Easy diet changes for a healthier lifestyle
A hundred calories here and 100 calories there can quickly add up. Before you know it, your pants will feel a little tighter and your energy will slowly start slipping away. However, making a few simple changes to your diet can go a long way toward helping you create a healthier lifestyle.
Need some help figuring out how you can improve your diet? Simple changes in the way you eat can make your lifestyle go from flab to fab. Here's how.
Plan your meals and snacks
Bad choices often happen when you're rushed for time or haven't prepared a meal in advance. The George Foreman Grills Weight Loss Challenge website says that if you want to improve your diet, you should always grocery shop in advance and prepare meals and snacks for the upcoming week. Make a list of the foods you want to stick to, and never, ever go to the grocery store when you're hungry.
Once you're home, prepare all your vegetables and fruits by washing them and cutting them to turn them into easy on-the-go snacks. This will help you resist the temptation to grab unhealthy processed foods when you're pressed for time.
Spice up your life
Cinnamon, garlic and cayenne pepper are natural metabolism boosters, so add them to your meals, says Carina Sohaili, founder of Vibrant Healthy Life and a board-certified nutrition and health counselor.
"I carry a little container of cinnamon in my purse and splash it on everything," she says, adding that these items have been proven to curb cravings and increase satisfaction levels.
Leave that bag in the kitchen
Sohaili says you should avoid eating directly from a bag of chips, a box of cereal or even the fridge. Practice portion control by taking a reasonable amount of food, putting it on your plate and enjoying your meal away from the kitchen.
Pull a switch
There are several foods that you can switch out of your diet to save calories and obtain many other benefits.
For example, instead of french fries, indulge in a steamed sweet potato — which is packed with vitamins C and A, as well as potassium. Replace greasy potato chips with natural baked chips or air-popped popcorn. Sohaili suggests that as a midday munch, you should try seaweed, which is full of vitamins that are fantastic for boosting energy levels and providing stress relief.
Do you like yogurt? Try plain Greek yogurt instead of flavored yogurts (which are full of sugar), says Dr. J. Shah, chief medical director of Amari Medical. Other switches he suggests are egg whites instead of whole eggs, low-fat cheese instead of regular cheese and veggie garden burgers instead of regular hamburgers.
Instead of butter, try healthy oils like olive and avocado oil, says Amanda Turner, a registered dietitian with Curves International.
"Butter is high in saturated fat and should be used in only small amounts," she says.
Enjoy dessert — in moderation
Dessert is an easy time to indulge, but making smart choices can help cut down that calorie count.
Instead of calorie-filled milkshakes and ice cream sundaes, try frozen yogurt, which is full of protein and comes in many varieties. Orange Leaf, for instance, offers a Mississippi Mud Pie selection that's under 500 calories yet includes chocolate froyo, marshmallows, walnuts and graham crackers.
Watch your drinks
Not paying attention to what you drink is one of the easiest ways to ramp up your calorie count. Instead of sodas or sweetened drinks, try tea like Tetley Iced Tea Blend or carbonated water like Sparkling ICE, which has zero calories and is filled with vitamins and antioxidants.