Feeling great. Looking fit. Staying healthy. Could you be underestimating the power of the plate? Food trends may come and go. Black garlic ice cream, really? But today, we bring you the real deal — 9 evidence-backed dietary changes to help you be at your best.
Ready to get started? Inspiration and tips coming your way...
1. Embrace plant foods.
They’re certainly hug-worthy. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and other substances your body needs to help keep you healthy. And most are naturally low in calories — a big plus if you’re trying to keep your weight in check.
Game on: Get bonus points for variety. On your next grocery order or outing, add a new veggie or fruit to your cart. It’s me and you, passionfruit! Parsnip, I’ll be back for you soon.
2. Break up with overeating. Sorry, I’m kind of over you.
Are you in any of these unhealthy relationships: mindless munching, pumped-up portions or beverage calories galore? Recognizing the problem is a great first step. Next, look for ways to gradually break free of these no-good habits. Removes hand from giant chip bag.
Cheat the future: Metabolism may naturally lose some oomph over time. If you notice your weight creeping up, you can get ahead of this trend by slowing your calorie roll. You can also throw these not-so-secret weapons at it: aerobic exercise and strength training. Muscle actually burns more calories than fat, even at rest. Burn, baby, burn.
3. Have your takeout — and feel great too.
You know that feeling after you’ve had a particularly heavy or greasy meal? Ugh. Ordering lighter foods can be good for your mood, energy and health.
Hack the menu: For starters, think grilled or steamed vs. fried or creamy. And check the menu offerings online — some restaurants provide nutrition info for dishes, including fat and calories.
4. Give your heart an oil change.
Here’s a pretty simple one: When cooking, use a healthy vegetable oil, such as olive or canola. Done.
Fat chance: Look for opportunities to add other healthy fats to your meals and snacks. Put these on your fatty playlist: salmon, avocado, and unsalted almonds and walnuts.
5. Be picky about protein.
Choose lean proteins, such as skinless poultry, fish, eggs and lean cuts of meat. Vegan? You have good options too, including unsalted nuts, peanut butter, tofu and budget-friendly beans.
Hard times call for easy decisions: Hardening of arteries — or atherosclerosis — can actually get its start when we’re young. Along with lean proteins and healthy oils, go for low-fat dairy foods. OK, heart, a lighter latte? You got it.
6. Get in on whole-grain goodness.
Whole grains have a whole lot to offer when it comes to nutrients, including B vitamins and minerals. One big plus: They’re fiber-rich, which makes them good for your heart and digestion. They may even help with weight control. How? They stick with you — so you feel fuller longer.
Rack up points: See the Nutrition Facts on whole-grain products. Look for those that have at least 3 grams of fiber — that’s a good source. Eat more fiber. #goals.
7. Star in your own cooking show.
Healthy cooking can be fun and delicious. Plus you get to control the ingredients — and up your chef chops at the same time. Check out some easy online recipes to get started.
We go live at 5: How about convincing a friend to join you in the kitchen to make it even more fun? Streaming optional.
8. Calcium up, people.
Your younger years are the best time to build strong bones. And for that, you’ll need calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods. Low-fat dairy foods, leafy greens and fortified unsweetened cereals are all good sources.
Who knew? Fortified cereal + low-fat milk = happy bones. Here’s another quick calcium/vitamin D delivery system: A yogurt fruit smoothie with a little fresh spinach whirled in.
9. Answer the breakfast bell.
Do you skip it more often than not? If so, you’re missing out on seize-the-day brain and body fuel. If time is an issue, try setting your alarm a few minutes earlier.
Rather snooze? No prob! Pack something healthy the night before — so you can just grab and go.
Now fuel up — and get on with living.
It’s not about eating right all the time. No one’s perfect. If you enjoy healthy foods — and make good choices most of the time — that’s great. It’s good to be flexible too!
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Heart Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services