It is a New Year and a lot of people have made resolutions to eat better and lose weight. There are countless diets one could follow and everywhere you turn someone has a suggestion on what to do to become healthier. In reality, as science becomes more involved in understanding obesity and weight, the more complex the whole subject becomes. People originally thought taking in fewer calories than you burned was all you needed for weight loss, but unfortunately it is now much more complex. However there are some simple rules that may improve your diet and health.
Diet Rules To Remember
1. Eat more plants – As your mother said, eat your vegetables, especially fresh vegetables. Add in more whole grains, fresh fruit, and beans. Maintain a variety of these items in your daily intake. All these plants have essential nutrients and many contain compounds that bolster the immune system, improve digestion, fill you due to fiber and contain healthier varieties of carbohydrates that foster less weight gain. From the wide variety of plants and vegetables available, there should be a number of things that are tasty to eat.
2. Don’t eat more calories than you need – If you fill full at a meal, stop eating, even if your plate is not empty. Wait a little time after you eat before deciding on a dessert, since it takes time for the signals from your stomach to get to the brain and to tell it you did eat enough. Along the same line, slow down your eating, this will also give the brain time to determine it has had enough nutrients. Drinking more fluids also gives the stomach a feeling of fullness and may decrease the need for more food. Lastly, track your weight on a weekly basis (daily monitoring is deceptive and can vary) and if it is trending up, decrease the food intake. Tracking your exercise also may be helpful, a fitness tracker will give you a baseline level, if you are not moving you will not burn the calories you take in.
3. Eat less junk – This is food that is full of empty calories with no nutritional value. Start easy by eliminating candy, cookies, and things like energy drinks, or sugary donuts, pastries or desserts. These foods all are high in calories and carbohydrates. Yes they give you a quick dose of energy, but they are all easily converted to fat in the body. An occasional reward is ok, but small amount is more beneficial. The one exception may be to have a small piece of dark chocolate, this actually does have health benefits.
4. Eat a variety of foods you enjoy – Look at your current diet and determine what foods are healthy, and what you enjoy. Increase the amount of food that is healthy such as fish, chicken, turkey, and lean meats as well as vegetables, fruits and grains. Lower the amount of refined carbohydrates like white rice and pastas. Control the total portion size you eat, but you do not have to rid yourself of anything bad. The most important thing is increase healthy food you like,
5. Learn to cook yourself – Prepared meals and restaurant food is often not the healthiest. Most commercially made meals have high sodium amounts, refined carbohydrates, high calories from fats, and are not particularly good besides the taste. Restaurant meals and fast food is often high in fat, carbohydrates, and calories with few nutrients for the portion size. Cooking at home teaches one to use fresh ingredients, and it is much easier to institute healthier choices. Choosing fruits and vegetables, small portions of whole grain carbohydrates, and leaner cuts of meat or fish becomes much easier. Taste of the food may also improve, and cooking can be extremely relaxing and a time to interact with others.
In the New Year take a step forward toward a healthier lifestyle. Make some changes in your life and enjoy the changes you see in yourself. If you keep everything the same, your life will be the same. If you make some changes toward a healthier lifestyle, eating better, and exercising, the results over time should be evident.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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