Tag Archives: healthy eating habits

12 Simple Ways to Eat Less and Feel Better

usda my plate-984891711_v2.grid-4x2Do you eat when you’re bored? Stressed? Or wait until you feel starved and then overeat? Is it hard to judge portions, or do you end up with super-sized meals at restaurants?

Many factors can contribute to how much you eat. The good news is that you can control most of these factors and eventually turn them into healthy eating habits.

Here are 12 simple ways you can eat less on a daily basis and feel better about what you eat:

Serve yourself healthy foods first.
Load your plate up with the healthiest food choices first. Whether you’re eating at home, a restaurant or a buffet line, dish up the veggies, whole grains, and fruits before the fattier meats or side dishes. Then, you can go back and sample a few less healthy options or have a small dessert.

Use smaller plates and bowls.
The size of your dishes gives your brain cues on how much you’re “supposed” to eat. The bigger the dish means that you can have more food. In a study, people at a Chinese buffet who got a large plate served themselves 52% more food, and ate 45% more of it, than those who had smaller plates.

Use taller glasses.
Just like less food looks like more food on a smaller plate, height makes things look larger than width, even if the volume of both glasses is the same. You can cut down on liquid calories by choosing taller glasses rather than shorter, fatter ones.

Eat protein for breakfast.
Most studies recommend eating breakfast every day to help kick start your metabolism. But, you only get the true benefits of breakfast if it’s high in protein. More protein can suppress your appetite and reduce subsequent eating throughout the day. Skip the pancakes and waffles, and grab an omelet instead.

Eat three meals a day.
While we’ve all heard that we should eat more, smaller meals throughout the day, research is showing that three bigger meals a day may still be the best way to control your appetite. However, skipping meals will make controlling your appetite more difficult. If you eat healthy at regular meals, you shouldn’t need any additional food.

Hide unhealthy snacks.
Studies have shown that people eat a lot more food when the food is visible, rather than putting it away where it can’t be seen. The harder food is to get to may also deter some of your snacking habits. Even better yet, keep tempting junk foods out of the house. And, on the flip side, keep healthy foods prominently displayed and easy to reach.

Order the “small” choice.
A larger container or plate can tempt you to eat more food. You may be full or even think it doesn’t taste that good, and still feel obligated to eat it. When it comes to movie popcorn, french fries, or fountain drinks, choose the smallest size option and you’ll eat less.

Take a doggy bag.
Restaurant portions are most likely going to set you up to overeat. You want a good deal for your money, but those large portions can contain more than 1,200 calories without including dessert. One trick is to divide the food on your plate in half before you start eating. Then stop eating when you’ve finished half and ask for a to-go container. You’ll have a healthier meal and leftovers for tomorrow.

Pack your lunch for work.
Even better than eating out for lunch during the week, pack your own lunch. You will be able to control the portions and select a balance of healthy foods. It’s also more cost effective and can help ensure that you eat those leftovers.

Know your weaknesses.
We all have food weaknesses. The food you can’t resist. The food you can’t stop eating. Or the food you eat even if you’re not hungry. Think about your food weaknesses. Once you recognize what they are, you can learn to avoid eating them. Don’t buy them at the grocery store. Bypass the co-worker who always brings yummy homemade desserts. You can avoid the food until you gain the strength to give up the craving.

Don’t eat from a package.
When you can’t see how much you’re eating, you’re more likely eat double or triple the proper portion. Who can eat just one potato chip out of the bag? Use a plate, bowl or even a napkin so that you can see how much you’re going to eat. And put the package away so you won’t be tempted to dump out more.

Eat slowly and savor your food.
Eating should be enjoyable. There is a benefit to slowing down and appreciating your food. Take your time between bites and chew thoroughly. When you eat more slowly, you can recognize when you’re beginning to feel full. You can stop eating before you clean your plate and feel too full. Drink water while you’re eating. These simple steps can help you cut back on unnecessary calories.

By following these simple tips, you can learn to eat less, still feel full and feel better about your eating habits.

