When starting a nutrition program it can be confusing and overwhelming. There is a lot of nutrition information available, but it seems to head in different directions. Many programs start by telling you to throw everything away, or stay away from whole food groups, but never break things down simply.
Here's a basic tips list to help you get started.
1. Shop the perimeter of the store.
This is where the freshest, nutirent dense, low preservative foods are. Obviously, dry goods are inside the aisles, but most things in the aisles are high in fats, preservatives, and sugars. You'll find dried beans and rices in this area, but you can leave many of the other items on the shelves.
2. Size does matter
Plates, cups and serving utensil sizes matter when it comes to portions. For example; use a serving spoon when dishing out foods; not a cooking utensil. There's a huge size difference between the two, and the larger the utensil, the larger the portion. Plates and drink tumblers can add extra servings due to their sizes. Opt for smaller glasses and plates to control portion sizes, as well.
3. Watch your carbohydrates
Your body needs carbohydrates, but anything in excess can have a negative affect. There's nothing wrong with eating some mashed potatoes, but that third plate isn't necessary.
4. Don't douse your salad in dressing.
Dip your fork into your dressing instead of pouring it on foods. You'll never empty a two ounce ramekin by eating dressing this way.
5. Reduce alcoholic beverages to lose weight.
When you drink alcohol your body burns acetate, a byproduct of alcohol, before burning fat. This is not to say you can't have a drink, but too much is obviously counterproductive.
6. How much fat are you really eating?
You need fats in your diet, but opt for healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados and etc.) in moderate amounts. For instance, 1oz. of nuts are fine, but 5oz. will kill your daily fat intake.
7. Have some coffee if you like it.
Have some coffee before you workout. The caffeine will give you a perk.
8. Watch juices with a careful eye.
Some juice has even more sugar than soda. A single serving is only 8oz., not a tumbler.
9. Do not finish your children's plates.
This is a downfall of many moms. We hate to waste food so we eat everything left on our children's plates, and it doesn't matter how many kid's plates are on the table. However, this adds hundreds of extra calories to your daily caloric intake.
10. Drink more water.
Start by drinking water before, during or after every meal. It will make you feel fuller, longer. It doesn't mean you have to guzzle a bottle each time, but three or four gulps can make a difference.
Click here: How to drink more water.
11. Step away from the fried foods.
If you have to have fried foods decide to have one fried item with a vegetable. For example; don't have fries if you want a fried chicken sandwich. Have a side salad or fruit with it. Be sparing on the dressing in this case. See tip #4.
12. Add new flavors to your palette.
It's easy to get in a rut with foods. People are creatures of habit and will stick to foods that are easy and convenient to prepare. Don't fall into that trap. You may not like every thing you try, but it will certainly diversify the foods on your plate.
13. Eat fruit.
Not too long ago I overheard a personal trainer tell his client not to eat an apple because of the sugars. Don't be that guy. Eat fruit. If you're interested in low glycemic fruits take note of what the ADA recommends.
Every healthy eater has carbohydrate staples, but some have favorites that never lose popularity. Depending on a competitor's preference, the chosen carbohydrate is based on lower glycemic values, or its texture. For some, the nutrient rich sweet potato is the only way to go. It is high in antioxidants, iron, calcium and anti-inflammatory properties, and offers a sweet taste to other bland carbohydrates. The skin also adds to the texture and contains much of the nutrients and fiber.
Sweet potatoes are simple to prepare, but some methods are better than others. Sautéing is tricky, due to the oil content needed, while frying is a flat out no-no for some healthy eaters.
Steaming your spud
Place water in your steamer and put whole or largely diced sweet potatoes in the basket. Depending on the size, this can take up to 45 minutes or longer. If you do not have a steamer, use a metal colander and large pot. Place the colander in the pot with the handles hanging over the edge. This will hold the colander above the water so the potatoes can steam. Put the spuds in the colander, and use a lid to prevent the heat from escaping.
Oven steam your spud
What if you don't have a pot or a steamer? You can still get the same effect directly from the oven. In a shallow baking dish, add a half-inch of water, and place your clean, potatoes in the baking dish. Cover it with aluminum foil or lid.
Boil your tuber
Place your clean potatoes in a pot of boiling water. There should be enough water to cover the sweet potatoes. Boil until it's slightly soft, and remove from the water. Let it cool before removing the peel.
Throw it in the oven
Bake your sweet potatoes at 400 degrees until they are slightly soft. Sweet potatoes will ooze sweet, sticky syrup so line your pan with foil, or wrap your sweet potatoes individually. Do not place them on the rack without a pan underneath. The syrup will leak, and cause the oven to smoke with the possibility of catching on fire.
Get the grill out
Grilling your sweet potato is another way to cook your spud. Grill your sweet potatoes at the same time as your protein to save time in the long run. After you've turned your grill on place aluminum wrapped potatoes on the outer edges, or top tray, of the grill. Put them on before your meat because they will take longer to cook. T
The sweet potato can char if you place them over direct heat. Turn them over once or twice for even cooking.
*Lightly coat your potato with olive oil and salt if you prefer not to use aluminum.
Quick fix with the microwave
Microwaves commonly have settings for potatoes, which makes the cooking time less complicated. Different size potatoes will need less or more time, but here is a guideline to follow:
North Carolina Sweet Potatoes
Leslie Beck, RD
I gave up on the Paleo Diet before starting it. It's viewed as "closed minded" by some of my coworkers and clients, but there are aspects of the diet I don't see beneficial to me. I try to eat whole foods, but the cost and restrictive nature of the diet is a turn off.
Read more on Yahoo! Voices.
I posted this photo on Twitter yesterday, and had several inquiries. What is it, and what's the recipe? It's taco meat over black rice with fresh pico de gallo. It is so easy to make, and very tasty.
How to cook black rice
Measure your rice, add water, swish it around the pot, and roll the grains between your fingers. Rinse. Do this several times. The water will be dark purple.
If you've never made rice (not instant) on the stove top before, once it's rinsed, put fresh water in the pot; covering the rice. Stick your finger in the water. The distance from the rice to the top of the water should be at least up to the first knuckle. Cook the black rice on the stove top on low to low-medium heat.
Cooking time varies so keep an eye on your rice. On the stove top it takes 25 to 30 minutes. My rice pot, a Zojirushi, cooks rice in 40 minutes.
Use quinoa, brown, red or yellow rice if you'd prefer. I love white rice, but not for this dish.
Pico de gallo recipe
1 Bunch celantro
1 Large onion
8 plum tomatoes
Garlic fresh or powder to taste
Black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
2 or 3 limes to taste
As you see, I make pico de gallo on a large scale. My kids and I absolutely love it, so I make enough to get us through any leftover tacos. Even with this amount it is eaten by night's end. Nonetheless, reduce the amounts if you don't need as much.
Begin the pico de gallo as soon as you start the rice. Stripping the cilantro leaves takes time, and you don't want a bowl full of stems. Coarsely chop the cilantro once the leaves are stripped. Chop the onions and tomatoes.
Press the limes against the counter and roll them. This helps release the juice from the membranes. Cut the lime in half and use a lime press for the juice. Toss tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. Add juice, garlic, black pepper, and salt to taste.
Ground beef, ground turkey or shredded pork
2 lb. ground beef
One pack taco seasoning
1 cup of water
Once again, cut the beef in half if you don't need as much. Brown your beef. Add water and seasoning. Use the shredded pork or ground turkey if you'd rather.
Make your plate
Once everything is cooked add it to the plate. Start with the rice and beef. Add shredded cheese to taste. I used cheddar cheese, but use what you like or what's on hand. Top with pico de gallo.
Let me begin: I did not weigh the portions of the baked spaghetti squash bowl recipe. The link for the spaghetti squash nutritional data is below. Read your pasta sauce labels if you're use jarred or canned sauce.
Several years ago, I reduced the amount of pasta I eat because of gluten, and because I can't eat a single serving. Although tons of products are gluten free I still prefer to minimize certain grains.
Anyhow, I tried spaghetti squash a few years ago, but I didn't care for it. It had a much better consistency, and texture than I imagined, but I found it very boring.
However, things change, and I decided to give spaghetti squash another shot with some left over meat sauce. I purchased a small to medium spaghetti squash from my local H-Mart. It was just under $7, and made a nice meal out of it.
Spaghetti squash nutritional data
Make and bake your spaghetti squash bowl instructions
I probably should have wiped off the outside of the squash, but now that I think of it, I know I didn't. However, it didn't kill me so I'll just go with the flow.
Hot! Caliente! Chaud!
I can not express this enough, but this bad boy is HOT! when it comes out of the oven. Remove the baking pan carefully, and place the squash bowl on a plate.
Use a fork to separate the "spaghetti" from the rind. It should be tender, but still hold together well. Be careful not to splash yourself with the sauce when pulling it apart.
If you don't eat pasta sauce try topping your spaghetti squash bowl with roasted tomatoes.
The hours we keep can be a downfall to staying nutritionally on track. One of the fastest ways to get derailed is skipping meals and getting overly hungry from the long hours we spend at work.
We've all been there. Too much time passed and now you're ready to eat anything that comes your way. However, missing meals during the day can lead to destructive eating behaviors in the evening.
