Unfortunately, most adults and one in three children in this country are overweight or obese. Once we’ve developed the habit of eating unhealthy and extremely tasty foods, it’s really hard to make the switch to an all healthy diet.
Changing the way you eat can be easier if you start by taking small steps in the right direction. You can identify your worst “bad food” habits and replace them with healthier choices.
High calorie favorites
Most of our calories come from foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats. At the top of the list are sweets like cookies and cakes, as well as yeast breads. You may also get extra calories from fried or baked chicken dishes, sodas and sports drinks. Pizza, pasta, tortilla dishes, beef dishes and alcohol also pile on the calories.
Eat less of these foods:
- Fast food
- Saturated fats
- Solid and trans fats
- Added sugar
- Refined grains
Eat more of these foods:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Lean protein
- Low-fat dairy
- Whole grains
- Healthy oils
You can make small changes to your eating habits and make a big difference in your calorie intake. Here are some ways you can swap out less healthy choices for healthier options:
- Swap sugary cereals for whole grain cereals with no sugar added and add fresh or dried fruit.
- Swap whole milk for 1% fat or even skim milk.
- Swap full fat Greek yogurt for fat-free Greek style yogurt
- Swap a glass of juice for real fruit
- Swap fatty meats for lean protein and seafood. Shoot for at least 8 ounces of fish a week.
- Swap white bread, pasta or rice for whole grain varieties.
- Swap butter and cheese for low-fat or fat-free options. Use olive or canola oils that are good for your heart and your waistline.
- Swap fatty cuts of meat for leaner cuts or choose skinless chicken or fish.
- Swap mashed potatoes or fries for sweet potato options or choose more colorful veggies.
- Swap creamy or cheesy sauces for tomato or vegetable-based sauces.
- Swap pan-frying with grilling when cooking meat.
- Swap whole milks for skim milk in your coffee or when you drink a glass of milk.
- Swap sweet tea for unsweetened tea.
- Swap sugary drinks for a glass of water.
Watch your serving size
Our portion sizes have gotten out of control in recent years. When you go to a restaurant, you get enough food to feed three people. Buffets also create a challenge because it’s hard to realize how much you’ve eaten. Start downsizing to healthier portions. You can learn to eyeball your food to make sure you are eating the right amount.
Shrink your plate
You were probably told to clean your plate when you were growing up. Just like portions, our dinner plates at home and in restaurants have gotten bigger. If you clean your plate, you’re probably eating too much. Start eating on smaller plates, and you will find that you eat less.
It’s hard to give up all of your favorite foods at once and switch to healthier options. Focus on one area at a time. For instance, start by making healthy changes in your breakfast routine. Then, switch out fatty meat options for more lean protein at lunch and dinner. Next, cut back on refined grains and choose whole grain.
By making smaller adjustments over time, you will soon find that you don’t even miss your old favorites!