Recently, I decided to go to a nutritionist to better understand what I should be eating. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I have been tracking what I eat on Livestrong.com, which has been a great tool for knowing how many calories I eat each day and the proportion of carbs, protein, and fat. However, the tool did not help me understand whether I was eating the right combination of foods – I always felt hungry! Meeting with her turned out to be quite helpful, and I thought I’d share some of the great tips I learned.
Certainly, we all know the basics: watch how much sugar we eat (or drink if you are a big fruit juice or soda drinker) and booze we drink as well as maintaining a balanced diet. Whether we act on these is another thing. Additionally, even when we are trying to have a healthy eating habit, it is sometimes tough to know how to do it. Below are some great refreshers and even new insights.
- Tip 1: Eat protein at every meal. At lunch and dinner, this means 5 oz of things like chicken and fish. (I started to weigh my protein and was surprised at how much chicken and fish 5 oz comes out to be!) Other options are oats, almonds, eggs, and cottage cheese.
- Tip 2: Two to one ratio of vegetables to starch. In other words, have 2 cups of veggies (frozen or fresh, not canned) and one cup of brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or other starch for lunch and dinner. Again, I measured these to get an idea of how much food it is, and it is quite a lot!
- Tip 3: For breakfast, I already eat steel cut oatmeal and add almond milk to it for substance, but this does not fill me up. She recommended added a couple of hard-boiled eggs rather than fruit.
- Tip 4: While we all know fiber is important for our health, I often wonder if I eat the right kinds of fiber. She suggested a couple of food items I should add to my regimen, both of which I have found to be helpful.
- Idea 1: Scandinavian Crisp Bread, which is 12 calories with 5 grams of fiber. I put peanut butter on it and have two as a snack. You can find them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (at least the one in New York City) or click here to order it on their website. As for taste, it is certainly not a cupcake, but it does act as a great morning or afternoon snack. I feel satisfied and don’t look in my cabinet for more snacks.
- Idea 2: Simply Fiber cereal, which is 140 calories per serving with skim milk and contains no sugar. I will tell you up front that the cereal looks like rabbit pellets. Again, it’s not a cupcake, but it is healthy and filling. I purchased the cinnamon flavor one so that it is not so plain.
- Idea 3: Popcorn! No, not movie popcorn and not microwave popcorn. If you don’t have a machine that air pops corn kernels, then pour a tiny bit of olive oil in a pot, add the corn kernels, place the lid on top and start shaking the pot until all the kernels pop. Very filling and so few calories.
- Tip 5: Sugar – The more you eat it, the more you crave it. How true this is! When I eat a cookie, I just want another one, and another one! She suggested I think about how I feel after, which is still hungry and a bit sick from all the sugar. So far it’s worked. For instance, the Haagen Dazs I purchased for my husband is still unopened. (Note: His milkshake recipe is one pint of Haagen Dazs, a dash of milk, and chocolate syrup…for one serving! In our five years together, I have only had one of these.)
- Tip 6: Fluids – I must drink 64 ounces of water, at least. While many of us know this, do we really drink this much? In my case, I never know if I do, so she suggested I buy a plastic container and fill it with water at the beginning of each day, which will help me better monitor how much water I drink. I have read that starting your day with an 8 ounce glass of water helps curb hunger.
- Tip 7: Fats. It’s OK to eat fatty foods like walnuts, avocado, and olive oil – all in moderation, of course.
Of course, there are other important factors such as eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, drinking skim, rather than whole, milk, etc. You can read about these basic FDA recommendations on various websites.
Happy healthy eating!