By: Gena Van Kirk, Registered Dietitian/Diabetes Educator
Have you ever gone on a diet in hopes of losing weight, only to go off the diet a short time later? Did you wonder, “Why didn’t this work for me?” Most diets only modify behaviors temporarily which often leads to short-term success and long-term disappointment.
Let’s take a closer look at the word diet. It can be defined in two very separate ways. Definition one, my favorite, is the usual food and drink of a person or animal. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? The second definition is the one we often think of first, a regulated selection or restriction of food for a specified outcome such as weight loss or other medical reasons. Sounds a little less appealing, doesn’t it?
My challenge to you is to break the “diet” mentality that we have become accustomed to and replace it with a nutrition consciousness that works for life. You can feel better, have abundant energy from morning to night, and look healthier. You may need to take a second look at your eating habits, but with your newfound knowledge about nutrition you should never have to diet again!
Are you ready? Here we go! By following the health conscious guidelines listed below in your everyday food intake, it can happen.
Foods to Include:
It is recommended that you make half of your grains “whole grains”
Examples include: oatmeal, barley, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole wheat and corn
Examples include: chicken or turkey without the skin, round or loin cuts of beef and pork, and fish high in omega 3 fats (salmon, lake trout, mackerel, and herring)
Include a large variety of deeply colored fruits and vegetables
Examples include: spinach, carrots, peaches and berries
Enjoy frozen vegetables and fruit, and shop for seasonal produce. Fruits and veggies are less expensive during their peak growing times. Grow a garden! Not only will you save on vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes, but you’ll stay active with this new hobby. A few ways to eat more fruit include adding it to your cereal, your salads or even your dinner.
Sneak in more veggies by adding a tomato on your sandwich, peppers on your pizza or extra veggies in your pasta sauce. Keep precut or canned/frozen veggies ready for quick snacks.
Heart-healthy fats and oils
Examples include: olive oil, canola oil, nuts and tub margarines
Eat low-fat or fat-free dairy.
Switching to skim milk or fat free yogurt is another simple way to decrease calories.
Foods to Limit:
Sweets and added sugars
Examples include: table sugar, sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, corn syrups, high- fructose corn syrup, concentrated fruit juice, honey, soda, fruit drinks, candy, cake and jellies
Foods high in sodium
Examples include: many canned and processed food items, pickled or smoked food items
Examples include: butter, whole milk, 2% milk and cheese, fatty meats and hydrogenated oils
Females should limit to one drink/day; males limit to two drinks/day
-Bring a healthy lunch and snacks to eat throughout the day because this will help you stick to healthy food options.
-Keep a bottle of water handy to drink throughout the day to stay hydrated.
-Eat in more frequently. Many restaurants come with extra large portions, and options at fast food restaurants are typically higher in fat, salt and sugar.
-Eat before you go shopping. Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach will leave you more likely to buy on impulse.
-Make your own pre-packaged snacks by buying a large container of raisins, unsalted nuts or popcorn (low salt and fat) and separating them into individual portions yourself.
-Plan your meals each week. By planning ahead, you can check the nutrition facts of a meal before you decide to make it and create a detailed grocery list for easy shopping. Planning also helps avoid impulse shopping.
-Make some substitutes. Look through your cabinets or fridge and pick three foods you eat every day. Write down the nutritional content. Then, the next time you’re at the store, find lower calorie substitutes for just those 3 items.