Ways To Eat Healthy And Lose Weight

calNutrition is a hot topic these days, yet many of my clients still struggle with consistently following through with “the basics,” and the stats show that missing the mark on many healthy habits is the norm. For example, the median daily intake of produce for U.S. adults is 1.1 servings of fruit and 1.6 servings of veggies, far below the minimum recommended five daily servings.

If you’re going to set just one goal for 2015, I think eating more produce should be it, but I’ve also listed four others below. I know you’ve heard them before, but they are without a doubt the most tried-and-true, impactful eating habits you can foster?both for your waistline and your health. And despite knowing them, you may not be achieving them, so they’re worth considering as you choose your resolutions.

If taking them all on at once seems overwhelming, try a “step-ladder” approach: Focus on one change until it feels like a normal part of your daily routine, then add another, and another. Sometimes taking it slow ups the chances that behaviors will stick, so come December 2015, you’ll be celebrating a year of accomplishments.

Eat produce at every meal

There are numerous benefits to making produce a main attraction at mealtime. In addition to upping your intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, eating at least five servings a day is tied to a lower risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. Fruits and veggies also help displace foods that pack more calories per bite, a plus if you’re trying to lose weight. For example, one cup of non-starchy vegetables contains about 25 calories, compared to 200 in a cup of cooked pasta. And reaching for a medium-sized pear in place of a handful of chips, crackers, or cookies can slash anywhere from 50 to 200 calories.

How to do it: A good rule of thumb is to include a serving of fruit in each breakfast and snack, and two servings of veggies in every lunch and dinner. One serving is 1 cup fresh, about the size of a tennis ball. Whip fruit into a smoothie, add it to oatmeal or yogurt, or just bite right in. And for easy ways to make veggies the base of a meal, check out my previous post: 5 delicious pasta alternatives with a fraction of the calories.

Make water your beverage of choice

You’ve heard about the unwanted effects of drinking both regular and diet soda, but you may not be aware of some of the benefits of drinking more H2O. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who get much of their daily fluid intake from plain water tend to have healthier diets overall, including more fiber, less sugar, and fewer high-calorie foods.

And in addition to hydrating you, water may be a helpful weight loss aid, by curbing appetite and boosting metabolism. One study found that people who drank about 7 cups of water a day, ate nearly 200 fewer daily calories compared to those who gulped less than one glass. Another found that when adults drank 2 cups of water right before eating a meal they ate between 75 and 90 fewer calories. And a German study concluded that consuming 16-ounces of water upped calorie burning by 30% within 10 minutes, an effect that was sustained for more than an hour.

How to do it: Reach for 16 ounces (2 cups) of water four times a day. And if you dislike the taste of plain H2O, spruce it up. Add wedges of lemon or lime, fresh mint leaves, cucumber slices, fresh grated ginger or organic citrus zest, or a bit of mashed juicy fruit, like berries or tangerine wedges.

Choose whole-food starches

Americans are eating far too many refined grains, including white versions of bread, pasta, rice, crackers and pretzels, in addition to baked goods and cereals made with refined starch. The intake of whole grains, like brown rice, whole wheat, and quinoa is on the rise, yet the average intake of whole grains in the U.S. is less than one serving a day. Research shows that a higher whole grain intake is tied to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. The latter may be because whole grains are filling: Their fiber helps delay stomach emptying, which keeps you fuller longer, delays the return of hunger, and helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, which are tied to appetite regulation.

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