Day in and day out I work with people that want to make changes in their diets. With all of the nutrition information and research out there, it can be difficult knowing where to start. Some studies may tell you that fat is the devil while others tell you that carbs are a no-go. What if I told you there was a simpler way to eat healthy? You will not need a magic pill or a special recipe, because let’s face it – dieting can be stressful. My goal is for healthy eating to come natural rather than a strike you as a burden.
Now, I forewarn you that this is not a magic solution for weight loss. If we don’t control our portion size there is still potential to gain weight while eating healthy, however it is much less likely. This pattern of eating could also help you improve your cholesterol numbers, fasting blood glucose, liver function, kidney function, and energy levels. Here are my four easy tips you can’t go wrong with when it comes to your diet.
- Drink More Water
There are no studies that show negative benefits from clean drinking water. Water can also help you stay full for longer periods of time, flush out your system, and eliminate muscle cramps and headaches. Carry a fancy water bottle to up your intake or simply set reminders for yourself to drink. I force myself to chug 20 ounces of water when I wake up in the morning. It is the first thing I do and helps me gauge how much I should eat for breakfast. Water has no calories, it rarely costs money, and it’s readily available in most places. Take advantage of this and start drinking more water now!
- Eat Whole Foods
When you think of what’s traditionally healthy do cellulose gum and maltodextrin come to mind? Absolutely not, but these are some of the strange things we continue to read on food labels. The easiest way to put this is that if a product does not have an ingredient list, it’s probably a healthy, whole food – think apples, bananas, spinach, etc. If it does, look for the minimal number of ingredients.
Check out this article for learning how to read a food label.
- Avoid Dining Out
There is no other reason to look further than fast food restaurants for America’s increasing obesity problem. While they’ve tried so desperately to implement healthy options, portion sizes get bigger and people stick to their staple meals. The convenience is hard to discredit and the consistency across restaurants is amazing. With that being said, McDonald’s salads can often have more calories than their Big Mac Sandwich. Loaded with sodium, trans fats, saturated fats, and sugars, fast food dining is not the way to go if you are conscious about weight.
Likewise, even traditional sit-down restaurants can take some of the blame for the increasing obesity epidemic. Portion sizes have increased tremendously since the 1960s and many all-you-can-eat establishments are attracting large crowds (no pun intended). Many people use dining out as a way to socialize and celebrate which often leads to alcohol consumption as well. That can weigh heavy on the wallet and the calories.
- Look at Foods in Comparison
This is something I wish everyone would do more of. I always have clients telling me about healthy foods that they’re eating at home. A great example is having a banana with yogurt. That is great, but what if you were to have strawberries with Greek yogurt? Less sugar, more fiber – it’s a win-win. There is often a better choice when we look at the foods we eat in comparison to others. I would encourage you to always try to pick the best option that looks appealing to you. I’m often in the mood for pizza, cheeseburgers, and pasta. If you happen to be too, then look at the foods in comparison to one another. A veggie pizza on pita crust would save you from the high calories, saturated fat, and sodium in tradition takeout or homemade pizza. An apple might be a more filling afternoon snack than a bag of Doritos due to its fiber content and it saves you roughly 60 calories. Drinking black coffee as opposed to a soda gives you the caffeine kick without the calories, added sugar, and artificial ingredients. If you transition from refined grain tortilla to whole grain, that’s great, but have you thought about lettuce wraps? You can do this with all foods, so next time you have to make a decision ask yourself, “is there a healthier option available?”.