Dried fruits often contain added sugar and oils making them more like candy than a nutritious snack. Seek out unsweetened varieties or make your own with a kitchen dehydrator. Freeze-dried fruit is another option. Most are made without added sugar and they can satisfy a crunchy food craving.
Buying granola at the store requires a close look at the nutrition label. While it may contain fiber-rich ingredients like oatmeal, a small serving can also be loaded with calories, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium. Try making granola at home. You can control the added sugar and oils, and improve the nutrition. (Try this easy Apple, Banana, and Peanut Butter Granola.)
Soups have long been a light lunch staple. They can be filled with nutritious ingredients like beans, vegetables, and lean meats. Unfortunately, they can also be loaded with sodium. Some canned versions contain as much as 700 milligrams per serving. Keep your soup healthy and make a large pot at home on the weekend to eat throughout the week. Use unsalted ingredients and add salt, herbs and spices to your desired taste. This can reduce the sodium content for a healthier meal. (Try this Spicy Basil Lemon Gazpacho.)
Nutritious salads can easily be ruined by toppings and dressings. While a sprinkle of cheese or nuts can enhance the flavor of greens, a heavy-handed addition of meats, dried fruits, salted nuts and seeds, croutons and cheese can send the calories, fat, and sodium soaring. Focus on the greens and add a variety, such as romaine, arugula, spinach, and baby kale. Add on vegetable toppers like broccoli, bell peppers, and red onions with a small amount of meat or cheese. A dressing with heart-healthy olive oil will help you absorb vitamins from the vegetables. Combine it with flavored vinegar to add plenty of flavor without saturated fat and excess sodium. (Try this Mixed Green Salad with Cranberry Dressing.)
Sandwiches and Wraps
These lunchtime favorites often contain loads of deli meats, cheeses and dressings that are surround by thick slices of bread or extra large wraps. It’s no surprise some can have as many calories and as much fat and sodium as a burger. For a healthier option, go easy on the meat and cheese and load up with vegetable toppings. Choose mustard or yogurt based condiments over mayonnaise and cream-based sauces. (Try these Chicken Wraps with Creamy Olive Dressing.)
Fruit is a great addition to yogurt, but not when it contains added syrups and artificial flavors. Sweetened, fruit-flavored yogurts can be loaded with added sugars. Buy natural, plain yogurt and add fresh fruit and honey or all-fruit jam for a treat that is more of a healthy snack and less of a high-sugar dessert.
Whether it’s groceries or a goal weight, putting it down on paper helps you stay focused. Lists serve as guides and reminders, and they can be effective tools to help you reach your fitness goals.
Menus to map out your week
A weekly menu is one type of list that will help you stick to healthy eating. Planning your meals for the week keeps you on track and helps you identify gaps in nutrition. This gives you a chance to revise your plan so you don’t end your week with too few vegetables or too much added sugar.
Shop for healthy foods
If you go to the supermarket without a well thought out list, you may leave with a cart full of unhealthy foods meant to satisfy a short-term craving. Create a list of the foods you need to make healthy meals throughout the week. Take the list with you and stick to it at the store. With a kitchen full of nutritious foods, you will be prepared to eat better and resist tempting, high-calorie treats.
Make exercise a priority
When you put your to-do list in writing, those tasks become a priority. Whether you jot down a 5-minute break to walk the stairs or block out 30 minutes to go for a run, write down your workouts on the same list you use to record errands and tasks.
Work with your schedule
A to-do list is a revealing indicator of your eating and exercise patterns for the week. As you make a list of tasks for the week, complement it with a list of where and what you plan to eat and when you will workout. You will be prepared to pack a healthy lunch on the day with back-to-back meetings, and you can plan to wake up early for exercise when you have a nighttime obligation.
Visualize your goals
What would you like to accomplish in one month? What about in six? Goals like losing inches or running more miles are accomplishments you build up to. You go down one pant size and then two, and you run two miles before you can run six. Writing down your short term goals helps you visualize your long term goals. Making a list of what you want to accomplish is the first step in creating a plan to get there.
The vitamin C in citrus fruits acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from free radical damage. Vitamin C also improves the absorption of non-heme iron (iron from plant foods like beans and nuts). Citrus fruits supply the B vitamin, folate, which plays a role in energy production, growth and development, and may help protect against heart disease. These fruits are also a source of potassium, which is important for muscle function, and fluid and electrolyte balance.
Citrus flavanones have been linked to a reduced risk of stroke in women and a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. Liminoids in citrus fruits have been found to inhibit tumor growth. More research is needed to understand how these phytonutrients work to improve health and protect against disease. Many are found in the peel and inner white portions of the fruit, so eating whole fruits and using zest and peels as flavorings for cooking will help you get the most benefit.
Super easy snack.
There are few foods easier to grab on the go than a piece of citrus fruit. Oranges, mandarins, tangerines, and many cross-varieties are easy to pack, peel, and section for a snack. Peeling also slows you down and contributes to more mindful eating. Just remember that some citrus, such as grapefruit, can interact with prescription medications. Be sure to check with your doctor if you take medications, especially those to fight infections or treat high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or heart conditions.
Not only is citrus delicious by itself, but the whole fruit can be used in many meals and snacks. Homemade juices are more refreshing with fresh oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and lime. Fruit sections can be blended into smoothies. Lean meats and roasted vegetables are delicious with a splash of fresh juice and citrus zest. Dry the peels of oranges, lemons, or tangerines and add it to loose leaf tea before steeping.
Unlike many fruits that spoil quickly, citrus fruits have a long storage life so you can stock up when they are on sale and enjoy them throughout the season. When refrigerated, oranges and mandarins stay fresh about two weeks, lemons keep for four weeks or more, and grapefruits and limes keep even longer, often five to six weeks.
Healthy eating isn’t hard, but it does take commitment. Don’t let these common myths get between you and a healthier lifestyle.
Eating healthy foods is expensive.
Many people believe nutritious foods are more expensive, and they are, according to a recent study. But healthy eating is likely not as expensive as you think. A research review conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that when healthy foods are compared to unhealthy foods, the healthiest diets cost just $1.50 more per day. That’s about the cost of a cup of coffee, hardly the barrier it is perceived to be by many people.
Healthy foods take too much time to prepare.
You can have many healthy meals prepared in the time it takes you to wait in the drive thru line or for take out to be delivered. Sauteed greens are ready in 5 minutes, fish can be broiled in 15 minutes, and even a quick soup is ready in under 30 minutes. With 10 minutes added for prep and cleanup, you are still spending only a small amount of time in the kitchen in return for big health benefits.
Healthy food doesn’t taste good.
It’s understandable that healthy food got the reputation for bad taste. Throughout the years, popular diets restricting fat and whole food groups have taken the flavor right out of healthy eating. Now many fats are recognized for their health benefits and many seasonings can be found without excess salt. Natural sugars provide a touch of sweetness without going overboard and seasonal foods are more accessible. All of this leads to flavorful meals. Include a variety of fresh, natural foods and you will find that healthy eating has never tasted better.