Fast food restaurants may become a regularity after work because you're too hungry to cook a meal. Even if you make it home you find yourself eating poor food choices, and possibly more than you would usually eat.
However, minimize this eating habit by keeping a cooler in your car. This is not the same lunch bag you use during the day. It's a separate, smaller cooler specifically for your car, to be refilled frequently with non-perishable foods.
Why non-perishable? Although fruits, veggies, yogurts and meats are convenient and healthy snacks, if you leave your cooler in the car on a hot day these foods will rot. You certainly won't be able to eat it, and it will make your car smell horrible--written from experience. Instead, opt for foods to satisfy your hunger long enough to get a healthy meal option.
Water, an essential nutrient, and can stave off hunger for a short period of time if needed. Carry several bottles of water in your car cooler for hunger, or dehydration.
You'll also use it to mix protein powder; which is in your car cooler also.
Carry a snack bag, or two, with protein powder in it. Each bag should contain one serving size of protein. This is anywhere between one scoop and three depending on the type of powder you use.
Then, stuff the baggies into the shaker bottle. There are many types of shaker bottles to buy, but you can also use coffee mugs with a snap lid. 7-Eleven carries them for $1.99 and they make great shaker cups.
There are also shaker cups with separations so that you can carry an extra serving of protein. Many of these shaker bottles are longer, and may take up too much space in your car cooler.
Protein bars and snack bars
Although you don't want bars to replace all your meals; some food is better than no food. Keep several protein, or snack bars in your car cooler for moments when stuck in traffic, or when you need a quick pick-me-up driving through town.
Remember, I'm not talking bout a Snickers bar. Though I love them; it's not what I mean.
Dried fruit has high sugar content, but a single serving won't kill you. It's a good replacement to nip your sweet tooth.
Place single servings into snack bags, or purchase single serving pre-packaged bags to keep in your car cooler.
Seeds and nuts
Big benefits come from seeds and nuts. Seeds and nuts contain healthy fats, and a substantial amount of protein as well as make you feel full. A serving of these with water will get you to your next meal.
I have a bag of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, as well as roasted soy nuts in my cooler. Peanuts and almonds do not sit well with my stomach, but if nuts don't bother you, keep a nut butter in your cooler, too.
Take along nut butters, but don't forget a utensil
Nut butters travel well, and make a healthy snack. It is high in fat and protein, but offers a different consistency to the "whole" nut. It can be eaten alone or paired with a serving of pretzels, or with a protein drink.
Don't forget the utensils though, or you'll look like a Neanderthal eating with your fingers.
Pretzels are easy to carry, and offer few calories when eating in single serving sizes. For example, Classic Pretzel Crisps are baked, and extremely crunchy for a real "snacky" feel. The serving size is 11 crackers with 110 calories. Combine these with one tablespoon of peanut butter (1/2 the serving size) and you have a 210 calorie snack.
What's your favorite hold you over snack?
Everyone has their own ideas on healthy snack foods. If you have one that will last a few days or even a week in your car; throw it in. However, if you're allergic to it; don't eat it. Also, this is to help you get from point A-to-B without stalling out, and not meant to replace your regular meals.
I eat a lot of eggs. A lot. And, I mean the entire egg. I usually eat six a day, but if I eat more I cut back on some of the yolks.
However, I bake my eggs. It's simple, and tasty when right of the stove. They're okay cold, too. However, even if they are just "okay" cold, they pack easily and I can take them to work. They also do well when traveling for bodybuilding shows.
I started doing this because I don't have time in the morning to cook fresh eggs before work. Instead, I cook a dozen at a time in a medium muffin sized pan, and place them in the refrigerator after they've cooled for storing.
Although I don't eat many grains due to food allergies I love roasted tomatoes over quinoa. The sweet, tangy flavor of the tomatoes are brought out from roasting, and works great as a side dish even without quinoa.
Normally I make this dish with grape tomatoes, but these are beefsteak tomatoes from Costco. The measurements are not exact since I go by taste. Please remember, these measurements are enough for a family, or for someone who doesn't mind eating left overs.
Ingredients for Roasted Tomatoes
Roasted Tomato Instructions
MacroNutrients from Fitday.com
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Cereal is the tasty food found in almost any household, and every major grocery chain. It lines the shelves from top to bottom, and in some stores, it covers shelving for an entire side of an aisle.
It's main selling point is that it's quick, easy and healthy- or so the box and manufacturers say. Yes, it's true that cereal is quick and easy, but is it really healthy? Particularly when eaten in large quantities?
If you look at cereal for health benefits such getting your daily dose of healthy grains, you may be getting what you want; however, when it comes to portion size; cereal can sabotage any nutrition plan.
How is that?