Diet Savvy Strategies

 Between “Dr. Google” and all the nutrition books available, it’s no wonder people are confused on how to get on track with healthier eating. Many clients tell me it seems the recommendations are always changing, and it makes for a lot of confusion on how to actually eat well. In reality, eating well is not difficult if you can remember some simple steps and strategies to get started. By following these eating strategies, it’s almost a guarantee that your diet will improve.

  • Add plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables to your diet all day and each day. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds that can lessen your risk for diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The more colorful your diet, the richer your diet is in anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Decrease your animal protein intake. Most people eat way too much animal protein. By decreasing your animal protein, you are decreasing your fat consumption which can be a good thing if you are trying to manage your weight.  Even if you are not trying to manage your weight, cutting down on animal protein will decrease saturated fat which can lessen inflammation. And your kidneys, they can benefit from a lower protein intake as well because they do not need to work so hard!
  • Limit your restaurant and carry out food.  I have never met a client that was able to lose weight and eat restaurant/carry out food on a daily basis. Consumer beware: most restaurant/carryout food is higher in sodium, calories, and fat than the counterpart item prepared at home. Check menus and nutrition information in advance of dining out. I had a client recently that ordered a so-called healthy salad at a chain restaurant thinking it was a good choice; unfortunately, the calories clocked in at 1400. It’s a good thing she expended a lot of calories that day!
  • Take advantage of convenience foods at the grocery store. I guarantee a Healthy Choice, Kashi, or even Lean Cuisine frozen dinner is going to stack up with less calories, sodium, and fat that your average carry out meal. Plus, it’s all portion controlled so if you are tired, you don’t need to think too much. Add a healthy beverage and a fruit/vegetable and your meal will be pretty nutritionally rounded.
  • Meals can be large snacks and you don’t NEED to cook.  Is it a problem to eat cereal for dinner? I don’t think so!  Have that cereal with milk or a milk alternative, some fresh fruit, an it’s a rather nutritionally adequate and satisfying easy meal. By choosing a higher fiber unsweetened cereal you have improved the quality of your meal dramatically. Not into cereal for dinner, then try a simple fruit smoothie made with some milk for another nutrient dense snack. Ever think of adding cottage cheese to the smoothie? It makes the smoothie taste like cheesecake!

Once you get used to these simple strategies, you will see how easy healthy eating can be!

What are your healthy eating strategies?

The Meatless “Revolution”: A Health Savvy Trend

I just heard the term “meatless revolution” coined on an evening news program.  Being a dietitian who is both professionally and personally a big fan of good nutrient dense carbohydrates-white potatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils, fruits, and vegetables- I am ecstatic to hear this is becoming a mainstream trend.  Apparently, US meat consumption has declined 30%, so my hope is this trend continues as it is good for our health and good for the planet.  Dietitians have been promoting this concept for decades.  The USDA plate reinforces this eating “revolution” as well.  So why should we cut down on meat consumption?  For dietitians, the answers are obvious:  this decreases total fat, saturated fat, and allows for calories to come from other food sources such has complex carbs which provide specific nutrients to the diet that would be lacking in a heavy meat diet.  Eating less meat is also a good way to decrease inflammation and cancer risk in some people.  Eating and growing more plant-based foods also consumes less energy and pollutes the environment less.  For every pound of bread made, one pound of grain is needed.  But for every pound of beef weight, eight pounds of grain are needed.  And, let’s not forget that cows pollute with poop.  It has to go somewhere, and often ends up contaminating our water and soil.

To embrace this so-called meatless revolution, start with:

  • Having a meatless meal a few times per week.  Try a lentil soup with whole grain bread or a vegetable topping pizza every Friday.
  • Making a conscious decision to decrease your animal protein servings to the size of a deck of cards; this is the portion size you should be eating, but many are eating 2-3 times that amount.
  • Substituting plant-based protein for meat options.  Try peanut butter in place of cold cuts on whole wheat bread for a hearty sandwich or lentils and beans in soups and stews to replace some of the meat the recipe calls for.

How do you downsize your meat?