Learn how to improve your diet and lose weight by ditching these Four Foods.
“Everything in moderation” has long been many people’s eating motto. As a health and fitness professional, I know small treats often help people stick to an overall healthy eating style, and over the years this philosophy has always worked well for many of my clients. Until recently. For whatever reason (I’m blaming stress), for some of my clients, their “moderate” treats, lately, have morphed into… more. Example: They will dish out a half cup of ice cream, then decide they need another quarter cup. Ten minutes later, they revisit the freezer for just one more spoonful, which turns into another and another… (Small treats should not be daily either! It’s a “treat” which to me means once in a while, like once a week.)
As you steam into summer I think it’s an excellent time of year to give your taste buds a much needed reboot, so decided to “spring-clean” your diet. Start by taking small steps. Try this: For one week, ditch refined grains and foods with added sugars, (eating them seems to lead to eating more of them.) While you are at it, also scale back on your intake of salt and saturated fats.
Why…? How…? Let me explain………
Adieu, added sugars.
Why? As nutrition editor Brierley Wright has reported, high intakes of added sugars are linked with risk factors for heart disease, including increased risks for high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels. And, like I said, lately, for me, eating sweetened foods seems to be linked with craving more sweet foods. How? I’m ditching my daily “moderate” treats, which include things like a handful of chocolate candies, a cookie (even if it does have healthy ingredients like oats and raisins) and low-fat peanut butter ice cream. I’m also giving up the hazelnut syrup in the decaf lattes, maple syrup in my oatmeal and honey in my tea. If I’d like something sweet, I’ll reach for fruit; if it needs to feel special, I’ll make a dessert that’s naturally sweet.
Out with you… refined grains.
Why? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we get at least half of our grains from whole grains. Processed grains are stripped of many key nutrients, including fiber. Plus, upping your whole-grains intake could lengthen your life by reducing your risk of cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases, suggests an Archives of Internal Medicine study published earlier this year. Sounds good to me. How? I’ll make simple swaps, like opting for whole-wheat pasta instead of regular, whole-grain bread instead of white and brown rice instead of white rice. I’ll cook more grains like quinoa, wheat berries and barley.
Sayonara, sodium (or least some of it).
Why? I get too much sodium. And so do you, probably: Americans, on average, eat 3,400 milligrams of sodium in a day, about 1,000 mg more than we should. And if we cut that much out of our daily diets, we’d lower our risk of heart disease by up to 9 percent, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. How? I’ll go easier on the soy sauce, even if I do use the low-sodium kind. In fact, I think I’ll actually measure out 1 tablespoon to put on the rice bowls I often make for lunch. I’ll skip all packaged snacks. I’ll cook dried beans in my slow cooker instead of popping open cans—which contain significant amounts of added sodium. And, most important, I’ll eat loads of fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in sodium.
So long, saturated fats.
Why? Most experts agree that saturated fats raise levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the blood, which can damage the heart and arteries. How? I’ll give up cheese. (Remember, this is just for a week!) It is, by far, the biggest source of saturated fat in my diet, since I don’t eat much butter or meat or many fried foods and I drink low-fat milk. I’ll use healthy fats in place of cheese (avocado in my burritos and almond butter on my toast) to help keep me satisfied.
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