Eat your vegetables. Remember Mom saying that when we were younger?
In today’s society of convenience, where fast food restaurants are prevalent, and convenience stores carry mass amounts of sweets and salty snack guaranteed to raise your blood sugar and only temporarily satisfy, it can be very difficult to eat right consistently.
However, here are some tips to change your eating habits and get you back on track to eating right.
Healthy Eating for Good Health
Substitute chips for fresh veggies.
A ½ cup serving of chips contains an average of 130 calories, approximately 12-14 grams of fat, over 200 mg of sodium, and approximately 20-25 g of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates break down into sugar in your body, thus increasing the fat levels in your body as well.
In substituting carrots, bell peppers, fresh broccoli, or even cherry tomatoes, you reduce your caloric intake by about 75-80%, your sodium intake by 100%, your fat intake by 100%, and your carbohydrate intake by about 75%. Another difference is that the carbohydrates in veggies are considered “good” carbohydrates, because they are natural, not made with white or refined flour ingredients.
Substitute fried foods such as fried chicken, French fries, or even fried fish for the grilled or baked versions of the same items. Fried foods are often fried in lard or heavy shortening, which increases the cholesterol in the body by upwards of 125% of the daily allotment of cholesterol. Since cholesterol is broken into both “good” (LDL) and “bad” (HDL) cholesterol, it’s important to know your cholesterol level. Anything below 200 is considered excellent. Anything above is considered dangerous, and could put you at risk for heart disease or stroke. Fried foods will increase the levels of both cholesterol and fat in your blood stream, thus causing you to gain weight and stress your heart significantly.
Choose lean meats such as poultry or fish. Red meat is high in fat and cholesterol, and while it is also high in protein, it takes longer to digest in your system, which means the fat and cholesterol found in red meats stays in your body longer than that of the leaner meats. Chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, halibut, or other fresh fish are much leaner, lower in fat and cholesterol, and are also high in protein, essential to your body’s need for proper fuel to continue to function effectively. Fish is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce bad cholesterol while raising the good cholesterol levels in individuals.
No “artificial” sweets. It is difficult to ignore Dairy Queen and instead reach for the fresh watermelon from the vine or the grocery store. However, natural sugars found in fresh fruit are much better for your body and are easier to break down than processed sugars. A great substitute for your chocolate fix might include a frozen banana dipped in fat free Hershey’s chocolate, and hardened like a chocolate covered ice cream cone. Lower in fat and calories while high in fiber, this is a great treat on a hot summer day.
Avoid other sweets such as donuts, cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, candy bars, and even sweetened cereals as well. The less processed sugar in your system, the better able and prepared your body is to combat disease and process other foods you eat.
Avoid cream sauces and dairy products. When eating out, avoid cream sauces such as alfredo or hollandaise sauce, as they are very high in fat and caloric content. Substitute cream-based sauces for either olive oil based, vinegar based, or tomato based sauces. These are heart healthy, will lighten an otherwise heavy meal. Sour cream and other high-fat content dairy products should also be avoided and substituted with lighter options such as low fat/fat free sour cream or skim milk vs. 2%. Yogurt is very good for your digestive system; however, make sure you eat yogurt sweetened with Splenda vs. sugar. This is a much healthier option than eating regular yogurt. Add fruit to plain yogurt to give it flavor and better texture.
Watch portions. Often we eat low fat/low calorie meals, but we eat enough for three people. It is critical for eating right to watch the amount of food you put on your plate. One way to ensure your portions are smaller is to actually measure or weigh them before serving. Avoid second helpings-either freeze leftovers or prepare them for the next day’s meal. Another way to ensure your portions are smaller is to use smaller plates vs. large plates. The smaller plates will not hold as much food, and will help you create more realistic sizes.
Eat according to your body type, size, and gender. The typical female is allowed 2000 calories a day, with 65 grams of fat and 300 mg of cholesterol. For perspective, a Subway sandwich with turkey, tomatoes, lettuce, and fat free honey mustard has about 260 calories and 6 grams of fat, with about 15-20 mg of cholesterol. A ½ cup serving of Edy’s Grand Light Ice Cream contains 110 calories with 4.5 grams of fat and no cholesterol.
In just these two items alone, you will have consumed 20% of your allotted caloric intake for the day, 22% of your fat allotment for the day, and almost 10% of your cholesterol intake for the day. Order a hamburger at a restaurant, and you have met and/or exceeded your allotted values for that day. Make sure your food is consistent with your level of activity and your protein needs.
Overall, eating right is a matter of breaking bad behaviors and exhibiting self-discipline. Exchanging poor food choices for right food choices will enable you to not only lose a little weight, but overall, you will feel better because your body will be receiving the fuel it needs to continue functioning properly. Eating right foods will also keep you healthier, and less prone to headaches, heartburn, obesity, fatigue, and other health problems associated with obesity such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and fractured bones.
Choosing better foods for your body will position you to be more effective and productive in everyday life.
8 Tips to Get Your Daily Serving of Fruits and Vegetables
Most Americans groan at the thought of trying to get those ever evasive fruits and vegetables into their frenzied lifestyle. After all, if you can’t count French fries and potato chips as a serving of vegetables, then how will you ever reach the daily requirement?
But, really, with these fun and easy tips, you’ll find yourself eating the recommended daily amount of five to thirteen servings of those healthy, vitamin-packed, fiber-rich, tasty fruits and vegetables every day.
Tip 1: When preparing waffles, pancakes, muffins or even cakes or breads, grate an apple into the mixture before cooking. If you don’t have an apple or don’t have the extra few minutes it takes to grate one, replace part of the oil or butter in the recipe by applesauce. This will result in a moist and nutritious, not to mention low fat, product.
Tip 2: Get rid of the whipped cream, fudge and caramel on your after dinner ice-cream. Instead, substitute a serving of fresh or frozen fruit such as raspberries, blueberries or strawberries. Try to eat within the season, in other words – berries in the spring, grapes in the summer, peaches in the fall and apples in the winter.
Tip 3: When cooking a main dish such as meatloaf, tacos, soups, stews or even spaghetti sauce, add some extra grated or chopped vegetables. Great suggestions that will add nutrients and vitamins but no extra fat include carrots, zucchinis, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions.
Tip 4: When the afternoon munchies hit, reach for a quick but healthy and filling snack. Opt for a handful of dried fruit and nuts, a banana and yogurt cup, a small bowl of cherries, berries or grapes and a slice of wheat bread and peanut butter, or try some of your favorite sliced vegetables with a few ounces of cheese. Make sure to add some protein to each snack, this will ensure that you are getting the correct ratios of food types and will fill you up until the next meal.
Tip 5: Eat a green vegetable every day. A dark and leafy green vegetable is recommended. Choose from lettuce, chard, kale, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers and cabbage for starters. If you haven’t tried them since you were a kid when you hated them – give them one more shot. You’ll probably be surprised.
Tip 6: When eating out ask for an extra serving of vegetables. When they arrive eat them first before digging into those refined carbohydrates! If there isn’t a vegetable served with the meal, be sure to ask for a salad.
Tip 7: When you would normally reach for a soda or an extra cup of java, try something different. Choose a glass of cold 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Not only will it increase you energy levels and add nutrients and vitamins, but it won’t add those extra empty calories associated with coffee and soda.
Tip 8: Keep a food journal. For one week, write down everything you eat, don’t change your diet from the norm. At the end of the week evaluate your daily menu. Determine if there are extra foods that you could omit which don’t add any value to your diet. Instead replace them with extra servings of healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables.