It’s no secret: The American diet needs to change. Fast foods, high-calorie desserts, sweet drinks, and more have filled us up — and out. Most adults and 1 in 3 children in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Some people don’t really understand the term obese, they think that it means your gigantic. Not that’s not what they mean. It’s a term that health care experts use when your excess body weight is large enough to cause you health problems.
Changing the way you eat is pretty easy if you follow a few tips. To start, learn about some of the worst food offenders and how to replace them with healthier choices. Then try some portion-control tricks.
Most of our calories come from foods high in fat and sugar. Sweets like cookies and cakes, along with yeast breads, top the list. We also load up on calories in chicken dishes (often breaded and fried), sodas, and energy and sports drinks. Pizza, alcohol, pasta, tortilla dishes, and beef dishes pile on more calories. Except for fries and chips, fruits and vegetables don’t even make a dent in our daily calorie count. Just two problem foods — solid fats and added sugars — count for about 800 of our daily calories. That’s almost half the calories an average woman should have in a day. U.S. dietary guidelines call for limiting solid, trans, and saturated fats. Cut back on fast foods and refined grains, like white bread. While you’re at it, cut down on sodium (salt), too. Most of us get too much, putting us at risk for high blood pressure and heart and kidney disease.
Add more nutritious foods to your diet.
- Instead of fatty meats, choose lean protein and seafood. Shoot for at least 8 ounces of fish a week.
- Instead of solid fats like butter or margarine, use olive, canola, and other oils that are good for your waistline and your heart.
- Instead of baked goods and cereals with all white or refined grains, make at least half of your grains whole grains.
- Other healthy choices: non-fat or low-fat dairy foods, eggs, beans, and, of course, fruits and vegetables.
Some of your favorite foods may just need a makeover. Take pizza. It has lots of calories, refined grains, and saturated and solid fats. It might seem like the first food to axe from your eating plan. But with a few tweaks, pizza can fit into a healthy diet:
- Choose a thin, whole-grain crust.
- Pile on veggies and skip the meat.
- Use no cheese or just a sprinkle.
- Have one small slice and fill the other half of your plate with vegetables.
What Are Whole Grains?
The outer shell, or “bran,” of a kernel of wheat, rice, barley, or other grains are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Fiber is a top food for good health. It helps you feel full on fewer calories and keeps your bowel movements regular. But to make white (refined) flour from a kernel of wheat, food makers remove the bran. With it goes much of the fiber and vitamins. That’s what critics of refined flours like me are talking about. Refined or processed flour has had the nutrition stripped from the wheat and all processed flours contain refined wheat and don’t be fouled by Whole Wheat bread or other bakery goods. If you read the labels it will say refined flour or processed wheat flour. You want to buy Whole Grain or Gluten Free bakery Goods. Gluten-free means that this product contain no wheat and that’s okay for those that want to avoid Wheat, but I prefer Whole Grain and it might contain several different grains but they can’t say Whole Grain unless it doesn’t contain refined flour.
What Are Solid Fats?
Solid fats, which have a lot of saturated and trans fatty acids, are usually solid at room temperature. These include butter, stick margarine, shortening, and animal fats. Cream, fatty cuts of meat, some cheese, bacon, and chicken skin have solid fat in them. Avoid this fat as much as you can. These are the fats that clog your arteries.
Fats that have healthier unsaturated fatty acids in them are usually liquid at room temperature or oils. If oils are hydrogenated, though, they become solid fats. Unhealthy hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are in some margarine’s, baked goods, and packaged desserts. Manufacturers will use these oils to cut costs.
If we don’t stop eating these fats that cause our health problems, this may be the first generation of Americans that will live a shorter life than our parents.
I write about losing weight, how to lose weight, what foods to eat when you’re trying to lose weight and exercise that will help you lose weight. I wrote an ebook that will give you all the info in one read. It’s a how-to book that also tells you about the mistakes I made and how to avoid them.