14 Healthier Treats to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 10.22.24 AMI love dessert. And I’m an equal opportunity dessert eater. I like it all – pies, cakes, cobblers, ice cream, cookies, brownies, chocolate – anything that’s sweet and decadent.

However, it can be difficult to maintain healthy eating habits when you love all things dessert. And, basically anything that will satisfy your sweet tooth is most likely going to sabotage your healthy diet.

We have blogged about the dangers and health risks of eating too much sugar in the past. The average American eats and drinks 22 teaspoons – or almost half a cup – of added sugar each day. The American Heart Association recommends that women eat only 6 teaspoons per day and 9 teaspoons a day for men.

Here are 14 ways you can satisfy your need for something sweet and stick to your healthy habits:

Dark chocolate
Eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate (1.4 ounces) can improve your mood and reduce stress levels. So, you can enjoy a small bit of chocolatey goodness without the guilt.

Frozen yogurt
If you’re having a craving for ice cream, substitute frozen yogurt as a good alternative. It’s the same consistency as regular ice cream and it tastes almost as sweet.

Yogurt with toppings
Top a cup of plain Greek yogurt with your favorite treats – crumbled graham crackers, granola, nuts or fruit. You can even add some shaved dark chocolate. You get a decadent dessert without all the added calories.

Jell-O brand cups
Jell-O has single serving cups in many varieties and flavors. You can get pudding cups that have the same creamy flavor as cheesecake but with much less fat and calories. You can even make your own pudding from a powdered mix, using skim milk to keep it healthy. Add your own toppings for more flavor and fun.

Fresh fruit
Any piece of fresh fruit will offer enough natural sugar to fill your sweet tooth craving. It’s also an extremely healthy choice for added nutrients and fiber. Mix up your fruit and create tasty fruit salads.

Dried fruit
Dried fruit is handy to pack on the go as a quick snack and is a great way to have a sweet treat. Make sure if you’re buying packaged dried fruit that you check for no added sugar.

Fudge popsicle
With a fudge popsicle, you can get an ice cream fix along with the great taste of chocolate. It has fewer calories than regular ice cream or even slow-churned ice cream.

Nutella popcorn
You can make another chocolatey treat with Nutella and popcorn. Pop a small bag of natural popcorn and top it with 1 tablespoon of melted Nutella. It’s crunchy along with the perfect amount of sweetness!

Chocolate Nutty Pretzels
A salty and sweet combo may also help you with those sugary cravings. Microwave one square of dark chocolate and one teaspoon of natural peanut butter until both are melted. Then dip pretzels or pretzels rods for a great snack.

Sorbet
Keeping a pint of healthy sorbet on hand is a great option for filling a dessert craving without resorting to ice cream. You can even make your own sorbet if you’re feeling adventurous!

Frozen grapes
Put a bag or container of grapes in the freezer for a few hours, and you’ll have a long-lasting, sweet treat with antioxidants and other nutrients. Grapes also contain resveratrol, which may help lower bad cholesterol levels and be good for your heart.

Trail mix
You can make your own trail mix. Simply combine a healthy mix of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or pistachios, with dried cranberries, cherries or raisins. You can also add in a few dark chocolate pieces for a great snack with good nutrition, too.

Animal crackers
A good-sized handful of animal crackers has just 120 calories and about 7 grams of sugar. While kids like to snack on them, adults can enjoy them, too!

Chocolate milk
Need a sweet treat during your day? Chocolate milk is good for you and boosts calcium and vitamin D, which research shows is important for preserving cartilage and joint health. Chocolate low-fat milk has also been shown to replenish stores of energy and nutrition after a vigorous workout or activity.

Now I want to eat something sweet, and you probably do, too! A healthy diet means eating a variety of foods and eating them all in moderation. Just be sure to watch portion sizes and treat yourself to these healthy dessert options.

11 Ways to Lose Weight Without Dieting

diet-776158-mAs I finally start to see sunshine and a hint of spring, I’ve realized that I have been hibernating all winter. My pants are feeling a little snug after the winter months, and I am worried it will soon be time for shorts and bathing suits.

