Implementing a healthy lifestyle and losing weight isn’t as difficult or restrictive as many people think, and the results are well worth any modifications you have to make. By eating the proper nutrients and engaging in physical activity, you’ll boost your energy, look and feel better, and improve your overall health and wellness. Here are some guidelines for achieving better health through nutrition:
- Eat a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods. Strive for a balanced diet that includes lots of lean protein and complex carbs such as fruits and vegetables. Choose antioxidant-rich foods and those with moderate amounts of healthy fats, such as Omega-3 packed fish and nuts. Make sure to eat lots of color when it comes to fruits and veggies; you’ll want to consume everything from green, red and brown to orange and yellow. Research shows that the antioxidants these foods contain can help protect you against certain types of cancer and chronic illnesses. If you’re focusing on weight loss management, you may want to seek assistance with planning a diet that is tailored to your lifestyle.
- Increase your fiber intake. To lose weight and be healthy for life, make sure your diet includes lots of soluble fiber, which is present in foods like steel cut oats, legumes, vegetables, fruits and berries. The fiber will fill you up and stave off hunger, while lowering your “bad” cholesterol levels. Foods packed with fiber provide important vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, and help to slow the absorption of carbs so you don’t experience those nasty blood sugar spikes.
- Cut down on unhealthy fats. Whenever you can, choose an unsaturated fat instead of saturated or trans fats, which causes “bad” blood cholesterol levels to rise. This means reducing your intake of animal fats, as they are loaded with saturated fat; instead, choose lean meats, skinless poultry, and if you consume dairy, opt for nonfat or low-fat products. Also cut down on trans fats, which are present in foods that contain hydrogenated vegetable oils. In general, this means avoiding all foods that are fried or processed, such as fast food, baked goods, crackers, potato chips and other snack foods. When you’re cooking, substitute when possible with monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil. Keep in mind, however, that unsaturated fats are still fattening—if you’re working on losing weight and achieving better health through nutrition, you’ll need to eat them in careful moderation.
- Limit sugar. Sugar and refined-grains are our worst enemies when it comes to weight loss management. They cause our blood insulin levels to spike and begin an ugly cycle of sugar rushes and crashes that ultimately lead to weight gain.
- A diet that’s healthy for life requires portion control. American serving sizes are huge in comparison to other, less obese countries, so strive for moderate portions, especially when it comes to high calorie foods. Use smaller plates and weigh your servings so that you can get a better feel for appropriate portion size, or at you next visit to a nutrition center, ask to see some examples. When you eat out, choose an appetizer and small salad instead of an entrée or split the main dish with a friend.
- Strive to maintain a balance between calorie intake and output so that you can maintain your desired weight. While a nutrition center can help guide your diet and meal plan, it’s also up to you to exercise regularly to ensure calorie expenditure and optimize your health.