Many individuals need to change their eating habits. Fast food, sweet drinks and desserts have resulted in the majority of adults and one in three children in the United States suffering from obesity or becoming overweight. The best options include decreasing portion sizes, substituting healthy snacks for meals and making other dietary changes to ensure healthy weight management. The majority of calories are from sugar and fats including burgers, chips, tacos and sweet snacks. =
Portion control is about more than the amount of food consumed. In addition to eating less, saturated fats and sugars should be decreased. This accounts for approximately 700 calories per day. Refined grains including white bread, salt and fast food should be reduced as well. Nutritious food should be included with meals including:
- Seafood and lean protein including a minimum of eight ounces of fish per week.
• Replace solid fats including margarine and butter with oils such as canola and olive.
• Make healthy choices including fruits and vegetables, beans, eggs and low-fat or nonfat dairy.
• Replace 50 percent of refined or all-white grains like cereals and bread with whole grains.
Restaurant menus and food labels contain hidden calories. Read labels carefully and do not be afraid to ask questions when dining out. There are ways to effectively decrease portions including:
- Use a smaller dish such as a salad plate for meals
• Do not place extra food on the table
• Use single-serving containers for storing leftovers
• Do not consume second helpings
Learn the correct number of calories according to activity level, gender and age. Moderately active females require between 1,800 and 2,200 calories per day, with males needing between 2,200 and 2,800 calories. A healthy diet includes all of the following every day.
- Fruit: One and one-half to two and one-half cups
• Vegetables: Two and one-half to three and one-half cups
• Low-fat or nonfat dairy: Three cups
• Nut, fish and plant oils: Maximum of five to eight teaspoons
• Grains: Six to 10 ounces, 50 percent from whole grains
• Protein including seafood, meat and beans: Five to seven ounces
• Sugars and solid fats: 170 to 400 calories
Most people decrease calories to lose weight. This can be accomplished with healthy snacks. Replacing meals with snacks can stabilize energy levels and help prevent overeating. Some of the best healthy snacks include:
Oatmeal is rich in fiber, low in calories, easy to prepare, delicious and has 15 grams of protein per serving.
Meal Replacement Bars:
These bars are portable, tasty and an excellent way to satisfy cravings for sweets. Every bar is high in fiber and provides 10 grams of protein.
Greek yogurt offers double the protein of traditional yogurt. Purchase plain Greek yogurt and add honey, fresh berries, chopped almonds or chia seeds to include omega fatty acids and antioxidants.
Tuna Spinach Wrap:
Tuna contains a lot of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B. Drizzle drained tuna with a little olive oil, then use large spinach leaves as a wrapping for a delicious snack.
Mix nuts, oats, seeds, dried fruits and a small handful of dark chocolate chips for a tasty, high-energy snack.
Hummus and Veggies:
Dip carrot sticks, orange, yellow or red peppers or sugar snap peas in hummus for a healthy snack and meal replacement.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables:
Fruits including bell peppers and carrots are extremely high in fiber. Vegetables rich in fiber include apples, pears, bananas and berries. The ideal snack includes one fruit and vegetable.
Roll thin slices of turkey and apples in swiss cheese for a snack high in calcium, protein, B vitamins and fiber.
Fruit and Nut Butter Crackers:
Spread almond or cashew butter on whole-wheat crackers and top with a couple of pear or apple wedges. This snack offers magnesium, iron and vitamin E.
Losing Weight and Improving Health
It is easy to become confused and overwhelmed by the massive amount of advice regarding weight loss. Some diets include meals plans, raw foods, prepackaged foods or shakes, but they are generally fad diets. Maintaining these types of diets is difficult if not impossible. The best solution is a personalized, healthy lifestyle that can be maintained. Some of the best options are detailed below.
Filling up on fiber is possible with healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Studies have shown weight loss and maintenance are easier when consuming foods rich in fiber. Try snacking on seeds and nuts high in fiber, including oats with breakfast or topping a salad with beans.
Added sugar including sugary drinks is one of the main reasons people gain weight and suffer from heart disease and diabetes. To remain healthy and lose weight, eliminate foods high in sugar including soda and candy.
To decrease calories from drinks, avoid milkshakes, athletic performance drinks, juice, coffees made with sugar, whipped cream and artificial colors and sports drinks.
Healthy fats including nuts, avocados and olive oil can enhance weight loss. Studies have shown these foods decrease cravings and help people remain full longer.
In addition to the importance of what is consumed, where it is consumed is often critical. Eating in front of a computer or television causes distractions often resulting in larger portions and weight gain. The best option is to enjoy meals and snacks at the dining table since this eliminates distractions while establishing a connection with family or friends.
Keep in mind using a smartphone at the dining table to play games, enjoy social media, read emails, send texts, etc. is just as distracting. Smartphones should be turned off or left in another room during meals and snacks.
Maintaining an ideal weight is synonymous with living a healthy lifestyle. By substituting healthy snacks for meals, consuming a healthy and balanced diet, and proportioning meals, it is possible to accomplish both. Just because a meal or snack is healthy does not mean it is not delicious. Always be ready to try something new as well, such as delicious Jamaican Snacks.