You may be thinking about making a change and losing weight, but the idea of overhauling your eating habits and daily routine may seem too overwhelming. What if you could learn to eat less without feeling like you’re being deprived or attempting a huge change?

Here are 11 ways you can create healthier habits and lose weight without dieting:

Eat more slowly
My husband eats like someone might suddenly grab his plate of food and take it away from him. Nutrition experts say that eating too quickly is not only harder on your digestion, your brain needs time to process that you’re full. Set a timer for 20 minutes and teach yourself to be a slow eater. Savor each bite, and you will be less likely to overeat.

Catch the eating pause
When you eat more slowly, you are also more likely to catch the “eating pause.” Most people have a natural pause while eating when they set down their fork for a couple of minutes. Watch for this moment and don’t eat any more. This is the signal that you’re full, but not stuffed. You can learn to recognize it.

Use smaller plates
It may seem silly, but using a smaller plate for meals can trick your mind into thinking you’ve eaten a plate full of food. It just doesn’t realize it was a smaller plate – and therefore less food. And, for some reason, eating off of blue plates tends to decrease your appetite.

Try more veggies
Serve more veggies with dinner each night, instead of just one veggie serve three, and you’ll eat more without really trying. More variety can also trick you into eating more food, at least the good types of food. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a great way to lose weight. The high fiber and water content fills you up with fewer calories and more vitamins and minerals.

Dine at home
A survey found that one of the top ways to lose weight is to eat home-cooked meals at least five days a week. You can find ways to make quick meals with lean cuts of meat, whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables.

Bring your lunch
Packing a lunch gives you the chance to have more control over your food intake. You can even bring leftovers from the meals you make at home. You’ll also save money while eating more healthy.

Drink water
Many people mistake thirst for hunger and grab something to eat. Drinking cold water can help your metabolism since your body will work harder to warm it up and burns more calories. Drinking water also allows your body to filter out toxins and keep you feeling full.

Sip green tea
Green tea can also boost your metabolism. The beverage has antioxidant power, so switch it up with drinking a glass water. Drinking green tea can also help you replace sugary drinks and cut calories.

Chew mint gum
Chewing sugarless gum with a strong flavor can also help you avoid a snack attack. Gum with a powerful punch can make foods not taste as good and deter mindless snacking. Brushing your teeth is another way to discourage additional snacking – most everyone likes that freshly-brushed teeth feeling.

Sleep more
Studies have shown that sleeping an extra hour a night could help you drop 14 pounds in a year. When sleep replaces other idle activities or mindless snacking, you can cut your calorie intake. In addition, getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night can rev up your appetite, making you feel more hungry.

Burn 100 more calories a day
You can lose 10 pounds in a year without dieting by burning an extra 100 calories every day. It’s easier than you may think to burn 100 calories a day. For instance, you can walk a mile in about 20 minutes, pull weeds or garden for 20 minutes, clean house for 30 minutes, or jog for 10 minutes.

The idea of overhauling your eating habits and lifestyle to lose weight can seem daunting. These simple tips can help you lose weight without dieting and allow you to create a real and lasting change in your life!

8 Ways to Control Your Holiday Eating

pumpkin-pie-1372787-mOn the best of days, it can be hard to control your eating. The holiday season challenges even the most routine eating habits. You’re running errands and eating on the go. You have holiday parties, family gatherings and lunch with friends.

Adding in the additional stress and changes in your routine, how do you maintain your healthy diet during the holidays?

Here are 8 ways to control your eating and enjoy a happier and healthier holiday season:

Start with the healthy options
Whether you’re sitting around the holiday table, grabbing food off of a buffet or eating on the go, load up on the healthiest items first. Start with a salad, fresh fruit or a veggie dish. Then, choose the whole grains and lean meats. Last, sample a few bites of different desserts. You’ll fill up on the better food choices and eat less of the foods you don’t need.

Concentrate on eating
When you eat with friends, family or co-workers, you may not pay as much attention to what – and how much – you are putting into your mouth. By concentrating on what you’re eating, you will be able to tell when your stomach is letting you know you’re full. If you’re paying attention, you’ll know when to quit rather than mindlessly eating.

