, eggs) and a handful of fruits. Not so bad right?
3. Replace one unheatlhy side with a vegetable side.
It is very easy to improve your diet by simply substituting one unhealthy side dish for a healthy and wholesome one every time you eat out. I’m not saying to give up fries and never ever eat them again but try to add some healthier side dishes to your meals. Some fabulous and widely available healthy side dishes include side salads, rice and beans, yellow rice w/ vegetables, sweet potato, green beans, baked potato (without butter and cheese, some sour cream is ok), steamed vegetables, corn on the cob (without butter), squash, baked beans, sauteed greens, small cup of soup and roasted homestyle fries.
Watch out for:
- Coleslaw and potato salad because they are drowned in fatty myonnaise;
- Mashed potatoes because restaurants make them with with tons of butter and heavy cream;
- Loaded baked potato because of butter, bacon and cheese;
- Mac & cheese since because it can be extremely high in calories (read butter, cream and cheese);
- Broccoli with cheese or any other buttery sauces (Hollandaise, bechamel);
- Fries and other fried foods such as tater tots, hash browns, fried plantains, fried yuca and fried onion rings
- Potatoes au gratin because just like mac & cheese they are loaded with butter, cream and cheese.
4. Avoid soda and sweet juices
If you’re trying to eat healthy I’m sure you already know that soda is bad for you. One 12 oz can of Coke has 10 teaspoons of sugar. You would never put 10 teaspoons of sugar to your tea or coffee so why should you drink sugary soda? If you must drink some try diet soda but be aware that artificial sweeteners are not healthy (they are linked to cancer). In the end you are not only trying to lose some weight but also become a healthier person. Moreover research shows that people who drink diet soda usually are not thinner at all than people who drink regular soda.
The only option is to give up soda and sweet juices all the way and if you are one of those people that drink soda all the time, it will most likely be the hardest step. Pure water is best but if you just can’t force yourself to drink water try some of these ideas:
- · Sparkling flavored water such as La Croix, Perrier, St. Pellegrino. You can also add a little bit of regular juice to plain sparkling water to flavor it yourself and save some calories from the juice.
- · Unsweetened iced-tea. You can sweeten it yourself by adding few drops of liquid Stevia extract, a natural zero calorie sweetener that is about 300 times sweeter than sugar and unlike artificial sweeteners is safe for you. You can find it in any grocery store in the sweeteners section. The cost seems high (about $10 per 2 oz bottle) but it contains about 450 servings so overall it is a preddy good deal.
- · Flavor plain water with a squeeze of lemon juice and optionally few drops of stevia.
- · If you need to drink some juice, try Trop50 juices from Tropicana brand which have half the sugar and calories of the regular juices (50 kcal and 10 g sugar per 8 fl oz).
- · Try to give a shot to low sodium tomato or vegetable jucies. Who knows maybe you’ll like them ( I do )
5. Use Healthy Fats
One of the most important and probably the easiest rules to follow is tu use healthy monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and polyunsaturated fats such as walnut, safflower and sunflower oil in place of saturated and trans fats such as butter, shortening and margarine.
6. Trick your sweet tooth.
If your biggest issue is a sweet tooth you don’t have to completely ditch sweets. Just be smart about them. If you have to eat something sweet after dinner try something small such as lolipop. Unlike candy bar it takes quite a while to suck on lolipop so there’s a chance that you’ll get your dose of sugar and be completely satisfied with just one lolipop. You can also portion your sweets into zip lock bags and eat only one portion. Doesn’t work for everyone but it’s worth trying.
These are few very easy changes that you can try to improve your diet. You definitely won’t feel deprived of your favorite foods yet it is a good way to introduce slightly healthier habits to your menu. These are very general rules but they work and can be easily implemented in anyone’s lifestyle.