Joel Peterson – Level 5 Personal Trainer Apple Athletic Club
Over the last five weeks we have presented a series on weight management strategies that work. This week let’s take a look at eating strategies that will help insure your good health whether you are losing weight or in maintenance.
- READ LABELS: Don’t buy anything with unfamiliar ingredients you can’t pronounce — the shorter the list of ingredients, the better. Try to derive most of your diet from foods that don’t require labels.
- CUT DOWN ON PROCESSED FOODS: “It’s important to reduce, not necessarily eliminate, your intake of processed foods that are loaded with chemicals, preservatives, dyes and GMOS (genetically modified organisms) as well as foods high in sugar and poor-quality oils,” says Jared Koch, founder of Clean Plates. DON’T: Discount all processed foods. For instance, some foods, like bagged spinach and pre-cut vegetables are minimally processed simply for convenience.
- GRAVITATE TOWARDS A PLANT-BASED DIETS: You should eat lots of vegetables, along with fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, to ensure you are getting lots of nutrients. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends filling at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal.
- CHOOSE YOUR MEATS WISELY: Choose higher-quality meats, ideally pasture-raised and grass-fed, or at the very least free of hormones and antibiotics. A study published in the Nutrition Journal in 2010 found that grass-fed beef had less cholesterol-elevating saturated fatty acids and was higher in precursors for vitamin A, vitamin E and cancer-fighting antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef. Eat no more than three to four ounces of meat as part of a healthy meal. Helpful hint: three or four ounces of meat is the size of a deck of cards or a bar of soap.
- CHOOSE NATURAL SWEETNESS OVER SUGER: Natural sweeteners offer distinctive flavor profiles and redemption in the form of the many minerals and other healthful compounds they contain. DON’T: Eat or drink anything that includes artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose or aspartame. A 2014 study published in Nature found that consumption of such non-caloric artificial sweeteners could cause abnormal metabolism and a higher risk of diabetes. To be on the safe side, choose natural alternatives like honey, molasses, agave nectar, maple syrup, and barley malt or rice syrup. AVOID HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP AND SUGAR.
- GO WHOLE GRAIN: Choose sprouted or whole grains over processed grains. Harvard researchers actually recommend devoting a quarter of your plate at any meal to whole grains, thanks to studies that show reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Ways to up your whole-grain intake include eating brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain pilaf. DON’T be fooled by confusing packaging. Buzzwords like “multigrain,” “100-percent wheat” and “stone ground” do not necessarily denote whole-grain foods. Also, look for these five USDA guidelines: whole grain as the first ingredient, no added sugars in the first three ingredients, the word “whole” before any grain ingredient, a carbohydrate-to-fiber ratio of less than 10:1 and a stamp reading “whole grain.”
- SHOP SMART: Maximize your fresh-food shopping efforts by checking dates before buying and reaching for the freshest fare at the grocery store. DON’T throw food away without knowing the difference between the “sell by” and “use by” labeling. A study published in September 2013 found that 91 percent of consumers mistakenly threw food away based on the “sell by” date, even though the food was still safe to eat.
- STAY HYDRATED: Drink plenty of water throughout your daily routine. Experts recommend drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses, or about two liters, every day. The amount you need varies from person to person, depending on activity level and climate. If you’re not a big fan of H2O, you can up your intake of foods that are 85 to 95 percent water, such as celery, tomatoes, oranges and melons.
- EMBRACE HEALTHY FATS: Keep in mind that not all fats are to be avoided. Fats are much maligned, but they are essential for life. Healthy fats — like those from nuts, avocados and olive oil — help to keep us satisfied, stabilize our blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels. DON’T mistake “low fat” for healthy. A study published in November 2006 in the Journal of Marketing Research found that low-fat labels actually caused people to eat more because they decreased food-related guilt and adversely affected perceptions of the appropriate serving size.
- DON’T STRESS YOURSELF OUT: While common principles like those outlined here act as the guideline, clean eating can be highly individual — and it doesn’t have to be stressful either. “Some people think that if you ever eat a speck of white sugar or a grain of wheat, you’re not eating clean. I personally think that clean eating is best attained by striving toward big ideals of eating lots of veggies, lean proteins and unprocessed foods — and then eating off-limit items on occasion when you’re being mindful. It’s all about progress over perfection.
The more you are successful at achieving the about guidelines the healthier you will be and better you will feel. As Joe Namath said before Super Bowl III “I guarantee it”.