The 48-Hour Healthy Eating Jump Start
Day 1: Workday Schedule
Breakfast. A good breakfast, according to Newgent, would be something like a whole-grain English muffin with almond butter (1 tablespoon) and 100% fruit spread (2 to 3 teaspoons). Enjoy a piece of your favorite fruit with it, too. The benefit: fewer calories (about 350 total), less added sugar, and more nutrients. "I recommend always including at least three food groups in a healthful breakfast, with at least one of those containing protein, like eggs or nut butters."
But if you absolutely can't resist that oversize banana nut muffin you see in the window of the coffee shop, opt for just a muffin top or mini-muffin instead. (Bakery muffins are a lot more caloric than people realize, says Newgent, often containing 500-600 calories.)
That isn't a misprint -- heed the craving if it's all you can think about. "Once a week it's perfectly fine to follow your cravings," says Newgent. "I think if we don't satisfy those cravings sometimes, we don't stick to a healthier eating plan."
Another suggestion: Make your own healthier muffin recipe and pour it into a whole pan (rather than individual muffin cups), then cut them into 3-inch squares. You still get your muffin, but with a lot fewer calories.
A.M. snack. Try a banana with some almond butter -- you'll get potassium, protein, and complex carbs all in one. Potassium is key to keeping a healthy water balance between cells and bodily fluids, and it keeps our nerves and muscles running smoothly.
Another idea: Carry a baggie of 12 to 14 walnut halves (1/4 cup, which should fit into the palm of your hand). "They're a big bang for the buck," says Todd, who consults with the California Walnuts group. "They are a relatively inexpensive source of omega-3s, magnesium, antioxidants, and phosphorous, so they're good for your heart, they decrease inflammation, and a recent study found that they improve cognitive function in lab rats."
Lunchtime. Head to the nearest salad bar and opt for a smaller container than usual, which'll help you keep your portion size smaller while saving you money, says Todd. Don't be afraid to experiment with new veggies, either. "Jicama, beets, hearts of palm, and even cabbage can add unique flavors and crunch," says Todd. Go light on the cheese, but add in another source of lean protein: white turkey or chicken breast, tuna packed in water, shrimp, edamame, garbanzo/kidney beans, or a sprinkling of chopped eggs are all smart additions. And be sure to include a healthy fat source such as avocado or walnuts to maximize nutrient absorption and provide essential fatty acids. "By swapping walnuts for croutons you can reduce your saturated fat and sodium intake, while boosting your omega-3s," says Todd.
Avoid creamy salad dressings and consider making your own dressing from what's at the salad bar. Todd's rec: some olive oil, vinegar, and a fresh lemon or orange squeeze can give you flavor without the calories and fats.
Afternoon snack. If you walk by a Jamba Juice, skip it, says Newgent -- too much sugar. "You want to try to chew your calories rather than drink them. We tend not to adjust caloric intake based on liquids." Instead walk to the nearest farmers' market or fruit stand and pick out a variety of fruits with different colors. The more colors, the more variety in the nutrients you'll be getting.
For a vegetable snack, opt for hummus and cucumbers, which will give you protein, fiber, and folate -- important for heart health, especially in the childbearing years. "And hummus is just a fun way to eat your vegetables," adds Newgent.
Or try a piece of fruit with nonfat or low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese -- it will help meet your daily calcium needs, says Todd. And "If you're looking for a coffee break, try a nonfat latte to sneak in some additional calcium."
Dinner. Odds are you still need some servings of vegetables to get your daily rec. If you're craving a burrito, beware of the portion sizes and heavy doses of cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.
And if you can't kick that craving for red meat, there is a way to get a healthy dose. Skip the hamburger and upgrade yourself to an affordable lean flank steak.
"In general red meat should be limited, but can be included in the diet" says New York City-based Sharon Richter, RD. "It is a good source of iron, a mineral many women are deficient in."
The cut of the meat will determine how healthy it is. "You generally want a leaner cut, trim all visible fat, and stick to a serving of 3 ounces," adds Richter. A 3-ounce serving is about the size of a deck of cards (see portion sizing tips on page 1).
The leanest cuts of beef, according to the Cattlemen's Beef Board: eye round roast and steak, sirloin tip side steak, and top round roast and steak. (The most fatty cut: T-Bone steak.)
And if you're thinking of replacing that hamburger with a turkey burger, beware: "Not all ground turkey is created equally," says Richter. "Make sure it specifies white meat or 90 percent lean or lower."
Dessert. You do have calories to maintain, so opt for something you enjoy. If you're craving ice cream, look for a soy or hemp-based "frozen dessert" instead, suggests Newgent. They're not only better for the planet, but they bring plant-based nutritional benefits to your sweet tooth. Soy offers heart-healthy antioxidant isoflavones, and hemp brings much-needed omega-3s and vitamin E, also good for the heart and skin.
Todd also urges her clients to treat themselves to dessert once in a while, and "don't be hard on yourself. You should actually enjoy it, so take the guilt out of the equation. Every lifestyle should enjoy certain indulgences."
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