5 Ways to Eat Better This Year
It's no wonder that people feel great when they make the switch over to a veg-centric diet: research shows that those who eat less meat and more plants are at lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity. They also have a better balance of all-important gut bacteria- move over Activia :) But minimizing meat isn't everything.
So now that the New Year's resolution season is over (which I honestly despise because people make unreasonable resolutions that they have no expectation of holding...), take the time to make some real changes and improve your overall health and energy level. Here a five simple steps to making a healthier you a reality.
Eat a Better Breakfast
Squeezing a bar, a smoothie or a frozen waffle in while you are on the road? True, any breakfast is better than none, but if you're eating on the go, chances are that you are not making the most out of your meal- and creating a bad habit for yourself (are you starting to feel like you need to eat every time you get behind the wheel...). If you eat while you are distracted, you are less likely to feel satisfied- mentally or physically. Aim to sit down a table for at least 5 minutes to eat a meal that is well rounded and includes a protein (eggs, peanut butter, yogurt), a whole grain (whole wheat toast, whole grain oatmeal), and some produce (bananas, berries, avocado). If you do this for yourself, then breakfast should keep you satiated until lunchtime or healthy snack time .
Expand your Protein Palate
Vegetarians can't and shouldn't exist on tofu alone. There are so many wonderful meatless protein options out there to explore! For example tempeh, which is an excellent source of protein, iron and calcium, is delicious and can be added to a multitude of recipes. Beans are also full of benefits and work well in many preparations. Don't forget that ancient grains such as quinoa, farro and amaranth are also great protein sources. Check out our article on Protein Rich Grains (Sept 2016) and get out there to experiment.
Pack Your Own Snacks
Smart snacking can help you stay on track all day; but it requires some forethought and anticipation, because when you are on the road or get caught off guard, you never know what you will find. Stack the odds in your favor by bringing along good-for-you snacks and teach your kids to do the same. Teach your family to avoid vending machines by being prepared. Prepare some hummus and carrot sticks or a pretzels and some organic cheese. Fruit is so easy to throw in any bag and is a great pick-me-up providing both nutrients and energy. One of the things that I do at home is a buy a selection of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and semi-sweet chocolate chips in bulk, so that everyone can pack their own trail mix to keep on hand in school, work or gym bags. This is fun, quick, provides protein, antioxidants and minerals such as iron.
Make Your Grains Whole
Opting for whole grains over refined grains at every opportunity is an easy way to make major imporvents in your family's diet and health, including lowering your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cholesterol. Read ingredients lists, to be sure, because sometimes labels can be confusing and even misleading. Remember, wheat is not the same as whole wheat, nor does multigrain necessarily mean wholegrain... Look specifically for the words "unrefined" or "whole-" when shopping for grains.
If losing weight is part of your personal goal, in addition to improving your all-round health, then follow these simple steps:
- Keep track of what you eat. Keeping an honest food journal and writing down all the food that you consume every day, can double your weight loss, according to a Kaiser Permanente study.
- Get your doctor or a nutritionist on board. Feeling supported goes a long way toward reaching weight-loss goals. It is confusing out there, having someone in your corner and guiding you, is a great way to lose weight the healthy way so that it becomes a lifestyle change, not merely a resolution. Accord to a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study, obese people who said that they received support and guidance from their primary care physician or a nutritionist, lost nearly twice as much weight as those who did not have that support. Check out our Services page for some of our Nutritional Consulting options and packages that may help you with your get healthy goals.
- Go vegetarian, or at least veg-centric. A study published in the Journal of General Medicine showed that vegetarian diets produce better weightless results than other weight reducing plans. A bigger intake of whole grains, fruit, and vegetables might be the reason. If full on vegetarianism isn't for you, try to limit the quantities and type of meat that you consume.
- Get some exercise. Get moving, preferably outside in the fresh air. Eating well is an extremely important part of weight loss, but fitness is the other half of the equation. You don't need to go crazy, just get out and go for a good walk every day and find a yoga class that works for you. The results will not only be quicker, but longer lasting as well.
- Get your sleep. Skimping on much-needed sleep can have major health consequences. A recent study from the Weill Cornell Medical College showed that losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep on weekdays can contribute to weight gain and diabetes risk. Lack of sleep adversely impacts your metabolism and increases cortisol that results in that hard-to-lose belly fat. Getting sleep is the easies weight-loss prescription you will ever get :)
- Eat fewer calories. It may sound basic, and it is, but just eating fewer calories will result in weight loss. Just make sure you do it intelligently- don't over restrict yourself that will only have the opposite effect by causing you to need to binge or quit because you think that it is too hard. Experts at the Mayo Clic suggest simple strategies such as putting smaller portions on your plate at mealtime and swapping high-calorie foods for lower-calorie ones. Make smart choices by reading labels and being thoughtful about the food that you consume.