Every day when you turn on the news there is someone discussing the latest and greatest diet trend to “try today!” Americans have gone low carb, no carb, raw, vegan, Paleo, low fat, south beach and cabbage soup! We have tried everything, so why are we still getting bigger? What is the answer? I am sorry to say that there is no one answer. If there was one answer, we would all be skinny! So, here is a common sense, gimmick-free look at what we should be eating:
- Eat whole or real foods. These are foods that your great-great grandmother would recognize. They have been minimally processed or are unchanged. They don’t have added ingredients. Examples are fruits, veggies, meat, and fish. These whole foods are things humans have been eating since humans have existed and are NOT created in a lab. Your great-great grandmother probably wouldn’t recognize Go-gurt!
- Eat a variety. Apples and chicken are good for you, but you shouldn’t eat apples and chicken every day for the rest of your life. We need to eat a variety of flavors and colors. You should eat your green vegetables but you should also eat your yellow ones and purple ones and red ones. Your diet should be like a rainbow and, unfortunately, most Americans’ diets are a little too beige. If you have picky eaters at home who want to stick to the basics, begin introducing a little at a time. If your kid will only eat chicken, jumping up to salmon might not work. Try slowly bringing in pork tenderloin and tilapia; work your way up to Brussels sprouts.
- Eat what you make at home. Frozen, store-bought pizza compared to a pizza that you make at home is very different. The store bought version almost always has way more sodium than you would ever use on your own. If you prepare your own food using ‘real’ ingredients, you will save countless calories and milligrams of sodium and sugar. And, perhaps more importantly, you will eat less junk. Think about it, if you only ate pizza, chicken nuggets, cookies, and doughnuts when you prepared them at home, you would only eat them once in a great while.
- Eat only until you’re satisfied- not full. Let’s face it, we eat too much. Our portion sizes are growing along with our waist lines. One tip is to try using a smaller plate, but this needs to be a lifestyle change. Healthy food might be a little more expensive, but if we eat a little less, and don’t waste what we buy, eating healthy shouldn’t break the bank.
- Snack smart. We need to stop reading the claims made on boxes in the supermarket. Just because something is low-fat, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Often times, they take out fat and add sugar or salt. Limit snacks to things like fruit, veggies, yogurt, and healthy nuts. Also, before you eat a snack ask yourself one quick question, “Am I hungry or bored?”
- Don’t drink your calories. Juices, sodas, and sweetened beverages are all around us. I, myself, am guilty of the Venti White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks. I don’t even want to know how many calories are in that delicious drink! And, I won’t name any names, but there are certain flavored water drinks out there that have just as much sugar as a soda. Make sure you read the labels. Limit your drinks to water, skim milk, unsweetened tea/coffee, and the occasional glass of wine. Eliminating one soda a day equals 15 pounds over a year’s time and will save you over 10,000 grams of sugar!
Follow these simple tips and you should be on the right track. Remember, eating healthy is only half the equation. The other half is moving more. If you want to really transform your health and well-being, you have to exercise too. If you want to read a good book about common sense rules to eating healthy, pick up Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules.