Nothing feels better then making progress on your recent weight loss goals, but sometimes trying to cut back on calories could mean you’re cutting back on nutrition.
So what are some of the good things you might be missing out on your new diet?
Iron deficiency, called anemia, occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron. Iron is important because it helps you spread oxygen throughout the body, and is especially important for your blood to transport oxygen to your muscles. Vegetarians can be at risk for not getting enough iron since the “heme” iron found in meat like beef and pork is much easier for the body to absorb compared to the “non-heme” in iron rich plant foods like beans, lentils, broccoli, and collards. Try my cocoa flank steak with cilantro lentils for an iron boost.
Tip: Don’t take a calcium supplement along with an iron-rich meal, as high amount of calcium can block iron absorption. Take your supplement earlier or later in the day. If you’re trying to cut back on calories but still eat meat, try eating a smaller portion (about the size of a deck of cards) and combining it with low calorie sources of non-heme iron like spinach, peas, green beans, and collards.
Vitamin D, thought to be the new “must have” when it comes to cancer prevention is essential to maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as uptake of calcium. I’m a very healthy eater and I was surprised last year when my doctor did blood work and said my levels are low. Vitamin D isn’t as abundant in food sources, but you can find it in fortified milk, fortified orange juice, fortified yogurt, tuna and salmon. Try my salmon nicoise salad for a filling, vitamin D rich meal.
Tip: To boost my vitamin D levels, I drink a skim hot cocoa in the afternoon as an afternoon snack, at only 120 calories, and I take calcium supplements fortified with D. Remember to get gentle sun exposure on your arms or hands, skip the sunscreen for that short time and wear a baseball cap to shield your face.
Sometimes, by drastically cutting carbs and not eating enough veggies, you could be missing out on fiber — especially if your carbs happen to be white wheat or made from whole grains or veggies with higher carb loads. Fiber is incredibly important for good health. It helps maintain bowel integrity and health. I gradually increase my insoluble and soluble fiber intake — it keeps things moving along in your intestinal tract — the ultimate detox! Health professionals say fiber-rich diets may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease).
Fiber also lowers blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels. And good news, high-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register when you’re no longer hungry, so you’re less likely to overeat.
How much fiber should you get per day? Aim for 25 to 35 grams a day.
Tip: Some fruits and veggies that you think are high sources of fiber are not. So check up on the fiber content of vegetables before you choose your salad topping. For example, 1 cup chopped celery contains 2 grams, while 1 cup of beans contain 15 grams — 1 cup of sliced zucchini has 0 grams, compared to 1 cup broccoli at 5 grams.
Learn more about my easy-to-follow healthy eating program where each recipe comes in at around 200 calories with nutrition and portion-size already built in!