Rather than thinking about what you shouldn’t eat, take a fresh look at DIET. “Shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” create guilt and contribute to unnecessary frustration when trying to eat healthier and/or lose weight.
Rather than focus on that, why not look at improving your enjoyment of food by choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables. The more variety, the more colorful, generally the more nutrition. For example, bananas are high in potassium and B vitamins, dark green leafy veggies are high in folic acid, citrus, peppers and kiwi are great sources of vitamin C, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage may reduce your risk for certain cancers; yellow, orange & red fruits and veggies are usually high in carotenoids that protect your eyes and cells. Berries tend to be lower in sugar than most fruits and also are powerful antioxidants. Be open to trying new snacks, recipes and meals with plenty of fruits and veggies to achieve incremental enhancements to your nutrition. I have a couple of recipes containing berries on the resources page of my web site.
Take your focus away from calories, fat and/or carbs and set a daily goal to add at least one more fruit or vegetable in you daily diet each week until you hit somewhere between 5-9 servings per day. A serving is approximately 1/2 cup cooked, 1 cup raw or a medium to small piece of whole fruit. Sounds like a lot? It may at first, as the average American eats only 2.3 servings of produce per day. So if you are currently eating just 2 servings, set a goal to eat 3 tomorrow. But first, you have to get prepared to meet that goal! That may require thinking about what you like, what you’re willing to try, any resources you may need, e.g., sales circular from local stores, recipes, etc. Most importantly, you will need to plan for and take the time to get to the market. You can’t eat it if you don’t have it!
With that last thought in mind, you will be far more likely to reach for a piece of fruit or can of V-8, if it’s in you fridge or your lunch pack. You’re far less likely to choose some salty, sugary, fat-laden junk food if you clean out your refrigerator and cupboards now. Donate or toss the foods that are not helping you achieve your health and weight loss goals.
Here are some ways to increase your fruit and veggie intake:
- At breakfast, add veggies to your scrambled eggs or omelet. I make up mini crust-less quiches using my muffin tins. This way I’ll have a ready-made breakfast several days in a row. I freeze the rest for the following week, for food safety reasons and also to prevent boredom from eating the same thing day-in and day-out. Here’s an idea for a Greek mini quiches: to your egg/FF milk mixture, add sauteed spinach, chopped & drained tomatoes, diced green onions, sliced black olives, and low-fat or fat-free Feta cheese.
- Pack a lunch and snacks to have on hand during work. I usually bring washed, trimmed berries in a re-usable container, some cut-up veggies, such as carrots, mushrooms, peeled and julienned jicama, cucumber slices and/or cherry tomatoes, a Mini Bell low-fat cheese, a low-sodium V-8 a stainless and and a square of dark chocolate or oz of unsalted nuts to snack on during the day. You can even set these up and place in the front of the fridge to keep on track when you are at home all day.
Instead of some gooey desert, for a quick and easy after dinner treat, dip a large strawberry in melted dark chocolate and pop in the refrigerator to harden. Serve with a glass on red wine or herbal tea for a relaxing satisfying end to your meal. Be present in the moment and savor the flavors, textures and sensations.
Next step, go brush your teeth; you’re done eating for the evening. Tomorrow you’ll wake up feeling healthy, refreshed, energized and ready to set your daily goal!