Tag Archives: nutritious foods

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!

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.