Eat slowly
We are always in a hurry and often eat on the go. You may be guilty of stuffing your mouth full of food and hurrying to swallow it down. Do you even really taste the foods you’re eating? Chew slowly and really savor the food in your mouth. Taking it slow will also give you time to realize that you’re full, rather than finding out later that you are over-stuffed with food.

Plan on leftovers
Most families serve way too much food at the holidays. It’s best to assume that you will have leftovers instead of feeling you have to eat it all. Making two meals out of what you might have eaten in one sitting will help you control how much you eat.

Be in charge of your stomach
Your well-meaning mother-in-law or aunt may try to push food on you. The people who cook the food usually enjoying seeing others eat the food. They want you to try every dish and give your opinion. If you’re feeling full, politely let them know you aren’t hungry now, but you’ll be sure to try it later. Or, offer to take it home as leftovers.

Snack healthy
As you’re running errands or preparing food ahead of time, make sure you choose healthy snacks. Rather than sampling the food you’re making, have a banana, grapes, carrot sticks or a handful of nuts to keep you from getting too hungry. If you sit down to eat and you’re starving, you are more likely to overeat.

Rest after eating
When you’ve finished a meal, take a few minutes to rest. Give your stomach time to digest before you go back to running errands or attending the next holiday gathering. It’s also good to take a few minutes to relax and recharge to keep your stress levels down. Running yourself ragged and becoming stressed can lead to eating unhealthy food choices.

Find new sources of comfort
If eating comfort foods is a way for you to cope with stress or handle holidays with the family, try doing something different. Call a friend, go outside for a walk in the sun, read a book or take up a hobby that keeps you occupied. The goal is to distract yourself from making unhealthy food choices during the chaos of the holidays.

You can maintain your healthy eating habits during the holiday season. Keep these tips in mind as you run your holiday errands, fix festive dishes or attend holiday parties!

Swap Junk Food With Healthy Food

cupcakes-1155519-mWhy are the foods that taste so good so bad for us? I love chips, soda, fast food and anything that’s called dessert.

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:

  • Salt
  • Fast food
  • Saturated fats
  • Solid and trans fats
  • Added sugar
  • Refined grains

Eat more of these foods:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean protein
  • Seafood
  • 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:

Breakfast

  • 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

Lunch

  • 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.

Dinner

  • 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.

Drinks

  • 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!

8 Secrets to Eating Smarter

empty-plate-with-forks-and-knifes-1357304-mLike most Americans, my eating habits need help. I am addicted to fast food, decadent desserts, sweet drinks and unhealthy snacking.

Most adults and one-third of the kids in this country are overweight. You can change your eating habits, but it means changing your lifestyle and learning to eat healthier on a daily basis.

You can replace the worst food offenders with healthier choices. It’s also important to watch portion control and pay more attention to your snacking.

Here are 8 secrets to eating smarter and changing your eating habits for life:

Control serving size
Most servings in fast food chains and even restaurants are over-sized. We have become accustomed to large servings and assume that this is the right amount of food to eat at a meal. Unfortunately, many of these meals contain almost all the calories and fat you need to eat in one day – packed into one meal.

You can learn to judge the right portion size of the foods you eat. Here are some common foods, and the size you should picture in order to judge portion size:

  • Medium baked potato = a computer mouse
  • Pasta = 1/2 a baseball
  • Cooked rice = a light bulb
  • Waffle = size of a CD
  • Muffin = tennis ball
  • Bagel = hockey puck
  • Cheese = four dice
  • Meat or fish = deck of cards or palm of your hand
  • Peanut butter = golf ball
  • Portion of fat = poker chip
  • Dessert = 1/2 a baseball

Plan for dining out
It’s important to remember portion sizes when you are eating out at restaurants. As we mentioned earlier, when dining out the meals can be enough food for two or three people.

Here are some tips to curbing portion size at restaurants:

  • Order a half portion or kids’ meal
  • Box up half of a full-size entree before you even start eating
  • Split a dish with your partner or a friend
  • Eat a healthy appetizer with a soup or salad instead of a main entree

Use a smaller plate
As a kid, you may have been told to clean your plate. You may have been taught not to waste food. The problem is that dinner plates – at home and in restaurants – have gotten bigger. We also load them up with more food than we need. If you are cleaning your plate, you are probably eating too much.

The secret is to use a smaller plate. It may seem silly, but it can help. You are forced to take smaller portions, and you may make better choices knowing you have less room on your plate. Even if you go back for seconds, you are still eating less than you did with bigger plates. Put leftovers away right after the meal, so you aren’t tempted to come back and graze.

Look for whole grains
Pizza, pasta, rice and tortillas can load on calories and fill you up with white flour and refined grains. These flours and grains have been processed to remove the bran. The bran is full of fiber and vitamins. Choose whole grain wheat, rice, barley and other grains when you can.

Watch our for solid fats
Most saturated and trans fats are solid at room temperature. These fats are found in butter, margarine, shortening, coconut oil and animal fats. Creamy dishes, fatty cuts of meat, some cheeses, bacon and chicken skin all have solid fat. While some fatty foods are good for you, you may want to learn the truth about good and bad fats.

Cut back on sugar
As a whole, we eat too much sugar. It’s just so easy! We have sodas, sports drinks, cookies, cakes and every kind of yummy pre-packaged treat. Desserts have also become over-sized and packed with sugar and unhealthy fats. The average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar a day when we should only eat about 6 to 9 teaspoons. Artificial sweeteners may not be any better for us than real sugar. Read more in 6 Truths about Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners.

Eat more nutritious foods
As you cut back on portion size, you can also add in more healthy and nutritious choices to your diet. Instead of fatty meats, choose lean protein and seafood. Fish is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Choose whole grains instead of refined white flour and grains. Add in more fruit and vegetables, eggs, low-fat dairy and beans. Cut back on butter and margarine, and choose olive and canola oil. These oils are good for your waistline and your heart.

Keep an eye out for food frauds
Many healthy foods can wreck your diet if you go overboard on the serving sizes. Here are some good for you foods that should still be consumed in moderation:

  • Avocado
  • Red wine
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Trail mix
  • Dried fruit
  • Energy bars
  • Smoothies

It’s hard to change eating habits that may have been developed when we were kids. It takes practice and hard work to create healthier habits. By starting with portion control and thinking about the foods you eat each day, you can learn to eat smarter and create better habits for life!

11 Tips to Eating Healthy When Dining Out

rusted-neon-green-and-white-cafe-sign-1337952-mSummertime can mean more time spent dining out. With three kids in summer sports, we often end up eating fast food between games or going out to a restaurant after the evening’s activities are finished.

We also spend more time traveling, going on vacation or visiting family and friends. It can be tempting to indulge in foods that are not necessarily part of your normal eating habits. It is also easy to eat as many as 2,000 calories in just one meal.

While you may dine out more in the summer, it doesn’t mean you have to sabotage your healthy eating habits. The key is to pay attention to your food choices and make sure that you are choosing healthy options.

Here are 11 tips to selecting healthy food choices when dining out:

Think about your beverage
Sodas and sugary drinks are a huge source of calories. Stick with water, or you can order unsweetened iced tea or fat-free or low-fat milk.

Get dressing on the side
Salad dressing can also add unnecessary calories. Request that your salad dressing be served on the side. Then, you can use only what you need. You may also want to choose vinaigrette or oil-based dressing rather than creamy dressings to cut down on calories.

Request whole-wheat bread
If you’re at a restaurant that serves bread before your meal arrives, ask for whole-wheat bread. You can also request whole-wheat bread on your sandwich or as a bun. In addition, order brown rice instead of white rice, and whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta.

Find hidden calories
You can keep an eye out for the most fattening foods at restaurants by reading the menu closely. Watch for words like deep-fried, sauteed, battered, breaded, cheesy, creamy, buttered or creamy. These phrases are usually signs you’ll be eating extra fat and calories.

Ask how it’s cooked
How your food is prepared makes a big difference. If the menu description isn’t clear, ask how the item is cooked. For instance, baking fish with herbs and veggies adds very few calories and fat compared to deep-frying or even sauteeing in sauces or butter. Other great cooking options include grilling, broiling, roasting, poaching and steaming.

Order sauces on the side
Even if you’re ordering a salad or a fish dish that appears to be healthy, be wary of the dressing or sauce. You may be getting tons of calories without even realizing it. As we mentioned earlier, you can request to have these add-ons served on the side. Better yet, you may find that some dishes taste great even without the added sauces. It’s also best to choose marinara or tomato sauce over an alfredo or cream-based sauce.

Choose fruits and veggies
Pick vegetables sides, such as broccoli, cauliflower, corn, green beans, peas or lima beans. You may be able to select a fruit as a side or even for dessert. Just like at home, try to make fruits and vegetables half your plate.

Substitute
You can make substitutions if your meal comes as a platter or combination. Ask to substitute a vegetable for french fries. Or, if your main dish comes with coleslaw, ask for a salad or fresh fruit instead.

Mind your portions
Portions have gotten out of control over the years. It is even more likely you’ll be served an over-sized portion at a restaurant. You can control your portions by splitting a dish with someone else, ordering appetizers as your main dish, or taking home leftovers.

Share dessert
While extremely tasty, desserts at restaurants are typically loaded with calories and fat. To satisfy your sweet tooth, you can split a dessert with a dinner companion. Or, if you’re dining out with a group, order a few desserts to share. You can also order fresh fruit to help balance these more decadent desserts.

Eat slowly and enjoy
Take the time to enjoy your food. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you’re full. If you eat quickly, you are more likely to overeat. Chew your food slowly and be mindful of what you are eating. Savor your food. Eating should be relaxing. When you enjoy your meal, you digest better and feel more satisfied.

You can also prepare ahead of time when you know you might dine out. Plan a light lunch if you know you’re going out to eat for dinner.

You should still eat regular meals rather than skipping meals and over-indulging later. You also don’t want to go to a restaurant starving and then eat too much. Balance your meals throughout the day so you can enjoy eating out without overeating.

10 Healthy Eating Myths and Facts

Healthy eating myths and factsSome days, it’s difficult to decide what to eat. Dairy products are bad for you. Carbs make you gain weight. No late night snacking. Eat low-fat foods because all fats are bad.

With this blog, we hope to help you demystify the rules of healthy eating. As with life, a healthy diet seems to truly be about balance. Eating a healthy, balanced diet of good nutritious foods is the best way to go.

Here are 10 common dieting myths and the truths that will set you on the path to a more healthy, balanced diet:

Myth: Some sugars are worse than others
As we blogged about recently, all sugar is simply sugar. Table sugar, agave, honey and high-fructose corn syrup add up to about the same calories. Your body absorbs all these types of sugar in similar ways. Rather than try to find the “best” sugar or avoid one kind of sugar, you should try to limit added sugars of any kind. This means sugary sodas, candy and other sweets.

Myth: Nighttime eating is more fattening
Many dieting methods will tell you not to eat after a certain time in the evening. The theory is your body will store more fat because it is not burned off with any activity. Studies have been conducted and found that eating a large meal late at night did not make the body store more fat.

Myth: Coffee is bad for you
We have also written in the past about the health benefits of coffee. Two to three cups of coffee a day has actually been proven to be part of a healthy diet and provides you with antioxidant phytochemicals. Coffee may help reduce the risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, gallstones and some cancers. However, use cream, sugar and flavored syrups in moderation.

Myth: All cholesterol is bad
There is good and bad cholesterol. We all need some cholesterol to build cells and make vital hormones. Saturated fats – found in meat, cheese, cream and butter – tend to raise LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol. It’s best to minimize your saturated fat intake. You can eat more healthy fats, which help raise your DHL or “good” cholesterol.

