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Eat Healthier: 4 Smart Food Moves

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Dump the Junk

As your intake of processed and fast foods increases, so does your risk for obesity. Choosing foods in their most natural state -- potatoes instead of chips, milk instead of shakes, blueberries instead of pie -- almost always means more nutrients, fewer calories, and less fat, sugar, and salt. Three ways to dial down the empty calories:

Swap Smart

Look for less-processed versions of the foods you're craving, like strawberries instead of Twizzlers or oatmeal instead of oatmeal-raisin cookies. Cynthia Sass, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, suggests satisfying a case of the munchies with a handful of a whole-grain cereal like Cheerios instead of chips. You can also shave a few hundred calories by having a Fudgsicle or fruit-juice bar instead of ice cream, says Lisa Young, PhD, RD, an adjunct assistant professor of nutrition at New York University. Or try her favorite: "Dip a banana in chocolate, roll it in crushed peanuts, and freeze it."

Eat a Better Breakfast

Trade doughnuts, toaster pastries, and muffins for the gold standard of breakfasts: a bowl of whole-grain cereal, nonfat milk or soy milk, and a piece of fruit, which will put your blood sugar on an even keel and ward off midday cravings.

Lighten up Your Grocery Cart

The greater the variety of goodies you have stashed in your cupboard, the more you'll eat. "Limit the number of junk foods you throw in your cart to one a week," says Sass. That includes chips, candy, ice cream, and any other food without at least 10 percent of the RDA for either protein, fiber, or a vitamin or mineral.

Snack Defensively

Prevent yourself from getting so hungry that you'll eat whatever junk is within reach. When running errands, bring healthy munchies along so that you'll be less tempted by the giant cinnamon rolls at the mall food court. Apples, nuts, and whole-grain crackers are perfect portable snacks.

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