Food to feel good

Some foods taste so good while we’re eating them, but can leave us feeling blah, bloated and feeling guilty just moments after we’ve brushed away the crumbs. But other foods are scientifically shown to lift our spirits. Here are five foods that will make you feel good right away!

Contents

1. Raw walnuts and cashews

An ounce of walnuts has four grams of protein (which fills you up and helps keep blood-sugar levels steady) and two grams of fiber (also helps fill you up), according to New York nutritionist Elisa Zied, registered dietitian and author of “Younger Next Week.”

RELATED: A daily handful of walnuts may lower fatal heart attack risk

They’re also a good source of magnesium and phosophorus: Having low levels of magnesium has been linked to increased risk of depression, while high levels of magnesium have been linked to reduced symptoms of depression.

Walnuts also contain cell-protecting antioxidants and are low in carbohydrates, which means they won’t cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin. “Insulin spikes are a reason people’s moods crap out, particularly in late afternoon,” said Dr. Drew Ramsey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and co-author of “The Happiness Diet.”

Suggested serving: One handful

Recipe to try: Miso-walnut dressing and kale salad

2. Kale

TODAY Show: Kathie Lee and Hoda raved about this deliciously simple kale salad. — April 6, 2016Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

One cup of kale is an an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K and magnesium, and a good source of fiber, said Zied. Kale is also high in copper, a trace mineral that works to support many vital functions.

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” is one of the healthiest foods on the planet,” said Ramsay.

Suggested serving: For salads, shoot for one to two cups of raw kale. For juicing, about the same. For kale chips, homemade is best and shoot for five to 10 chips.

Recipe to try: Homemade kale chips

3. Oysters

“Oysters are incredibly low in calories and decrease inflammation,” says New York nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D. and author of “Read It before You Eat It.”

RELATED: How to eat oysters with ease — and be a pro at the raw bar

Taub-Dix says oysters are heart-healthy and contribute to that great feeling after eating because they improve overall circulation. Oysters are also very high in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids. And, of course, they’ve long been considered an aphrodisiac.

“Oysters are always on the menu around Valentine’s Day,” says Taub-Dix.

RELATED: 6 foods to get you in the mood

Oysters are also a great source of zinc — an undervalued mineral, said Ramsey — and vitamin B12. Zinc has a role in helping our bodies fight off stress and is essential to the part of the brain that regulates mood and memory.

Ramsey calls oysters the “perfect brain food.”

Suggested serving: Six to 12 oysters

4. Coffee

cup of coffeeFeaturepics

Coffee is practically a magic bean when it comes to mood lifting: The caffeine in coffee can boost mental focus and alertness and athletic performance. Coffee consumption may also protect against Type 2 diabetes and decrease the risk of depression. But the less you consume, the better it works.

RELATED: Study finds more evidence that coffee can be a life saver

Ramsey recommends avoiding very sugary coffee drinks, which cause bloating.

Suggested serving: Coffee has about 150 mg of caffeine per cup. Limit consumption to about 300 mg caffeine per day and consume it once a day, at the time you want to be most alert, TODAY nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom said.

Recipe to try: The perfect home-brewed cup, minus extra sugar and milk

A mid-morning coffee may be better for your health, experts say

Nov. 9, 201500:52

5. Dark chocolate

dark chocolateFeaturePics

“Dark chocolate is one of the biggest mood boosters,” said Ramsey. Dark chocolate not only provides immediate eating pleasure, but it has a high percentage of cacao, which has more antioxidant power than many other foods.

Suggested serving: Two to four small squares a day.

Recipe to try: Five-minute chocolate mug cake

5 healthy truths about wine, chocolate, sleep

Sept. 11, 201503:57

50 Foods to Look and Feel Better Than Ever

Whether you’re fresh out of the salon or just crushed another CrossFit session, you know that feeling good about your body can change your entire outlook.

Unfortunately, for many of us, our food choices are conspiring against us, making us look bad and feel even worse. While that juicy burger and mountain of fries may provide some momentary satisfaction, the exhaustion you feel and the bloated belly you see in the mirror afterward are rarely worth it. The good news? There are countless delicious foods that can keep your body firing on all cylinders. These nutritional powerhouses can give you the energy you need, helping you look as good as you feel inside.

Even better, these foods aren’t pricey, obscure options you’ll spend half your life searching for; these treats are only as far as your nearest grocery store shelf. Start looking and feeling better today by adding these dietary dynamos to your meals. And when you’re ready to get your body and brain into a healthier place, discover the 22 Ways to Lose 2 Inches of Belly Fat in 2 Weeks!

1

Salmon

There’s nothing fishy about the health benefits of this coral-colored seafood. Loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can make you look good and feel great. Salmon’s omega-3s help reduce inflammation, lower your risk of heart disease, and help prevent against neurological issues as you age. Better yet, a study conducted at Purdue University reveals that omega-3s increased study subjects’ natural collagen production, thus helping you maintain your youthful glow. For more reasons to add this food to your diet, don’t miss these 20 Reasons You Should Be Eating More Fish.

2

Apricots

Good things do come in small packages. Case in point: the petite, but potent, apricot. In addition to their wealth of beta-carotene, which researchers at Ulm University in Germany have linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease, apricots are also a great way to load your diet with vitamin C. Research reveals that vitamin C can not only boost your immune system, but lower your risk of depression, too, making you healthier and happier along the way.

3

Raspberries

Just a few raspberries on your morning oatmeal could be the key to looking and feeling great all day long. Raspberries have a low glycemic index, meaning they’re a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth without risking a major blood sugar spike or triggering fat storage. These fiber-rich fruits are also a great source of resveratrol, which researchers at Harvard Medical School have linked to reductions in cellular aging. They also just so happen to pack anthocyanins, an antioxidant pigment that can reduce dementia risk, according to research published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. For more ways to satisfy your cravigns while whittling your waistline, make the 30 Best Foods for 6-Pack Abs part of your regular routine.

4

Spinach

Your mom wasn’t lying when she said that eating your greens was good for you. A study conducted at Lund University found that study subjects given spinach extract were 95 percent less likely to eat for pleasure, instead of hunger cues, and they increased their weight loss by 43 percent when compared to a control group.

5

Lamb

Protein powerhouses like lamb are an easy way to fill up without filling out your waistline. Not only is protein a more satiating choice than quickly-digested carbs, which turn into fat when not burned off, lamb in particular is loaded with conjugated linoleic acid, which can help keep muscles from atrophying, according to research conducted at the University of Texas. The result? You’ll not only look leaner, you can also enjoy improved firmness and fewer wrinkles as you age.

6

Sesame Seeds

A little sesame-crusted tuna here, some seeds on your salad there, and you’ve got a surefire solution to your body woes. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health not only found that women who consumed the most lignans, compounds found in sesame seeds, were less likely to pack on unwanted pounds, sesame seeds are also good sources of non-dairy calcium, which can help keep your bones strong and your smile healthy and bright.

7

Eggs

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, and it’s easier than ever to enjoy its benefits when eggs are on the menu. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity reveals that individuals who ate protein-rich eggs for breakfast enjoyed greater weight loss than those who ate a similar number of calories from carbohydrates. That’s far from the only benefit you’ll get from the occasional omelet, however; researchers at the University of Wisconsin have found lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients found in eggs, effective at keeping your vision sharp, making it easier to admire all that weight loss progress you’ve made.

8

Collard Greens

Getting some leafy greens on your plate doesn’t have to mean tucking into the same old boring salad day after day. Collard greens are a great way to mix up your meal plan while still enjoying all the health benefits that come along with eating your greens, from increased weight loss to improved digestion. According to a study from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, leafy greens can even keep your brain sharp as you age, making collard greens one smart snack. For more ways to load your meals with healthy veggies, turn to the 30 Healthy Side Dishes That Satisfy!

9

Kiwi

This fuzzy little fruit is more than just fun to eat: it’s also a great treat for both your looks and your health. Kiwis are packed with beta-carotene, which researchers at Münster University Hospital have found effective at protecting against sun damage. Even better, the wealth of vitamin C in kiwis has been shown to improve immune health, and researchers at Arizona State University have even found a correlation between vitamin C intake and reduction in body fat.

10

Asparagus

A little asparagus on your menu could mean a healthier, happier body in no time. In addition to being a filling, low-calorie addition to any diet, asparagus is a good source of prebiotic fiber inulin, which can help improve the balance of bacteria in your gut, boosting your immune system and helping you slim down along the way. This can be a major boon in the long run, too—researchers at Lund University have found that a healthy gut microbiome can reduce your risk of cognitive decline.

11

Grapes

Grab a handful of red grapes and you’ll be looking leaner and feeling better in no time. Red grapes are a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth and are loaded with resveratrol, an antioxidant pigment linked to reductions in belly fat. Research also suggests that resveratrol can increase mental acuity and keep vision sharp, making anybody feel like a million bucks.

12

Turmeric

Sprinkling some turmeric on your favorite dish or sneaking some into a smoothie can help you enjoy better health both outside and in. This antioxidant powerhouse is a serious inflammation-fighter, and the results of a study published in Nutrition and Cancer even reveal that turmeric can help lower your risk of sun-related skin damage.

13

Butternut Squash

What’s better than a bowl of butternut squash soup when the temperature starts to dip? Maybe the health benefits you’ll enjoy along with that comforting flavor. Butternut squash is packed with beta-carotene, a major player in the fight against cognitive ailments later in life. Better yet, research published in Acta Dermato-Venerologica reveals that beta-carotene supplementation can even help prevent damage from UV rays. Make sure your favorite soup isn’t doing more harm than good by discovering our 36 Best and Worst Canned Soups!

14

Mackerel

Some mackerel on your menu can mean major changes in how you look and feel. Loaded with anti-inflammatory, weight-loss-promoting omega-3 fatty acids and depression-fighting vitamin D, this fatty fish can make you look great and feel even better.

15

Honey

While sugar-packed snacks are generally no bargain for your health or appearance, honey is actually pretty sweet for both. Honey’s antibacterial properties can help stave off infection, and researchers at San Diego State University have even found that, despite its sweetness, honey is significantly more weight-neutral and less likely to contribute to fat gain than sucrose-based sweets.

16

Swiss Chard

Enjoy better health with every bite by adding some Swiss chard to your menu. Swiss chard is loaded with immune-boosting nutrients, age-fighting antioxidants, and, like other leafy greens, has been linked to a lower risk of both dementia and weight gain.

17

Oatmeal

Don’t let the low-carb hype fool you: grains can be great for your body, both inside and out. Oatmeal is well-known for its cholesterol-lowering properties, and it’s also a pretty major asset if you’re hoping to live a longer healthier life. In fact, a study conducted at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that individuals who consumed upwards of three servings of whole grains, like oatmeal, each day slashed their risk of death from any cause by 20 percent.

18

Lemon

Lemon may be sour, but this citrus fruit is pretty sweet when it comes to your health. Not only does research suggest that the very scent of lemons can decrease appetite and help spur weight loss, the high vitamin C content in foods like lemons can boost your body’s collagen production, according to research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science.

19

Bell Peppers

Whether you serve them stuffed or cut into strips, bell peppers are an easy way to add serious flavor and health benefits to any meal. Surprising as it may seem, bell peppers actually boast more vitamin C than your average orange, helping you increase your collagen production and improve your immune health. Research published in the British Journal of Community Nursing also reveals that vitamin C can expedite your body’s healing process, helping bumps, bruises, and blemishes disappear as quickly as they came.

20

Steak

Want to feel better in a hurry? Slap some steak on the grill tonight. Steak is packed with alpha lipoic acid, which has been linked to reduced inflammation, improvements in circulation, and slower cellular aging. Bring on the beef! Even if you’re not in the mood for meat, our 29 Best-Ever Proteins for Weight Loss can help you reach your weight loss goals in no time.

21

Kale

Eggs aren’t the only way to get your lutein and zeaxanthin fix; kale is a vegan-friendly source of these powerful nutrients. Not only can this powerhouse duo help reduce your risk of vision problems, researchers at Georgian Court University have found this terrific twosome effective at fighting ultraviolet light-related skin damage.

22

Orange

Snack on some satisfying citrus and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier (and hotter) bod. The wealth of vitamin C found in oranges can help boost your collagen production, keeping your skin looking lovely and line-free. Researchers at Sao Paolo State University found that, despite its natural sugar, 100 percent orange juice didn’t even contribute to weight gain in study subjects on a reduced-calorie diet.

23

Almonds

A handful of almonds here and there could be the key to a healthier body. Snacking on almonds has been shown to lower blood pressure, and a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association links almond consumption with reductions in dangerous abdominal fat.

24

Mussels

Make mussels part of your meal plan and you’ll be looking and feeling better before you know it. Low in calories and high in protein, mussels are an easy way to stay satisfied while packing your diet with inflammation-obliterating omega-3s.

25

Blueberries

Want to look and feel amazing? Bring on the blueberries! Not only are blueberries a good source of dementia-fighting anthocyanin pigments, research conducted at Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry reveals that just 12 weeks of blueberry supplementation yielded significant improvements in memory.

26

Pumpkin

Pumpkins are more than just a great Halloween accessory; they’re also a major boon to your health. A rich source of beta-carotene, as well as weight loss-promoting vitamin C and skin-smoothing vitamin E, those pumpkin guts can make you healthy in a heartbeat.

27

Peanuts

Who says you have to give up your favorite childhood snacks just because you’re getting older? In fact, a little peanut butter on your apple or alongside some celery sticks could be the remedy for your skin health woes. The lutein in peanuts has been linked to the retention of skin’s elastin, an essential component in keeping your skin looking firm and wrinkle-free. Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine also reveals that peanut consumption is associated with reduction in heart disease risk, helping you live a longer, healthier life. Peanuts aren’t the only way to enjoy a quick energy boost; our 40 Healthy Snack Ideas To Keep You Slim will have you feeling full and focused in no time.

28

Grapefruit

Grab some grapefruit and you’ll love what you see in the mirror in no time. Antioxidant vitamin C helps fight illness, grapefruit’s lycopene content has been linked to reductions in cancer risk, and researchers at Vanderbilt University have even discovered that drinking grapefruit juice before a meal can aid in weight loss.

29

Turnip Greens

Skip those carb-heavy sides and opt for some turnip greens instead — your body will thank you. Loaded with beta-carotene, fiber, calcium, and vitamin C, these leafy greens can help you maintain a healthy weight, fight infection, and keep your skin smooth.

30

Oolong Tea

Sipping some oolong can turn your complexion from meh to magnificent. Oolong tea is loaded with polyphenols, which can help fight free radical damage, reducing your cancer risk and improving the condition of your skin in the process.

31

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are magic when it comes to your health and overall well-being. Sunlight-grown mushrooms are packed with vitamin D, which has been linked to reduced rates of depression. Researchers at the University of Milan have even found that increasing vitamin D intake in overweight and obese individuals helped them slim down, and that upping the dosage helped them achieve even greater weight loss.

32

Dark Chocolate

Go ahead, give into that chocolate craving once in a while. Dark chocolate has resveratrol in it, helping you fight belly fat and keep your mind sharp, and the cocoa flavonols found in dark chocolate have been linked to a reduced risk of sun damage, according to researchers at the Witten/Herdecke Institute for Experimental Dermatology.

33

Cinnamon

Dust that latte with some cinnamon and enjoy health benefits both inside and out. Research published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine reveals that cinnamon is effective at reducing pain and combatting insulin spikes. A study published in PLoS One even reveals that cinnamon can help fend off cognitive issues later in life. The benefits of spicy food don’t stop at cinnamon; start melting more fat at every meal by adding the 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism to your menu!

34

Coffee

Don’t cut out that morning coffee just yet; it could be helping you look and feel your best. Research published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry reveals that coffee consumption decreased study participants’ risk of depression, and research suggests that the caffeine in that cup of joe can help maintain your skin’s elasticity.

35

Broccoli

Light on calories, but heavy on vitamins, broccoli definitely deserves a spot on your dinner menu. In addition to beautifying, immune-health-supporting vitamins A and C, broccoli is also a vegan-friendly source of iron, which can combat the poor mood and metabolic changes often associated with iron-deficiency anemia.

36

Pomegranate

This antioxidant powerhouse is as tasty as it is good for you. Research suggests that pomegranates can help reduce heart disease risk, improve blood flow, and research conducted at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne have even discovered that the urolithin A packed by pomegranates can increase longevity while fighting cellular aging.

37

Sweet Potato

Bake up some sweet potatoes and enjoy a wealth of benefits for your body, both inside and out. Not only are sweet potatoes an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamin C, their beta-carotene content has been linked to reduced rates of skin aging, helping you maintain that line-free, youthful glow.

38

Brown Rice

Improving your health and appearance is as easy as adding some brown rice to your menu. Brown rice is a good source of heart-healthy whole grains, which have been linked to a reduced risk of premature death. Research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reveals that oral supplementation with B6, like that found in brown rice, even helped study participants enjoy clearer complexions. Need to scratch that carb itch? Our 30 Best & Worst Dry Pastas in America will help you get there in a healthy way.

39

Brussels Sprouts

Get glowing by making Brussels sprouts the star of your next meal. Brussels sprouts are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help you fight sun damage while preventing the loss of elastin in the skin, keeping wrinkles at bay in the process.

40

Romaine Lettuce

Enjoy a satisfying, low-calorie recipe that’s loaded with antioxidants by adding some romaine to your next meal. Romaine lettuce is a great source of vitamins C and B6 and packs more than a day’s worth of eyesight-boosting, healthy-skin-promoting, inflammation-fighting vitamin A per cup.

41

Tomatoes

You say tomato, I say tomahto, but we can all conclusively say that tomatoes have some big benefits for your health and looks. Fighting inflammation, dementia, and skin aging with their beta-carotene and boosting your brainpower with their lycopene content, this is one salad-topper you can’t afford to skip.

42

Cranberries

Cranberries are more than just a great band, they’re also a great food. Packed with resveratrol and vitamin C, these little fruits can help you ward off depression and weight gain in one fell swoop.

43

Guava

Try this tropical fruit on for size when you’re eager to improve your health and look your best. Guava is full of vitamin C and is yet another source of lycopene, an antioxidant that researchers at the University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences have linked to a sharper memory.

44

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe can do wonders for your health. Its high water content can keep your skin hydrated, while its beta-carotene is a great weapon against sun-related skin damage.

45

Yogurt

While fro-yo still won’t earn any accolades for is health benefits, the unsweetened stuff can do some serious cleanup for your health. Live culture yogurt can boost the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut; fortunately, good gut bacteria have been linked to everything from weight loss to a reduction in Alzheimer’s risk. Just as beneficial is the vitamin D found in dairy-based yogurt, which may reduce depression risk and has even been shown to fight acne.

46

Pineapple

Pick up some pineapple and you’ll be looking and feeling better with every bite. Packed with immune-boosting vitamin C and anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain, this is one sweet treat you can feel good about eating.

47

Tuna

Tuck into some tuna and you’ll be healing your body from the inside out. Tuna’s wealth of omega-3s fight inflammation and reduce your heart disease risk. Better yet, researchers at Purdue University have found omega-3s effective at promoting collagen production, keeping your skin soft and ageless.

48

Sprouted Grain Bread

You don’t have to give up grains to enjoy better health. In fact, whole grains may actually be one of the most beneficial foods for your wellness and confidence. Researchers at the University of Oregon have linked whole grain consumption to the production of collagen and elastin, and sprouted grains have increased nutritional bioavailability and are easier to digest than their highly-processed counterparts.

49

Raisin

A little box of raisins can yield big benefits for your health and appearance. Raisins are not only a healthy way to satisfy that craving for less-than-healthy sweet snacks (nice try, cookie dough brownies), they’re also packed with energizing iron and inflammation-fighting resveratrol, which has also been linked to reductions in acne-promoting bacteria by researchers at UCLA.

50

Sauerkraut

More than just a hot dog topping, sauerkraut is a killer way to get your whole body feeling great. Sauerkraut’s probiotic properties can help keep your gut bacteria healthy, which, in turn, can improve the appearance and clarity of your skin, according to a recent Russian study. Getting your gut in great shape is easier than ever with the 20 Best Foods For a Healthy Gut on your menu!

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These Dietitian-Approved Foods May Help You Feel Better When You’re Sick

Now that we’re in the thick of cold and flu season, you’re bound to catch the sniffles or experience a runny nose, no matter how healthy your diet and immune system are. Besides getting plenty of rest and drinking fluids, have you ever heard of the old wives’ tale, “Feed a cold, starve a fever?” Even though the age-old adage has been passed down from generation to generation, it couldn’t be further from the truth. (To be fair, the first half of the popular maxim is pretty accurate, because your body actually needs more calories while you’re sick.)

The last thing you want to do when you have a nasty cold or the stomach flu is to eat, but not replenishing and staying hydrated is a big no-no for your recovery. In other words, skip mom’s advice and don’t starve yourself or a fever. It’s not about how much you eat, but rather what you eat. If you’re experiencing congestion, a sore throat, or stomach pains, try these foods and drinks—your immune system will gladly thank you.

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For a Cold or Flu-like Symptoms

Image zoom Adobe: Christine Han Photography/Stocksy

Hot Beverages

Hot drinks, such as tea, can ease sneezing, sore throats, and fatigue. Tea has natural bacteria-fighting compounds, which help to fight off infections when you’re sick. Not to mention, freshly-brewed tea is a great way to stay hydrated and soothe a sore throat and congestion at the same time.

“Hot beverages such as chamomile tea, ginger tea, and decaf green tea can be soothing for the sinuses and may also help to reduce an upset stomach,” says Jamie Vespa, RD, assistant nutrition editor for Cooking Light. “Add a drizzle of honey and spritz of lemon juice for an extra hit of vitamin C. Also, it’s a great time to try Golden Milk or turmeric tea, as turmeric has natural anti-inflammatory properties.”

Citrus

While glasses of OJ or citrus foods won’t cure the common cold completely, foods high in vitamin C can reduce the severity of your symptoms and lessen the number of days you’re sick. Grapefruit, lemons, oranges, and limes are immune-boosting fruits that contain flavonoids, which aid in improving the overall function of the immune system.

“Vitamin C is important for immune health and may even help clear up your cold faster,” Vespa says. “Choose foods such as bell peppers, citrus, and strawberries, all of which are rich in this nutrient.”

Leafy Greens and Vegetables

Cruciferous veggies, like cabbage, broccoli, kale, and collard greens, have powerful antioxidants to fight off infection. According to Vespa, foods that help reduce inflammation can be helpful when experiencing cold-like symptoms.

“I recommend mushrooms, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, nuts, oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel or tuna), and plenty of fruits,” Vespa says. Mushrooms prolong the life of white blood cells, and white blood cells are the body’s first line of defense when infection strikes. Can’t muster up the energy to cook or munch on veggies? Try sipping them instead.

Fresh-pressed fruit or vegetable juices offer various nutrients and antioxidants to fortify your immune system and keep you from feeling weak if you’re not eating as much.

When you’re under the weather, your stomach probably won’t be up to the task of digesting a juicy burger or a big meal. Yet you need protein to maintain your strength, whether you’re sick or perfectly healthy. No worries! Fulfilling your protein quota is made easier with eggs, which are much easier to digest and cook. Eggs have zinc, a mineral found in many cold medicines and remedies.

Yogurt and Kefir

The common cold’s worst enemy? Probiotics. Both kefir (fermented milk) and yogurt are great sources of probiotics. Vespa says, “It helps to consume probiotics to replenish healthy bacteria in the gut and help reduce inflammation.” Calcium-enriched Greek yogurt is even better, as some brands pack anywhere from 10 to 17 grams of protein per serving.

Sweet Potatoes

An excellent source of vitamin A, sweet potatoes help the body produce more white blood cells to keep cell membranes healthy and protect us against infection and yucky invaders.

Cauliflower

Eating these white stalks a day keeps the cold away. Cauliflower is rich in choline and glutathione, and we need both to fend off germs and viruses, as well as making sure healthy bacteria stays in our gut.

For a Stomach Bug or Nausea

Image zoom Westend61/Getty Images

The BRAT Diet

Sometimes the onslaught of a cold or the flu brings with it stomach aches, or even worse, stomach flu. Vespa suggests the BRAT diet might be your safest bet at settling your tummy.

“For stomach bugs, it’s best to stick with bland foods that are low in both fat and insoluble fiber,” says Vespa. “The BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, is a common go-to menu for the flu or other stomach viruses alike.”

There’s a reason why when you’re feeling queasy you’re often told to grab a ginger ale or ginger tea. Ginger is a natural anti-nauseant, preventing and alleviating gastric illnesses such as constipation, bloating, and vomiting.

For a Sore Throat

Image zoom Caitlin Bensel

Broth-Based Soups

Fortunately for us, chicken noodle soup isn’t a generational myth, and broth-based soups help to relieve a cold and sore throat. Hot broth eases chest congestion, opens up sinus passages, and keeps the nasal cavity moist. Just like hot beverages, warm soups restrict inflammation in the throat and thwart dehydration. Soups also offer bonus vitamins and nutrients when chicken and vegetables are mixed in the stock.

Who says cough drops and warm salt water are the only cure for a scratchy throat? You know that honey is deliciously sweet and elevates the taste of food. But honey is also the perfect ailment for a sore throat. The microbial content of honey kills bacteria at the back of your throat, and when mixed with a warm drink like ginger tea, it becomes the ultimate sore throat and flu remedy.

Popsicles

Resist the urge to not drink liquids when you’re sick. If your throat is too sore to gulp anything down, stave off dehydration with popsicles. These frozen treats will help numb your sore throat and provide the essential nutrients you need to stay energized. Just make sure you’re eating popsicles that are naturally sweetened with fruit juices and not refined sugars.

For a Fever or Diarrhea

Image zoom Getty

Fluids

“It’s very important to stay hydrated, as dehydration can actually cause (or worsen) symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, fatigue and constipation,” Vespa says. “Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine, which acts as a diuretic. If suffering from vomiting, diarrhea, fever or sweating, drink electrolyte replacement beverages such as coconut water or Gatorade.”

It may be hard to keep food down when you’re sick, but it’s important to stay nourished and hydrated. And if you’re not the one doing all the coughing and sneezing, cook these healing recipes for the loved ones who really are.

Not long ago, I swore off my usual staples of whole grains and fresh fruit and tucked into platefuls of fried eggs, bacon and steak. The high-protein, low-carb diet seemed like bliss at first. But within days, I looked pasty and felt sluggish. Today, I know there’s no need for restrictive diets when I can lengthen my life and shed pounds with a variety of nourishing foods. Besides, eating whole grains, fruit, beans and fish makes me feel terrific. “A healthy diet also reduces your odds of developing disease and dying early. It’s as clear as that,” says Katherine Gray-Donald, director of the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at McGill University in Montreal.

If you’re a low-fat fanatic or a no-carb crusader like I was, though, you could be missing out on vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. So, fight those food phobias with these expert-recommended strategies. Just click on the type of eater that most describes you and get great tips on how to add the nutrition you’re missing to your diet. Then, read on to discover what’s really in a serving and how to understand the new nutrition labels.

Produce protester

You think cherry-flavoured gum counts as a fruit. But the World Health Organization recently noted that diets low in real fruit and vegetables are responsible for about 31 per cent of heart disease cases and 19 per cent of gastrointestinal cancers worldwide. Produce gives you the 25 to 35 grams of fibre you need each day, too.

What you need Eight to 10 servings a day of fruit and vegetables

Eat this!
· Fruit after every meal
· V8 or carrot juice daily
· Raw broccoli, carrots and cherry tomatoes, deskside
· Pizza with peppers, mushrooms and spinach
· Frozen vegetables added to stir-fries and pastas

Bar none A cup (250 mL) of raspberries has eight times more fibre (6 g) and 16 times more vitamin C (32 mg) than an apple-raspberry fruit bar.

Think pink Pink grapefruit offers 27 times more vitamin A than white grapefruit.

No-carb crusader

You’ve sworn off bread, pasta and rice even though studies show that eating whole grain foods regularly limits food cravings. Whole grains can also lower your risk of heart disease and breast cancer.

What you need Five to seven servings a day of carbs

Eat this!
· Half a whole grain bagel
· Breakfast cereal with at least four grams of fibre per serving
· Whole grain crackers, such as Wasa or Ryvita, with at least two grams of fibre and less than three grams of fat per 35 grams
· Savoury brown rice or whole wheat pasta salads
· Homemade mini pizza on a whole wheat pita

Snack smart Say no to foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening listed in the ingredients. Over the years, even one gram of trans fat a day can boost heart disease risk by about 20 per cent.

Top pops Popcorn is considered a whole grain. Choose a brand that contains no trans fat, such as Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop.

Low-fat fanatic

You count every gram of fat that passes your lips even though monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help lower bad cholesterol levels, and may also guard against aging and skin and breast cancers.

What you need Three servings a day of heart-healthy fats such as olive, canola and flaxseed oils

Eat this!
· Soft tub margarine made with canola oil and no hydrogenated fat
· Trail mix with walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and dried fruit
· Black olives tossed in salads and pasta
· Popcorn topped with flaxseed oil instead of butter
· Vegetables stir-fried with pasta splashed with canola or olive oil

Like a virgin Light olive oil doesn’t contain less fat—it’s just lighter in colour and flavour. Drizzle greens with extra-virgin olive oil, which has more flavour and heart-protecting monounsaturated fats, instead.

For goodness, bake Use store-bought ground flax meal in place of half the oil or margarine when baking muffins, pancakes or bread. 25 grams of flax meal serves up just 130 calories and 12 grams of mostly unsaturated fat.

No-dairy diva

You prefer pop and juice over milk even though research shows that getting enough calcium helps reduce body fat and protects against heart disease and osteoporosis.

What you need Three to four servings daily of low-fat dairy or calcium-fortified products. (More than half of Canadian women eat fewer than two.)

Eat this!
· A breakfast smoothie with skim milk or yogurt, banana and frozen berries
· A glass of calcium-fortified orange juice with one meal a day
· Skim milk or calcium-fortified silken tofu instead of water in soups and stews
· Slices of low-fat cheddar or partly skimmed mozzarella on whole grain crackers
· A low-fat yogurt or chocolate pudding cup for dessert

Bone up Cream cheese isn’t the best calcium source. You’d need to eat 370 grams—or 25 tablespoons—containing 125 grams of fat, to get the calcium found in 45 grams of Edam or cheddar.

Say cheese Parmesan adds flavour and calcium to pasta dishes. Two tablespoons (30 mL) equals half a serving of calcium with only 58 calories and four grams of fat.

Finicky fish eater

Unless it’s battered and served with fries, you never eat fish. Yet, omega-3 fatty acids in high-fat fish curb your appetite and your risk of heart and Alzheimer’s diseases.

What you need Two servings a week

Eat this!
· Salmon or tuna-salad sandwich
· Savoury anchovies or sardines on whole grain crackers
· Broiled or grilled salmon made from a box of frozen unbreaded fillets
· Niçoise salad with canned albacore tuna
· Smoked salmon tossed in whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce

Batter up Breaded frozen fish from the supermarket is usually pre-fried and high in unhealthy fats. Try dipping fresh or frozen fillets in egg whites and cornmeal for a light and healthy coating.

Cut calories Canned sockeye salmon is swimming with as many omega-3s as rainbow trout, but it’s lower in calories. Try our Effortless Salmon Fettuccine with canned salmon, for example—it’s ready in just 15 minutes.

Meat-free mama

You rarely make room for meat on your plate even though protein-rich foods build muscle. They also contain iron and zinc, minerals that prevent fatigue and fight infections. Many women lack these nutrients.

What you need Two to three servings a day of lean meats and alternatives. (Half of Canadian women don’t get enough.)

Eat this!
· Egg salad, lean ham or sliced turkey breast in a sandwich, wrap or six-inch sub with whole grain bread and mustard instead of mayonnaise
· A scoop of cottage cheese, a large hard-boiled egg or sliced cooked chicken breast on a spinach-and-red pepper salad
· Lean Cuisine frozen entrées with protein and fewer than 10 grams of fat
· A lean beef, chicken or tofu stir-fry with vegetables
· A vegetable, salsa and cheese omelette for a quick protein-rich dinner

Thigh high Skinless chicken legs and thighs have more calories and saturated and total fat than pork tenderloin and certain cuts of lean beef.

Here’s the beef This red meat delivers iron and zinc, and a 3-ounce (85-g) serving of sirloin has just 158 calories and two grams of saturated fat. Our Acton’s Shanghai Noodles recipe with strips of cooked roast beef, for instance, serves up 8.9 grams of protein with just 4.1 grams of fat and 250 calories per serving.

Nut naysayer

You’re too worried about gaining weight to enjoy nuts, even though regularly munching a handful may help prevent heart attacks and keep your appetite in check.

What you need One ounce (28 g) most days

Eat this!
· Peanut butter on whole wheat toast
· Pecans in salads, cereal or yogurt
· Toasted slivered almonds or cashews with green beans or in stir-fries
· Trail mix with almonds, dried fruit and seeds
· Almond butter spread on a bran muffin

Stay regular Skip reduced-fat peanut butters—added sugars make their calorie count equal to regular varieties.

Go nuts Peanuts don’t necessarily pack on pounds, according to a small Purdue University study. Researchers speculate that peanut fats are poorly absorbed by the body.

Anti-bean queen

You think beans are a pain to prepare even though meeting your quota of canned and dried beans helps fight heart disease, diabetes and breast and colon cancers.

What you need Three to five servings a week

Eat this!
· A three-bean salad or tossed salad with chickpeas
· Hearty vegetarian chili
· An Indian chickpea roti or Taco Bell’s Bean Burrito (hold the sour cream)
· Whole grain pita dipped into hummus or black-bean salsa
· Hamburger patties with white and navy beans

Mixed in Discover the dark side. The darker the bean, the higher the antioxidant level, researchers at Michigan State University have concluded.

Grill a better burger Veggie burgers made with soybeans are a tasty and slimming way to get your beans. One Yves Good Veggie Burger contains 109 fewer calories and 12 fewer grams of fat than a regular beef burger.

How to read the new nutrition labels

Most prepackaged foods now feature the Nutrition Facts table—mandatory by 2006—listing calories, fat and thirteen key ingredients. Here’s what you need to look for to make informed food choices:

For more information, scroll over the list of nutrients.

Nutrition Facts
Valeur nutritive

Per 125 mL (87 g) / par 125 mL (87 g)

Amount
revenir
% Daily Value
% valeur quotidien
Calories / Calories 80
Fat / Lipides 0.5 g 1 %
Saturated / saturées 3 g
+ Trans / trans 0 g
0 %
Cholesterol / Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium / sodium 0 mg 0 %
Carbohydrate / Glucides 18 g 6 %
Fibre / Fibres 2 g 8 %
Sugars / Sucres 2 g
Protein / Protéines 3 g
Vitamin A / Vitamine A 2 %
Vitamin C / Vitamine C 10 %
Calcium / Calcium 0 %
Iron / Fer 2 %

what is a serving?

Nutrition
category
One serving Equals
Whole grains Half cup (125 mL) of whole wheat pasta
Nuts One ounce (28 g) of almonds
Fruit and vegetables One cup (250 mL) of dark green salad
Dairy One and a half ounces (50 g) of cheese
Beans Half cup (125 mL) of chickpeas
Protein Three ounces (100 g) of fish, chicken or meat
Heart-healthy fats One tablespoon (15 mL) of olive oil

Happiness diet: Seven foods to boost your mood and make you feel better

Did you know there are some really easy dietary measures you can take to help you feel better mentally?

More and more experts are now coming to realize just how important the bacteria flora in our tummies really is for our overall wellbeing, including our moods and mental health. And so if you are feeling a little down, making sure you eat foods that are good for you can be the first step towards starting to feel better.

“Our gut is considered the ‘second brain,” nutritional therapist Josh Axe told My Domaine recently. “That’s why we often say that we have a ‘gut feeling’ about something. So it stands to reason that the foods we eat play a role in the way we feel.”

What to eat to start feeling happier? These seven are a good place to start:

1. Wild-caught salmon

According to Axe many who suffer from depression tend to have diets that are low in omega-3 fatty acids. so stocking up on these if you are feeling blue can be a very wise move. Omega-3 fatty acids help your brain function properly by promoting communication and reducing inflammation, and are crucial for optimal brain function.

Wild-caught salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, and other good sources are mackerel, chia seeds and egg yolks.

2. Walnuts

Nuts are full of good fats, and walnuts, in particular, are a great, vegan source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eat as a snack, sprinkle over porridge or rost in the oven with a little maple syrup and sea salt – yum!

3. Spinach

Dark, leafy greens, like spinach, are full of folate, and act like a natural anti-stress medication. Other good sources of folate are asparagus, avocado, beets, and broccoli.

For antioxidants, eat: blueberries, goji berries, blackberries, cranberries, and artichokes

4. Blueberries

Antioxidants are vital in keeping our bodies working properly, and blueberries are such a delicious way of making sure you are getting enough of these.

Also, studies have shown that eating sufficient antioxidants significantly reduced sympoms of depression and anxiety in a group of individuals.

Sprinkle them on your morning porridge, make a smoothie with them or what about baking some (healthy) blueberry muffins? Either way, these little berries are a nutritional powerhouse.

5. Coconut oil

Fat is your friend, mamas – the good kind of fat, that is. In fact, healthy fats are linked to higher levels of energy and a better mood due to the vitamins and minerals they contain. Additionally, these foods aid in the prevention of free radical damage related to depression.

Great sources of good fats are coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, as well as avocados and walnuts.

6. Lentils

We need protein to support neurological function and balancing our hormones. “When you don’t eat enough protein, you become fatigued, your immunity weakens, and you experience moodiness,” says Axe. And this is is because the amino acids in these foods aid the body in many of its important processes.

We all know lean meat and organic chicken are good, healthy sources of protein, but for an even better-for-you, vegan option, you can’t beat lentils.

7. Kefir

If you haven’t yet heard how important probiotics are for your gut health, you must have been living under a rock of late. These good bacteria help balance out any bad bacteria in our gut, and, according to Axe, when it comes to warding off depression, these foods give you more energy, support your cognitive function, and promote mental wellness. “

You can take a probiotic supplement, of course, but we are loving kefir, a yogurt-like fermented milk drink that taste perfect in smoothies. You can find it in health food stores or, to a much more reasonable price, in the Polish food section in your local supermarket.

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Healthy Eating

Confused by all the conflicting nutrition advice out there? These simple tips can show you how to plan, enjoy, and stick to a healthy diet.

Eating a healthy diet is not about strict limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health, and boosting your mood.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If you feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there, you’re not alone. It seems that for every expert who tells you a certain food is good for you, you’ll find another saying exactly the opposite. The truth is that while some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood, it’s your overall dietary pattern that is most important. The cornerstone of a healthy diet should be to replace processed food with real food whenever possible. Eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it can make a huge difference to the way you think, look, and feel.

By using these simple tips, you can cut through the confusion and learn how to create—and stick to—a tasty, varied, and nutritious diet that is as good for your mind as it is for your body.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid

The Harvard Healthy Eating Pyramid represents the latest nutritional science. The widest part at the bottom is for things that are most important. The foods at the narrow top are those that should be eaten sparingly, if at all.

The fundamentals of healthy eating

While some extreme diets may suggest otherwise, we all need a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in our diets to sustain a healthy body. You don’t need to eliminate certain categories of food from your diet, but rather select the healthiest options from each category.

Protein gives you the energy to get up and go—and keep going—while also supporting mood and cognitive function. Too much protein can be harmful to people with kidney disease, but the latest research suggests that many of us need more high-quality protein, especially as we age. That doesn’t mean you have to eat more animal products—a variety of plant-based sources of protein each day can ensure your body gets all the essential protein it needs. Learn more “

Fat. Not all fat is the same. While bad fats can wreck your diet and increase your risk of certain diseases, good fats protect your brain and heart. In fact, healthy fats—such as omega-3s—are vital to your physical and emotional health. Including more healthy fat in your diet can help improve your mood, boost your well-being, and even trim your waistline. Learn more “

Fiber. Eating foods high in dietary fiber (grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans) can help you stay regular and lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also improve your skin and even help you to lose weight. Learn more “

Calcium. As well as leading to osteoporosis, not getting enough calcium in your diet can also contribute to anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties. Whatever your age or gender, it’s vital to include calcium-rich foods in your diet, limit those that deplete calcium, and get enough magnesium and vitamins D and K to help calcium do its job. Learn more “

Carbohydrates are one of your body’s main sources of energy. But most should come from complex, unrefined carbs (vegetables, whole grains, fruit) rather than sugars and refined carbs. Cutting back on white bread, pastries, starches, and sugar can prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar, fluctuations in mood and energy, and a build-up of fat, especially around your waistline. Learn more “

Making the switch to a healthy diet

Switching to a healthy diet doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy, and you don’t have to change everything all at once—that usually only leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan.

A better approach is to make a few small changes at a time. Keeping your goals modest can help you achieve more in the long term without feeling deprived or overwhelmed by a major diet overhaul. Think of planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps—like adding a salad to your diet once a day. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices.

Setting yourself up for success

To set yourself up for success, try to keep things simple. Eating a healthier diet doesn’t have to be complicated. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories, for example, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. Focus on avoiding packaged and processed foods and opting for more fresh ingredients whenever possible.

Prepare more of your own meals. Cooking more meals at home can help you take charge of what you’re eating and better monitor exactly what goes into your food. You’ll eat fewer calories and avoid the chemical additives, added sugar, and unhealthy fats of packaged and takeout foods that can leave you feeling tired, bloated, and irritable, and exacerbate symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety.

Make the right changes. When cutting back on unhealthy foods in your diet, it’s important to replace them with healthy alternatives. Replacing dangerous trans fats with healthy fats (such as switching fried chicken for grilled salmon) will make a positive difference to your health. Switching animal fats for refined carbohydrates, though (such as switching your breakfast bacon for a donut), won’t lower your risk for heart disease or improve your mood.

Read the labels. It’s important to be aware of what’s in your food as manufacturers often hide large amounts of sugar or unhealthy fats in packaged food, even food claiming to be healthy.

Focus on how you feel after eating. This will help foster healthy new habits and tastes. The healthier the food you eat, the better you’ll feel after a meal. The more junk food you eat, the more likely you are to feel uncomfortable, nauseous, or drained of energy.

Drink plenty of water. Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many of us go through life dehydrated—causing tiredness, low energy, and headaches. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices.

Moderation: important to any healthy diet

What is moderation? In essence, it means eating only as much food as your body needs. You should feel satisfied at the end of a meal, but not stuffed. For many of us, moderation means eating less than we do now. But it doesn’t mean eliminating the foods you love. Eating bacon for breakfast once a week, for example, could be considered moderation if you follow it with a healthy lunch and dinner—but not if you follow it with a box of donuts and a sausage pizza.

Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods, it’s natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. Start by reducing portion sizes of unhealthy foods and not eating them as often. As you reduce your intake of unhealthy foods, you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.

Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and don’t order supersized anything. At home, visual cues can help with portion sizes. Your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards and half a cup of mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of a traditional light bulb. By serving your meals on smaller plates or in bowls, you can trick your brain into thinking it’s a larger portion. If you don’t feel satisfied at the end of a meal, add more leafy greens or round off the meal with fruit.

Take your time. It’s important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down in between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly and stop eating before you feel full.

Eat with others whenever possible. Eating alone, especially in front of the TV or computer, often leads to mindless overeating.

Limit snack foods in the home. Be careful about the foods you keep at hand. It’s more challenging to eat in moderation if you have unhealthy snacks and treats at the ready. Instead, surround yourself with healthy choices and when you’re ready to reward yourself with a special treat, go out and get it then.

Control emotional eating. We don’t always eat just to satisfy hunger. Many of us also turn to food to relieve stress or cope with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, loneliness, or boredom. But by learning healthier ways to manage stress and emotions, you can regain control over the food you eat and your feelings.

It’s not just what you eat, but when you eat

Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, while eating small, healthy meals keeps your energy up all day.

Avoid eating late at night. Try to eat dinner earlier and fast for 14-16 hours until breakfast the next morning. Studies suggest that eating only when you’re most active and giving your digestive system a long break each day may help to regulate weight.

Add more fruit and vegetables to your diet

Fruit and vegetables are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Focus on eating the recommended daily amount of at least five servings of fruit and vegetables and it will naturally fill you up and help you cut back on unhealthy foods. A serving is half a cup of raw fruit or veg or a small apple or banana, for example. Most of us need to double the amount we currently eat.

To increase your intake:

  • Add antioxidant-rich berries to your favorite breakfast cereal
  • Eat a medley of sweet fruit—oranges, mangos, pineapple, grapes—for dessert
  • Swap your usual rice or pasta side dish for a colorful salad
  • Instead of eating processed snack foods, snack on vegetables such as carrots, snow peas, or cherry tomatoes along with a spicy hummus dip or peanut butter

How to make vegetables tasty

While plain salads and steamed veggies can quickly become bland, there are plenty of ways to add taste to your vegetable dishes.

Add color. Not only do brighter, deeper colored vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but they can vary the flavor and make meals more visually appealing. Add color using fresh or sundried tomatoes, glazed carrots or beets, roasted red cabbage wedges, yellow squash, or sweet, colorful peppers.

