We are all busy! My new clients all seem to feel like there is no time to “cook”, they eat on the run, and the end result is a poor diet that will eventually impact health and weight. Through my three decades of counseling clients, I have seen the American diet deteriorate to new lows. If you would like to improve your diet by this evening and your health down the road, try these seven easy tactics to shape up your diet by TONIGHT!
- Eat breakfast. By starting the day with healthy fuel, you are more likely to get all your required nutrients for the day. If trying to lose weight, you will use these calories efficiently, and not store as fat. You can keep it super simple-a serving of fruit, slice of toast, along with juice or milk.
- Add fruits and vegetables to your day every day and ALL day. Most Americans eat far less than the recommended 5 servings a day. By adding fruits and veggies to your diet, you are adding compounds to your diet that decrease inflammation. Decreasing inflammation can decrease your risk of disease. Start to tackle this by making sure you eat a serving of fruit and vegetables with every meal and snack and voila, mission accomplished!
- Drastically decrease animal protein consumption. Why? Animal protein is not just protein; it is also a significant amount of saturated fat. By eating less animal protein, you will decrease your intake of fat, particularly saturated fat which is artery clogging and increases inflammation.
- Avoid the fast food-restaurant trap.Dining out constantly is a sure-fire way to ruin your diet unless you constantly order salads with low fat dressing and fruit platters. Most restaurant food is much higher in sodium, calories, and fat than the counterpart made or assembled at home.
- Don’t be afraid of some convenience foods in the grocery store. I can almost guarantee that if you eat some brands of frozen dinner such as Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine, you will for the most part be better off than going to the local fast food chain or diner. Why? The meals are portion controlled; you know what you are eating because you can see a Nutrition Fact Label. We have been brainwashed to think that these meals have too many chemicals, etc. There are many nutritional advantages to these items as a back up to a chaotic schedule that necessitates relying on dining out to get your meals consumed. And, it is cheaper.
- Meals can be large snacks that do not require cooking! Throughout the years, clients have hesitantly told me that they would eat cereal for dinner because they are too tired to cook. I think those same clients expect me to say “how awful”, when I actually tell them this is not a problem. A bowl of cereal along with skim milk or milk alternative and a nice serving of fruit is actually a nice low-calorie and low-fat meal providing protein and carbohydrates in reasonable quantities. You can also just serve yourself a smoothie made with frozen fruit and throw in some yogurt or cottage cheese to bump up the protein content.
- Track your food. Better yet, track your diet with a good app like MyFitnessPal. It will allow you instant analysis of what you are eating, and more importantly, makes you face the music. ALL my clients that have been tracking their food with this app are eating better and losing weight if that was the objective. This app is free.
Do you have other easy and practical tips to keep your diet healthy?