Did you know that the TYPE of calories you are consuming is just as important as the NUMBER of calories you intake? Here is an easy guideline to help with weight loss.
Eat More Vegetables. How many vegetables do you eat each week? My recommendation is to start with a variety of fresh vegetables and aim for at least three servings each day. Which vegetables? Choose non-starchy veggies, such as greens, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado and mushrooms. Limit starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes to a couple of servings per week. Buy fresh produce and enjoy the vitamins, nutrients and goodness these veggies bring into your body!
Choose Healthy Fats. Contrary to popular diet myth, eating healthy fats can be good for you. Fats fill us up, provide satisfaction, and make us less likely to overeat. We need fats for our bodies to run smoothly. And there is absolutely no reason to think that adding fats to our diet is a bad thing. Consider adding responsible portion sizes of olive oil, nuts, avocado, fatty fish, and flax seeds to your everyday food choices.
Eat Enough Protein. Check on your protein intake to be sure you are getting enough, and don't be afraid to experiment with adding more. The National Academy of Science says we can safely eat up to 35% of our diet as protein, and protein tends to be self-limiting. In other words, it's really hard to eat too much. Adding small servings of lean beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, plant-based proteins (beans, tofu) and low-fat dairy items to your meals will boost your protein intake. An occasional protein bar is okay and convenient, but fresh, natural ingredients are best.
Go for Quality over Quantity. As you are increasing your vegetables, healthy fats and protein, cut down on the portion sizes of your high carbohydrate foods. Did you know that you should eat about a cup of pasta in a meal? Half a cup of potatoes or rice is a standard serving size. Use a measuring cup to serve your portions and become acquainted with how much a true portion is by remembering what the portion size looks like on your plate. Eliminate the open spaces on your plate by using a smaller plate to feel full and satisfied.
Be Choosy About Taste. Don't waste your food choices on boring or less-than-delicious food. Have a 2 x 2-inch piece of a really great cake, or a small scoop of premium ice cream. One square of really good dark chocolate can satisfy anyone.
Choose Brown over White. Select brown rice instead of white rice, and whole-wheat bread instead of white. When possible, eat your grains whole instead of ground into flour. Look for whole-grain ingredients on food labels. Some people find a "no white diet" to be an easy way to cut back on carbs -- no white potatoes, white rice, white sugar, or white flour. If that seems too extreme, become aware of white ingredients and cut-back on portions, or choose a healthier alternative.
Change Up your Eating Habits. Start substituting lower-carb foods for high carb counterparts. Trade sugary cereals for a high-fiber option (3 or more grams of fiber per serving is a good guideline). Cook with whole-wheat pasta or spaghetti squash instead of white pasta. Have a package of nuts at the movie instead of popcorn. Replacing your white potato with a sweet potato offers a nice change of pace and boosts your fiber intake too.
Choose just one of these suggestions and implement it into your meal plan this week. Making an intentional effort to consistently replace bad habits with new ones is crucial for success. Best wishes for a fantastic new year!