Liven up salad greens. Branch out beyond lettuce. Kale, arugula, spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are all packed with nutrients. To add flavor to your salad greens, try drizzling with olive oil, adding a spicy dressing, or sprinkling with almond slices, chickpeas, a little bacon, parmesan, or goat cheese.

Satisfy your sweet tooth. Naturally sweet vegetables—such as carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, bell peppers, and squash—add sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for added sugar. Add them to soups, stews, or pasta sauces for a satisfying sweet kick.

Cook green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus in new ways. Instead of boiling or steaming these healthy sides, try grilling, roasting, or pan frying them with chili flakes, garlic, shallots, mushrooms, or onion. Or marinate in tangy lemon or lime before cooking.

Plan quick and easy meals ahead

Healthy eating starts with great planning. You will have won half the healthy diet battle if you have a well-stocked kitchen, a stash of quick and easy recipes, and plenty of healthy snacks.

Plan your meals by the week or even the month

One of the best ways to have a healthy diet is to prepare your own food and eat in regularly. Pick a few healthy recipes that you and your family like and build a meal schedule around them. If you have three or four meals planned per week and eat leftovers on the other nights, you will be much farther ahead than if you are eating out or having frozen dinners most nights.

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store

In general, healthy eating ingredients are found around the outer edges of most grocery stores, while the center aisles are filled with processed and packaged foods that aren’t good for you. Shop the perimeter of the store for most of your groceries (fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, whole grain breads and dairy products), add a few things from the freezer section (frozen fruits and vegetables), and visit the aisles for spices, oils, and whole grains (like rolled oats, brown rice, whole wheat pasta).

Cook when you can

Try to cook one or both weekend days or on a weekday evening and make extra to freeze or set aside for another night. Cooking ahead saves time and money, and it is gratifying to know that you have a home cooked meal waiting to be eaten.

Challenge yourself to come up with two or three dinners that can be put together without going to the store—utilizing things in your pantry, freezer, and spice rack. A delicious dinner of whole grain pasta with a quick tomato sauce or a quick and easy black bean quesadilla on a whole wheat flour tortilla (among endless other recipes) could act as your go-to meal when you are just too busy to shop or cook.

Eating clean is a nutrition term I can live with. Although no one definition exists, the generally accepted principles are simple and effective: Eat more whole, real foods including lean protein, healthy fats and unrefined whole grains — and eat less processed and packaged foods, added sugar and unhealthy fats.

Many of us need more guidelines if we really want to lose weight, but these basic parameters are a very good place to start. And, guess what? You can get started today and you just may see results by tomorrow.

Glowing skin is also a benefit of making a few changes to your diet.

Along with improved sleep and more energy, here’s what you may experience:

1. Sharper brain function

Ditching the soda and diet soda and getting your green and black tea on will provide you with an amino acid called L-theanine, which is a brain booster and will help calm your mind and aid in focus.

RELATED: How a daily cup of tea may improve your health

Antioxidant-rich blueberries should take the place of your afternoon Swedish Fish habit if you want to keep your brain young and sharp and protected from oxidative damage.

2. Increased satiety

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Foods like bagels, chocolate chip muffins and sugary cereals (translation: not clean eating) can increase inflammation in the body and won’t even keep you full. There is a reason you keep wanting just one more bite. These processed, high-sugar foods don’t provide satiety.

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A less processed morning option such as oatmeal contains a soluble fiber called beta glucan. This slow-digesting fiber will keep you fuller for longer, preventing overeating, while it also may improve blood cholesterol and overall heart health. Add an egg to this breakfast for further satiety. Eggs provide about six grams of protein helping you to stay satisfied until your next clean meal.

At snack time, swap out processed snack bars or pretzels for nuts or olives because the healthy fat will also keep you more satisfied.

RELATED: 9 foods that boost your metabolism

3. Less inflammation

Most clean foods provide antioxidants, compounds that work to lessen inflammation in your body.

Inflammation arises in response to everything from the environment to stress to even the foods we eat. When you choose to eat that fried chicken sandwich instead the kale salad during your lunch break, you may be adding to chronic inflammation inside your body, which can lead to heart disease, cancer and a whole host of unhealthy conditions. Getting your fat from healthy fats like avocado and nuts will help lessen oxidative stress in your body.

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4. Improved digestion

Cleaning up your eating habits by adding in dark leafy greens daily will have your digestive system thanking you in possibly just a day’s time.

Spinach, broccoli rabe, kale and Swiss chard are all high in both water volume and fiber, two key components to keeping your GI tract moving. And of course, they are low in calories and packed with antioxidants helping you reap all the other clean eating benefits, from skin health to preventing cancer and promoting weight loss. Some greens such as fennel and dandelion act as diuretics helping to reduce bloat while filling you up at the same time.

RELATED: 7 steps that helped this woman lose 225 pounds at age 63

5. Glowing skin

Fries, soda and chips are notoriously bad for your skin.

Clean foods such as fruits and veggies are famous for giving you a glow and may help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. This is because your favorite produce contains antioxidants such as vitamin C, which helps increase the production of collagen and vitamin A which helps with skin cell turnover.

Hydrating with water, instead soda will also help your skin look better by the morning. I promise.

In the spirit of CARE, let’s start this conversation by having you envision a single cell in your body.

Cells look a lot like a pin cushion. Their surfaces aren’t smooth at all, but rather, are full of individual receptors (the pins). These receptors are critical to influencing how that cell behaves.

Depending on what the receptor communicates to the cell, that cell could start making more of something, it could start making less, it could speed up or slow down – and your overall health, risk of disease, and how you just plain feel that day depends on this activity.

So what determines what the receptor will communicate to the cell?

This includes, but is not limited to, what chemical nestles right onto the top of the receptor or how much of different chemicals are available in your blood.

These chemicals can include good-for-us substances like:

  • nutrients
  • hormones
  • and neurotransmitters

Or they can be not-good-for-us substances like:

  • nicotine
  • excess caffeine and alcohol
  • food additives and colorings (like MSG)
  • or excess sodium or glucose/sugar

Every minute of every day your cells try to make the best decision based on the ‘information’ or tools that you provide them.

Overconsumption, excess intake of food chemicals and drugs, and high stress all contribute to lots of not-good-for-us substances available in the blood. These substances wreak havoc on the information available to those receptors.

The old saying of ‘garbage in, garbage out’ applies here. When you only give your cells garbage to work with, you feel like garbage.

But interestingly, over time you start to build a tolerance to how this dysfunction feels.

In this ironic twist, eating too much and too many chemically-based ‘foods’ actually does make you feel better.

This is no different than a smoker. The first time a smoker puffs on a cigarette, the reaction from the body is severe. There is violent coughing, immediate lightheadedness, some GI discomfort. But by that third or fourth day, those selfless receptors have adapted to being bullied by nicotine nestling right on top of it. Having nicotine there (even though harmful) becomes its new normal. It creates workarounds and compromises ideal functioning, but you now interpret this as ‘feeling good’.

That cigarette no longer makes you cough, it makes you feel pleasure.

Until you remove it…

This picks up the story with our subject of why we temporarily feel worse when starting to eat healthy.

You (meaning your receptors and cells) have adapted to higher amounts of not-good-for-you substances in chemical-based foods and overconsumption. This has become your new normal.

You, in that ironic twist, feel better here.

Until you remove them…

Just like the smoker, your receptors adjusted to dysfunction.

Their normal is now defined by access to these substances. When you remove them, you change the information available to them again altering how each cell responds. Initially, that feels bad – even though it is good.

How long it takes for those receptors and cells (and ultimately you) to recover depends on so many factors (genetics, nutritional status, environment, social and physical stress, how many changes you made at once), but on average in as little as three to four days you will start to feel better from eating healthier.

