It is a myth that to follow healthy eating habits you have to compromise on taste. While there is no diet that is perfect for everyone, making informed food choices does all the magic. March is National Nutrition Month, and a perfect time to spring clean your diet and shed all the extra pounds that you may have added during winters.
So, let’s take a look at how you can embrace healthy food habits without compromising on your busy schedules.
For one and all: Make simple and healthy food choices
The trick is to include foods that contain loads of nutrition. Limit fats, but not completely avoid them as you do need a certain amount of fat in the food. Certain things are common for everyone, so let’s look at those first:
- Drink plenty of water, and avoid sugary sodas. If you want a change, have unsweetened fresh fruit juices (with pulp), coconut water, homemade soups, herbal teas, and so on. The occasional cup of coffee won’t do any harm – just don’t overload on caffeine.
- Consume grains, especially wholegrain products, as they provide energy quickly. Brown rice, whole wheat or multi-grain bread, pasta, oatmeal are some of the good sources.
- Protein-rich foods are essential for muscle repair and building. Lean or low-fat cuts of beef or pork, skinless chicken or turkey, seafood and plant-based foods like bean varieties, nuts, seeds, and soy products provide good amount of protein.
- Eat a variety of fruits and veggies. Different colored veggies and fruits have different nutritional elements, so make sure to include as many different color groups as you can. For example, eat red and yellow peppers, leafy greens like spinach and kale, oranges, yellow mangoes, avocados, orange carrots, purple eggplants, red tomatoes (rich in antioxidants), and different berries – strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, etc.
- Calcium is derived from dairy products. Make sure to include low fat milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir, and similar products in your daily meals to strengthen your bones.
- Fiber slows the absorption of carbs and can help regulate your blood sugar – whole grains, flax seeds and oatmeal are examples of fiber rich foods.
- Eat home cooked meals as often as you can, rather than eating outside food. This way, you can be absolutely sure of what you’re eating, how much oil is used, and so on. Eating home cooked food is fresh and way healthier. If you must eat out, choose restaurants that serve healthy food.
- Consume healthy fats: oily fish, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, etc., and limit saturated fats. Avoid foods with trans-fats. These include high fat cuts of beef and pork, burgers, pizza, and other fast food, packaged fried snacks, and so on.
- Limit processed foods, fried snacks, refined grains (white rice, refined flour bread and pasta, etc.) frozen dinners and so on – they are not so great as far as nutrition is concerned, and often contain preservatives, taste enhancers, and are high in sugar or sodium.
- Varying food choices is very important – mix it all up so that you get nutrition from all the groups: vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, fiber. It’s always better to get all your nutrition directly from food and not supplements, as it is absorbed better from food.
- Eat meals on time – don’t delay your meals, and definitely do not skip them. Eat every meal; reduce your portion sizes if required but eat thrice a day. Starving often leads to binge eating later. And as far as possible, eat with friends or family; eat in a relaxed manner and don’t rush through your meals.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Consume not more than 1 cup a day if you are a woman, and two cups a day if you’re a man.
If you’re a busy person who often eats on the go
Whether you’re a high flying executive or a busy mom, you may be getting very little time to have a relaxed meal on most days. You need foods that give you energy and can be prepared easily, or eaten as is.
Make sure to keep healthy foods with you, including:
- Canned tuna
- Peanut butter and wholegrain bread
- Low sodium soups
- Nuts and trail mixes
- Granola bars
- Boiled eggs
Athletes need a much higher calorie intake than non-athletic people as they work out a lot and burn more calories. Our dietician recommends these foods for active people:
- Low fat yoghurt
- Fresh fruit like banana
- Graham crackers and peanut butter
- Wholegrain cereal with low fat milk
- Lean meats
- Beans and legumes
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli
Students need to keep their energy levels up to the mark to study long hours, understand complex scientific concepts, perform mathematical calculations and remember historic facts, and so on. The brain needs fuel to be able to function properly. It is very important for students to eat a good breakfast so that they can study through the day. If you have to choose from your cafeteria, go for healthy options like:
- Baked chicken or fish
- Fruits like blueberry
- Baked sweet potatoes
- Limit salty snacks and sweetened drinks
- Milk and yogurt
- Walnuts and almonds
Tips for Parents for Preparing Healthy Meals and Snacks for Kids
Kids spend a lot of energy and need to eat food that will give them the requisite calories; they also need the proper amount of nutrition to help them grow and develop in a healthy manner. It is impossible to get kids to eat healthy all the time, but keep trying with:
- Toasted wholegrain waffle topped with low fat yogurt, peanut butter or fresh fruit
- Hummus on whole wheat tortilla
- Whole grain pita pocket stuffed with ricotta cheese, apple slices and a dash of cinnamon
- Tomato soup with crackers
- Mini sandwich or cut-out sandwich, with tuna, tomato, cheese, or egg
- Toasted whole wheat English muffin, topped with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and olives
- Low fat yogurt with fruit and cereal in layers
- Sprinkle shredded cheese on corn tortillas, fold and toast or top with salsa.
Vegetarians and Vegans
Vegetarians left with limited protein food choices, so you need to choose foods that provide good amount of protein and other nutritional elements found in animal foods. So choose
- Peas, lentils, legumes, for proteins
- Avocadoes, peanut butter, coconut or olive oil for healthy fats
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, hemp, pecans, flax, chia, quinoa, etc.)
- Sprouted beans
- Calcium fortified dairy
- Nut butters
- Nutritional yeast
As you age, your physical activity levels reduce but you still need nutritional food to maintain your bones, muscles and tissue.
- We recommend 50% of your food to be made of fresh fruit and veggies
- 50% of your grains should ideally be whole grains
- Switch to low fat dairy
- Reduce sodium intake
- Vary protein foods like eggs, lean meats, seafood, nuts etc.
- Stick to recommended portion sizes
- Stay hydrated, even if it means more trips to the bathroom
Eat Healthy with EPIC Health’s Nutritional Counseling Program
Even if you know what foods are good for you, you may still not be sure how exactly to include them in your diet, how to mix up the food groups to break monotony, and how to prepare or cook certain foods. It is also not easy for a layperson to determine portion sizes, create meal plans, count calories, and so on.
What’s more, a person living with chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or hypertension needs to take extra care as far as diet is concerned.
At EPIC Health, we understand how important it is for you to eat right so that you achieve and maintain your optimal weight and enjoy best possible health for long time. Our registered dietician works with individuals and creates customized meal plans, meticulous to the last detail, to suit individual tastes, preferences, and health conditions. Our team based approach means that our physician will first examine you to determine if you have any health issues that may warrant changing your diet plans.
Our certified dietician will help you understand the importance of eating right, and help you with recipes, portion sizes and a whole lot more.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your Nutrition Counseling and take the first towards a healthier you.