Almost 70 percent of the typical American diet is made up of processed foods. In the health and fitness industry, we are flooded with clients frustrated with their weight who report a diet filled with pre-packaged, nutrient-poor foods. This year, the goal is to make healthy choices that fit into your lifestyle without depriving yourself of everything you love. This month, experiment with different recipes and do not be afraid to try new things. If you are inexperienced with cooking or wary about trying new things, don’t worry because all it takes are a few simple steps to get you started!
Substitutions can make all the difference in making your favorite dish healthy. For example, you can swap Greek yogurt for sour cream and replace empty fat calories with protein! You can also use Greek yogurt in chicken salad or dips to keep the flavor you love! Applesauce or mashed bananas can be used in baked goods in place of sugar to reduce calories and add moisture.
Shop for “cold and colors.”
As a general rule of thumb, anything that has to be refrigerated in the grocery store is fresher and will contain less preservatives and artificial ingredients. Things that have a long shelf life tend to contain additives that make you pile on the pounds. When you go to the grocery store, shop around the edges, in the areas that are refrigerated and contain house meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and dairy products. Also look for a broad range of colors with your produce. Bright yellow and red peppers, green and red apples, purple eggplant and deep green, leafy vegetables provide a wide range of different nutrients. Make your plate and your shopping cart a rainbow.
Branch out and expand your palate.
Most of us think butter and salt are the only ways to give something flavor. Try adding curry powder and turmeric to a chicken or beef stir fry for a new family favorite. These spices make a meal delicious and also contain natural anti-inflammatory properties. In Southwestern dishes, you can toss favorite vegetables with olive oil, Chili powder, cumin, pepper, and paprika, and roast in the oven or grill.
Eat and move!
Eating right and being physically active are the two best things you can do for your body. Weight loss must be approached by two methods: intake reduction and increasing calorie expenditure. To achieve weight-loss results, a person must improve the quality of the food they eat, eat a proper ratio of macronutrients, and eat fewer calories than their body is burning. It just makes sense to eat better and move more. Exercising after mealtime and having a protein-rich snack after a workout will teach your metabolism that it is OK to burn fat, and your metabolism will thank you.
This one may seem silly or obvious, but quitting is the biggest mistake dieters make. You don’t have to be perfect all the time, but when you make a mistake you must get back on program. The most important thing is to focus on making the best choice possible in each situation with the resources available to you.
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