L ast weekend, I had an interesting question during one of my webinars. One of the participants was asking about cutting out certain types of fruit as a potential way to lose weight.
Most fruit ranges between 50 and 80 calories per cup, and delivers a lot of good things that you don’t get from just plain sugar alone – like vitamin C, A, and fiber, and certainly a cup to two cups daily is a must-have on any healthy eating plan. It started me thinking about the Do’s and Don’ts for healthy eating and revamping bad eating habits.
So here are some no-nonsense basics or commandments that should stick with any truly healthy eater. Have anything to add or comment on? Add it in the comment section below…
Thou shalt abandon fast food – you know what I’m saying, the kind of place that comes with a drive-through window. Cutting out fast food and highly processed food is the best thing you can do for your body, your mental state, and for the planet. Fast food is cheap because it’s made with low quality ingredients plus its “fortified” with the bad stuff like trans-fat, saturated fat, lots of salt, plenty of sugar, preservatives and artificial colorings. So how do you handle your love for juicy burgers and crisp fries? You can still have them, just make them at home or find a mom and pop place or a better quality restaurant that uses real ingredients, like meat, vegetables, and grains.
Thou shalt not drink soda. If you’re addicted to sugary sodas, you could be drinking up to 30 teaspoons of sugar a day just by having two 20-ounce bottles of soda! I know, because I did it all the time as a teenager. But you don’t have to stay hooked – here is a way to kick the habit: Try subbing in salt-free seltzer water instead of soda. Sure, you crave the sugar, but I found that I missed most the fizz and bubbles in carbonated beverages. Ultimately, your drinks should be zero-calorie options that hydrate – like plain old water and unsweetened tea that you can enjoy hot or iced.
Thou shalt not foster bad feelings about food. Changing your mindset when it comes to food can have a huge impact on how you look and feel. So instead of worrying about how many calories are in each food or whether or not you will lose weight or feeling guilty about your existing bad habits, invest the time instead to take action. Learning how to add healthier meals, snacks, and habits to your daily routine, there are plenty of free resources on this site and if you need more of a helping hand there is always my weight loss program. Remember, it’s a lot easier to break bad eating habits when you replace your unhealthy foods with tasty substitutions that are good for you.
Thou shalt limit the amount of times you eat out weekly – and this includes both restaurants as well as take-out. Restaurant portions are 4 to 8-times the serving size you should have. The average American eats anywhere from 700 to 1300 calories when they consume a restaurant meal, but they don’t know it. Limiting the times you eat out saves big time on calories, money, and has one little known advantage – it makes you a better cook!
Thou shalt not let hunger lead you to bad meal choices. I’ve been guilty of this one in the past. You’re out and about, shopping, running errands and it’s taken much longer than you expected. You’re starving in an area that only has fast food or junk food, so you’re stuck! Now – when I know I’m going out – I’m always prepared. I pack a snack and have it in my purse or if I’m going to be out a lot longer, I make a fast sandwich that is enough for a meal.
Thou shalt not use highly processed ingredients to make meals. A lot of so called “healthy meals” I see in cookbooks or on websites aren’t healthy at all. They are just calorie-friendly cooking using artificially or highly processed packaged foods to make meals that just dial back calories, but leave out the important stuff like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They also rely on ingredients that contain additives that may hurt your health in the long run like nitrates, artificial colorings, and artificial sweeteners. How can you tell the difference? Just look at the ingredients list and if it’s a list of whole foods like carrots, broccoli, ground turkey you’re on the right track!
Thou shalt not let one food item limit your chances for losing weight or eating better. Have a “soft spot” for the ice cream tub lurking in your freezer? If you find yourself eating it more than once a week, check out the nutrition label. It could be what I call the “repeat offender” – something that you eat all the time that isn’t very calorie friendly. I had one client who was eating a pint of ice cream every evening which meant over 7000 extra calories a week or the equivalent of two pounds. So updating her shopping list with gorgeous goat’s milk ice cream, low-fat high quality frozen yogurt, or tempting sorbet could mean shaving off a pound a week. Also limiting the portion size to two scoops means still shaving off hundreds of calories.
Thou shalt not let food commercials and fad diets dictate what you eat and what you place on your dinner table. Whole vegetables like fruit, grains, lean protein and dairy are best. Cook for yourself, using healthy recipes that use all the good things Mother Nature has to offer so you can have the best of both worlds, calorie friendly and nutritious!
Thou shalt make peace with your cravings. Everyone craves sugar, fat, and salt at one time, it’s a normal biological truth built into our makeup for survival. So stop feeling bad about it! Address your cravings and learn easy, healthy ways to satisfy them. Crazy for chocolate? You can have delicious dark chocolate for around 100 calories, check out my recommendations for decadent snacks to learn more. Or try eating a medium apple, at only 74 calories, when you’re on the run to avoid that “starved” hunger mode that could drive you to the drive-through window or vending machine when you get the afternoon munchies. Studies show that eating high-fiber foods (like apples) slows digestion which means you’ll feel less hungry while keeping blood sugar stable.
Thou shalt learn to celebrate food. Learning to enjoy and appreciate healthy home-cooked meals is the easiest and best way to make healthy eating habits stick. Plus, enjoying your meals is a great way to enjoy your life more and find balance.
Have anything to add or comment on? Add it in the comment section below…