Making heart-healthy food choices can help you enjoy your food without worrying as much about negative health impacts. Whether you have dietary restrictions or are interested in making healthy choices, here are some tips to keep you on track.
How to enjoy flavor
• Flavorful does not have to be fattening or salty. Try incorporating onions, leeks, garlic, scallions or ginger as a base of flavor for a dish.
• Use fresh herbs like basil, mint, sage or rosemary instead of dried herbs for a stronger boost of flavor in soups, sauces, marinades, dips, etc.
• Add smokiness to a dish with smoked paprika or dried chili peppers/powder.
• Use freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice on cooked vegetables or grains in place of salt.
• Use smaller plates. Instead of using dinner plates, use appetizer or dessert plates for meals. Studies show that people are inclined to feel as though they ate more when they are using smaller plates.
• Fill up each meal plate with at least half vegetables. You will feel satisfied with fewer calories.
• Include nutritious snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain crackers or hummus, in between meals to avoid being overly hungry at mealtime, which can result in overeating.
• When eating out, immediately ask for a to-go container and put half of your meal in the container before eating. Studies show people are more satisfied when they finish their plates.
How to eat better at home
• Plan ahead. Planning is key when it comes to sticking to healthy eating. Sit down for at least 30 minutes once a week to plan your meals and snacks. Make a grocery list and stick to that list at the store. Each meal should include one to two servings of whole grains or starchy vegetables, one to two servings of a rich, lean protein source and 1-2 servings of produce.
• Keep fresh fruit and vegetables stocked, washed and prepped so that they are more convenient to eat.
• Try not to keep calorie dense sweets and treats in the kitchen if you know you don’t have willpower. For example, if you know that you will binge eat cookies, avoid buying them. If you want one cookie, go to a bakery where you can buy just one.
• Make time to sit down and relax during mealtime. Many people overbook their daily schedules during the week, especially during the holidays, and this stress can increase the chances of overeating.
Smart shopping by paying attention to labels
• On average, we need 25-35+ grams of fiber each day. When looking at the daily value on food labels, 10-20 percent indicates it is a “good” source of fiber, greater than 20 percent indicates it is a “high” fiber choice. Try to choose foods in these ranges most often. Fiber helps to keep us full longer and keeps our energy levels more stable.
• Try to avoid added sugars in products. Look for products that have no added sugars.
• Limit salty processed foods. Always choose a “no salt added” or “low sodium” item when given the option. Rinse canned goods with water to decrease sodium by one-third.
• Limit saturated fat in foods. You can check for these by reading the ingredients. Foods that are high in saturated fat include: fatty steaks, sausages, lunch meats, full-fat dairy products, butter, heavy cream, coconut oil and poultry with skin.
Be mindful & always in the moment
• Slow down when eating. This allows you to be aware of your hunger and helps you know when you are satisfied before you are full. This also allows for better digestion.
• Don’t eat in front of the TV. Studies show that one eats 40 percent more and enjoys food less.
• Always ask yourself why you are eating. Are you hungry? Are you bored? Are you stressed? This allows you to become more in tune with our emotional eating. Would exercise or talking to a friend fill this need more than food?
• When attending holiday parties, never go hungry. Either eat a meal before you go or bring a healthy dish so you are not as tempted by the options.
• If you indulge in a sweet or treat, don’t get carried away. Enjoy in small amounts and savor them.
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