Myth: Sea salt is good for you
Are you thinking of switching to sea salt to save on sodium? Gourmet salts have the same sodium as your table salt. Try using spices, herbs or pepper to add more flavor to foods. You already get about 75% of your salt intake from processed and prepared foods, not the salt shaker.

Myth: The less fat the better
As we mentioned, you need to eat some fats to thrive. You should eat the good, unsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, fish, olives and avocado. You should limit saturated fats, while avoiding trans fats (or hydrogenated oils) as much as possible.

Myth: Carbs make you fat
Just like fats, not all carbohydrates are bad for you. People tend to lose weight on low-carb diets because these diets also restrict calories. Fewer calories mean fewer pounds over time. However, good carbs can help you feel more full and keep you from overeating or grabbing, unhealthy snacks.

Myth: Dairy is unhealthy
Skimmed and semi-skimmed milks actually have more calcium than the full-fat milk. The calcium is in the water part of milk, not the creamy part. If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, low-fat milk and dairy products can give you nutrients without added fat.

Myth: Margarine is better than butter
Ordinary margarine contains just as much fat and calories as real butter. Margarine also contains hydrogenated oils which are considered trans fats – the category of fats that you should avoid.

Myth: Grazing helps you lose weight
While eating small, nutritious snacks between meals can help you curb your appetite, constant grazing sets you up to eat too many calories. You may also lose your ability to pay attention to your body’s natural cues that you are hungry or full if you continually graze.

As with most things, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is no secret trick to weight loss or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The most effective approach is to form a lifelong habit of eating a nutritious, balanced diet and exercising regularly.

7 Fatty Foods That Are Good For You

Fatty foods that are good for youAre you having eaters’ remorse after indulging in a tasty Easter meal this past weekend? You may be worried that you consumed too many fatty foods. But you may have actually eaten good fats.

In addition, eating more fat – instead of less – can be key to helping you reduce your calorie intake. You won’t feel deprived like you do when you eat all low-fat foods or turn to carbohydrates to feel full.

We recently blogged that fatty foods may not be as bad for us as we once thought. It’s about more than just the amount of fat you eat. It’s the types of fat you eat that really matter.

Trans fats are still to blame for many of the unhealthy things that all fats get blamed for – heart disease, weight gain, clogged arteries and more. Trans fats are also called hydrogenated oils and are made from unsaturated fat that has been chemically altered to keep food fresh longer. Your body has no use for these fats.

On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can be good for you. They can help raise good HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol, and protect against the build up of plaque in your arteries.

You should still keep an eye on how much fat you eat. The USDA recommends that you keep your total fat intake to 20-35% of daily calories. You should limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories. Limit trans fats to only 1% of your calorie intake.

Here are 7 foods that are packed with healthy fats:

Olive oil
Olive oil is often used in a Mediterranean diet. It is a healthier choice over vegetable or palm oil. It may help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancers. Olive oil has 100 calories per tablespoon, so you should still use it in moderation.

Eggs
Eggs are a great source of protein. We have been told that egg whites are the healthier part of the egg because they have less fat. While the egg yolk has some fat, it also has important nutrients. The yolk contains choline, a B vitamin that helps regulate the brain, nervous system and cardiovascular system.

Dairy
Cheese is packed with protein and fats that help keep you full. It’s great for a snack and for eating on the go. Milk and yogurt that are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids are a source of good fat. While sour cream has a bad reputation as a fatty food, at least half of its calories come from saturated fat. In fact, it has half the calories of a tablespoon of mayonnaise.

Seeds and nuts
Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds are good for you. Flaxseeds are also a good source of omega-3s. Nuts are a great monounsaturated fat. Grab a handful of almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans or cashews.

Fish
Fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout and sardines, are a good source of healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating two 3-ounces servings of fish each week.

Avocados
Avocados are high in fat, but it’s the monounsaturated, hearty-healthy kind that is good for your cholesterol. In addition, when you eat avocados with other food, they can help your body better absorb nutrients. Add avocado slices to a sandwich or substitute avocados for butter or cream cheese.

