Tips for planning a healthy diet
There is so much advice these days about how to eat healthy, but here are our top tips for planning a healthy diet for you and your family:
- A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up and your metabolism going.
- Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts.
- Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different colour vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
- Avoid fruit juices, which can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per cup. These can be diluted with water.Canned fruit is often in sugary syrup, and dried fruit, while an excellent source of fibre, can be high in calories. Avoid fried veggies and those with dressings or sauces, as these generally contain too much unhealthy fat and calories.
- Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.
- 50-60% of the population is gluten sensitive or intolerant. I suggest trying an elimination diet where you eliminate all forms of gluten, seeds, and nuts from the diet. This allows one to easily begin to identify any offending food because after the seven days is over, you begin introducing any potential offender one at a time and monitoring your responses
- Drink water! Not coffee, not tea, not Red Bull, Coke, but water. We live in a polluted world, and the best solution to pollution is dilution. Water makes up about 75% of our bodies and helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins. Caffeinated beverages, in particular, actually cause the body to lose water. Fresh fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, contain plenty of water and can help with hydration.
- Watch for Portion Size: One serving of pasta means 1/2 cup of cooked pasta. However, most restaurants serve a pasta dish with 4 servings of pasta!!! You do not need to finish and clean off the plate every time. You can simply ask to take home the leftover.
- Understand Food Claims and Labels: A product labeled with a fat-free claim does not mean that it is low in calories. Similarly a product labelled as low-sugar or low-carb does not mean it is low in fat or calories. Always read the nutrition label on the packaging.
- Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day: Fruits and vegetables are packed with beneficial fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. They fill up your stomach fast so you feel full earlier. They are also low in calories and help to keep your calorie count low.
- Do not Skip Meals: Eating small frequent meals throughout the day helps to balance your calorie intake and also keeps your blood sugar level balanced. Instead of eating 3 big meals, try to eat 5 – 6 smaller meals throughout the day.
- Don’t be overly-restrictive: Everyone has his or her favorite treats. Simply allow yourself a little indulgence, but watch out for the frequency and the quantity. Having a small treat once in a while can be rewarding to your weight loss experience. Cutting too much of your favorite treats usually lead to an early relapse.
- Reduce or eliminate from your diet: Saturated fats, found primarily in animal sources including red meat and whole milk dairy products. Trans fats, found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
- Exercise, period: Most authorities recommend 30 – 60 minutes of physical activity a day to stay healthy. Also try adding weight-bearing exercises at least twice a week. This will help burn some of the unwanted calories.