Healthy Eating Made Easy

Healthy eating requires precise planning, from grocery shopping to lunch options to eating out. The best way to maintain healthy eating habits is to have a good support system for your efforts.

Plan your supermarket visits. You can easily bypass foods that add valuable and needed nutrients to your nutritional plan when you shop impulsively and aimlessly. Schedule routine visits to the store, have a list, and never shop when you're hungry. Read the labels. You'll find a nutrition label on most food packages that provides information on how much protein, fat, carbohydrate, sodium, cholesterol, vitamins, minerals, etc.is contained in a single serving. This info helps you see how certain foods (even your sinful favorites) fit into a healthy diet. If you are shopping the perimeter of the store, buying fresh produce, fish, meat, poultry, and dairy, you're already getting most of what you need in a sound nutrition plan. Foods in the center of supermarket aisles generally contain the most preservatives and are devoid of important vitamins and minerals unless you really know what you are looking for.

Lunch and post-lunch tips. Bring your lunch to work in one of these five forms:

1) Brown bag containing a healthy sandwich or salad (it only takes a couple of minutes to pack it)

2) A nutrition bar, with an ideal combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

3) A protein shake in a thermos, with an apple at the side.

4) If you are a fan of pasta, watch what you put on it. Alfredo sauce and oils can pack a lot of calories. Use soup broths or vegetable purees as a sauce base. Add chopped vegetables to make a pasta salad. Dice up broiled or grilled chicken to get your protein in.

5) Plan ahead for a mid-afternoon snack at work - Have apples, oranges, and raw veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, or baby carrots, cans of tuna and chicken for boosting your energy levels.

Eating out tips.

When eating out at a restaurant, avoid entrees that are fried or in a cream sauce. Stick with fresh fruit, and ask for steamed veggies, which are nutritionally denser. Soups are generally low in calories, and hence a soup as a starter is a good idea. Other starters and appetizers should be either boiled, poached, barbecued, steamed or baked. For your protein, have baked poultry or fish. Skip the dinner rolls and butter. Have a salad with light dressing on the side. Ranch and cream dressings are usually higher in calories. Vinargrettes are usually the best in terms of calorie content.

The importance of a support group If you plan on joining a diet group (or are already in one), you'll get a boost when you attend weekly meetings. Whether you like the idea or not, diet groups can offer tremendous support, motivation, and education about eating a healthy diet. The social atmosphere fosters a sense of accountability and responsibility, which is conducive to more weight loss. Most successful dieters are involved in some kind of support group, whether it's family, a diet group, or friends. Having a "cheering section" could make the difference between quitting and persisting.

Author: Nitin Chhoda

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