 Soy foods
You may be surprised how many foods you can buy that are made from soybeans. You can try tofu, miso, tempeh, soy milk and edamame. Soy products have many health benefits including the plant-based fatty acid ALA. You can even snack on roasted soybeans.

The key to healthy eating is creating a balanced diet with a variety of good food choices. It also helps to create healthy eating habits.

11 Healthy Eating Habits for 2014

Eat breakfast every day healthy eating habitsI love to eat. And I like to eat junk. Give me potato chips, brownies and pie a la mode. That was okay until I hit 40 years old. Then, things started to change. My butt became more jiggily and my belly got paunchier.

I need to change my eating habits for better health. There is no magic diet or easy fix. It’s all about finding balance in your diet, and balance in your life in general.

Healthy eating comes down to creating healthy habits. Let’s face it: with all the fast food and junk food options available, it can be hard to resist giving in to bad eating habits.

You can make lifelong changes to how and what you eat. But, it won’t happen overnight. It takes time to make good habits stick.

Here are 11 healthy eating tips to help you on the path to a balanced lifestyle:

Eat breakfast every day
Most people who have achieved and maintained their weight loss goals, eat breakfast every morning. Your morning meal will jump start your metabolism and give you the energy to tackle the day. Eating breakfast can also help you absorb more vitamins and minerals. You are less likely to have a hunger attack during the day when you’ve had a healthy breakfast.

Eat more often
When you eat more often – usually every 2 to 3 hours – you keep your stress hormone cortisol at a steady level. High cortisol levels tell your body to start storing fat, typically in your belly region. Skipping meals sends your cortisol levels off the charts. Eating 6 small meals a day can help you lose weight and feel better.

Eat moderate portions
However, if you are eating more often, you need to eat moderate portions. Eating more often doesn’t give you a license to eat more. It’s about letting your body digest and use energy more efficiently throughout the day.

Drink water
I know we have blogged about this many times. Drinking water affects so many areas of your health. It keeps your body working in homeostasis and aids in almost every aspect of your body’s functions. And we don’t mean soda, iced tea or energy drinks – just plain old water.

Know your diet downfalls
We all have our diet downfalls. You may salt everything you eat. You might crave sugar when you get tired or stressed. You may add a lot of butter or dressings to your food. We all have our bad eating habits. I love sweets. I would like to eat dessert with every meal and as a snack. Make it a goal to break these bad eating habits.

Reduce (not eliminate) unhealthy choices
At the same time, you want to enjoy your meals. If you try to cut out all the bad food choices at once, you will become disheartened by your healthy eating habits very quickly. Make it a point to moderate the less healthy choices. Eat a small piece of cake, or salt your food half as much as you normally would. As you adjust to better eating and start feeling better, you will find you miss those unhealthy foods less than you think.

Listen to your body
When you start to feel hungry between meals, eat a healthy snack. When you feel full, stop eating. Because we have food available all the time, we tend to eat when we’re bored, lonely or stressed.

Sit down for dinner
Make it a point to sit down to dinner every evening. You can talk with your family or friends about the ups and downs of the day. Or, simply listen to everyone else. If you live alone, you can still sit down and enjoy your meal – rather than grazing or eating over the sink. Sitting down to a meal helps you relax, connect with others and enjoy your food.

Plan to have setbacks
You will fall off the healthy wagon, so to speak. You’ll pig out from time to time. You’ll have three donuts at work after you just had breakfast. You’ll salt that already salty food. Don’t beat yourself up or feel like you have failed. Tomorrow is a new day to get back on track to creating balanced eating habits.

Set a bedtime routine
While it may not seem to have anything to do with healthy eating habits, a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your health and wellness. In addition, going to bed and waking up around the same time every day can help set your body’s natural rhythms. You will feel more rested and less likely to become stressed or turn to food for comfort or an energy boost during the day.

Find your balance over time
Healthier eating habits take time. There is no quick fix. It’s about changing your mindset and relationship with food. Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Every healthy change you make to your diet matters. Even if you can’t completely give up sweets, salt or fatty foods, reducing how much you eat or how often you eat it, still helps you on your path to a more balanced diet. And creating a more balanced life!