Nutrition and Eating

Simple Steps, Surprising Results

By Nicola Rebello-Johnson, Med, RDN, LD

Many of us have moved beyond fad diets and prefer instead to focus on doing small, impactful things every day to be healthier. If that's more your speed than strict diets and rigorous routines, consider these simple tips that create surprising results!

Tip #1: Start with breakfast.

Don't make your body wait until lunch - several hours after you rise - for fuel. Breakfast kick starts your metabolism by replenishing glucose (blood sugar), glycogen (carbohydrate store used as fuel for the brain and muscle) and fluid. A healthy breakfast also decreases the chance of overeating later in the day.

Tip #2: Add fiber.

Fiber slows the rate that sugar is absorbed in the blood stream, which means you stay full longer. You need 20 to 25 grams of fiber a day, which you can get by eating whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, and brown rice. Always drinks lots of water when eating foods high in fiber.

Tip #3: Replace candy or a sweet treat with fruit.

It might not sound as satisfying, but you'd be surprised at how well it works to stop those sugar cravings. You'll stay full longer and have more energy because your blood glucose levels will be steady.

Tip #4: Read labels.

The label will tell you how much sugar, calories and fat your snack includes. Even foods advertised as "natural" might be high in added sugar, and something advertised as including "no trans fat" might have up to a half gram of this unhealthy fat in one serving. Watch for items that say "real fruit juice" to make sure it doesn't have added corn syrup.

Tip #5: Keep a food diary or journal.

Try this for a week. It will make you more conscious of what you have eaten. You may be surprised by something, like how much you're eating or how little you're getting in terms of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Tip #6: Eat in a circle.

This term comes from encouraging children to try everything on their plate ("in a circle") before asking for seconds on anything. More globally, it means getting out of the rut of eating the same thing every day; instead, choose a variety of fruits and vegetables of different colors to fulfill your body's vitamin and mineral requirements. If you "eat in a circle" successfully, you might even eliminate the need for an oral supplement.

Tip #7: Hydrate.

Dehydration can masquerade as hunger! Being hydrated helps the heart pump blood more easily to the muscles and organs. If you feel hungry, see if drinking an 8-ounce glass of water curbs it. Avoid sports drinks with electrolytes unless you have just finished a strenuous exercise routine. (Note: Dark-colored urine could mean you need more water!)

Whatever specific foods you choose, a good diet is one that is safe, effective at delivering whatever results you seek (weight loss or maintenance, for instance), nutritious, and helps guard against health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Tags Nutrition and Eating , Weight Loss