Let’s Recap

Timeline of what happens and why you feel worse when starting to eat healthy:

  • Removing chemical ‘foods’ and overconsumption means that your cell receptors no longer have access to those not-good-for-you substances.
  • Many of these chemicals stimulated cells (like with MSG) or amplified the releases of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. This alone will affect mood, energy levels, and sleep.
  • Increased circulation from more activity and better hydration (which increases the availability of oxygen and nutrients) combined with the removal of excess chemicals in the blood (like glucose and sodium) can create vascular changes (even if good for you) that can result in a headache.
  • Healthy changes also decrease the total stress burden on the body. Your efforts to increase physical activity and decrease chemicals, including caffeine and alcohol, will result in decreased circulating stress hormones, like cortisol, which is a natural steroid that has anti-inflammatory properties (just like the prescription). Short-term, good for us. Long-term, bad for us. Bringing stress hormone levels down will initially alter the immune system which you could experience as getting a cold or just feeling lousy. This happens often when people go on vacation – they finally reduce their stress levels and then get sick right away.
    • The liver, kidneys, and skin are all involved in and responsible for the natural detoxification of all these changes to hormone levels (like cortisol and insulin) and other chemicals. And as this post by the American Acne Foundation points out, the liver, kidneys, and skin respond leading to breakouts or skin rashes, which can be assuaged with creams for a time.

The Great News

The great news with lifestyle changes, like increased nutrient-richness, increased activity, and increased stress management and recovery, is that these changes are the foundation needed to make more challenging healthy changes (like quitting smoking). Our cells thrive quickly when we remove chemicals and give them tools to heal versus harm.

  • Receptors will become more sensitive to things like insulin, sodium, and hormones which over time will regulate blood glucose and blood pressure.
  • As blood glucose is better regulated and consumption moderated, metabolism gets more efficient at utilizing stored adipose tissue (fat) for energy.
  • The decreased burden on the liver results in better regulation of lipids (like cholesterol) and sex hormones.
  • The increased circulation and vascular changes move from causing headaches to decreasing risk of heart disease and improving cognition.

So how do you make it through (temporarily) feeling worse to feeling good?

Use this time to increase awareness of your body; increase mindfulness.

  • Continue eliminating the not-good-for-you substances
  • Continue eating a nutrient-rich, whole foods, produce-based diet – one balanced and portioned to support your health goals; get help from a program if you need guidance (our free program option introduces a balanced plate and therapeutic checklist to help you get started)
  • Continue moving
  • Stay hydrated
  • Have a plan so you can consistently do these things; find internal versus external motivation this time
  • Spend time finding a lifestyle that really fits you like a glove this time; get off the exhausting hamster wheel of ‘being on a diet’ or ‘being off a diet’; there really is a middle ground to be enjoyed

Appreciate the calming feeling of these lifestyle choices that we often misinterpret as sluggish or low energy. We are a society that spends billions of dollars to override our natural cues to rest. Our right hand spends billions for stimulants while our left spends billions for relaxation and sleep aides. We can’t even distinguish between the two anymore when we remove all chemicals and overconsumption.

This time, appreciate the calm.

Appreciate that you feel sluggish because your body is finally putting resources into healing. Finally, let your body rest and heal. You will be rewarded with greater strength than you thought possible.

Warmly,

Teri Rose, CARE Nutritionist and Program Director

How did Vinita Bali, MD at Britannia, prove sceptics wrong with ‘Eat Healthy Think Better’ campaign

Almost seven years ago, Vinita Bali met Brand Equityto discuss her game plan for Britannia. She’d taken charge after several years of working overseas for Coca-Cola, and at marketing consultancy the Zyman Group. In 2005, brand Britannia had lost some of its mojo, being trounced when it came to exciting products by new and nimble competitors like ITC’s Sunfeast. Bali admitted candidly at the time, “This was a company that was very innovative. For the last three or four years, it did not use this ability. We are beginning to use that muscle again.” Cut to the present and the competitive scenario is if anything, even more challenging. Homegrown rivals like Parle, ITC and Priya Gold are still going strong. Brands like Kraft’s Oreo and United Biscuits McVitie’s which used to be mainstays of ‘import’ food stores are now starting to make their presence felt across the retail spectrum. Against this backdrop Britannia has clocked fairly impressive growth. If it had a turnover of Rs 1,666 crore in 2004, its total revenue at the close of financial year 2012 was Rs 4,974.19 crore — a three-fold increase over eight years.

Brands in the health and nutrition space have been among the growth drivers according to Britannia. That the charge would be driven in part by Milk Bikis and Marie Gold comes as no surprise. Both brands have been in the Britannia stable for decades. Industry sources claim they command a share of approximately 55% and 50% respectively in their categories. The dark horse is NutriChoice, which apparently accounts for nearly 75% of an admittedly small but rapidly growing health snacks niche. The change started according to Bali when the management looked at
Britannia’s tagline Swasth Khao, Tanman Jagao aka Eat Healthy, Think Better. It had been conceived of in 1997 by former Britannia managing director and CEO Sunil Alagh. Speaking of its genesis, Alagh says it lay in representing a change from a mere biscuit company to a food company which included breads, cakes, cheese and milk. He elaborates, “It also needed to represent a major thrust in the mass glucose biscuit market, with Tiger. A contemporary image was essential, so I appealed to the Indian psyche to create a distinct position which not only played on taste ie a healthy stomach leads to better thinking.
It was a combination of mind and body.” The other option was ‘Eat Heathy, Live Better’, but ‘Think Better’ finally made the cut since “living” was more ostentatious and related to the body as opposed to “thinking” which connected to the mind. Says Alagh, “It worked beautifully and propelled Britannia to the Number 1 food brand in India through Tiger and its new positioning.” While many new bosses have been known to jettison slogans and marketing concepts from a previous regime, Bali believed the tagline was in fact being underutilised: “The light bulb went off when we said we have a fabulous slogan but it’s just a slogan so far. For us the challenge was how do we convert “swasth khao” to a brand credo that gets activated?”
Britannia’s initial approach to health under Bali was radically different. Plans were afoot for the national rollout of a milk based drink named Anlene. Initially launched in the East, it was aimed specifically at women, to combat osteoporosis. However Anlene didn’t go beyond the test market stage. Team Britannia began to learn that while health concerns were on the rise, the Indian consumer’s mindspace was dominated by more common killers: diabetes and heart disease. Explaining a problem and then offering a solution was a task that the biscuit giant did not feel equal to. Says Bali, “When you ask ‘am I using the assets I have in the most effective and productive manner?’ you get to where we got to. We opted to use what we have whether a brand, consumer insight or way to market and suffuse that with health propositions.”
Britannia’s initial approach to health under Bali was radically different. Plans were afoot for the national rollout of a milk based drink named Anlene. Initially launched in the East, it was aimed specifically at women, to combat osteoporosis. However Anlene didn’t go beyond the test market stage. Team Britannia began to learn that while health concerns were on the rise, the Indian consumer’s mindspace was dominated by more common killers: diabetes and heart disease. Explaining a problem and then offering a solution was a task that the biscuit giant did not feel equal to. Says Bali, “When you ask ‘am I using the assets I have in the most effective and productive manner?’ you get to where we got to. We opted to use what we have whether a brand, consumer insight or way to market and suffuse that with health propositions.”
An obvious option to build the health platform was NutriChoice. It was an umbrella brand started long before Bali came on board to bunch niche products together and thus save on ad budgets. Its main representation was a staid thin arrowroot biscuit sold primarily in the east. However the team at Britannia decided to build on the health positioning inherent in the brand name. Says Bali, “We figured there was something with this brand and something happening with consumers who were seeking products that are healthier.” The initial option was to create sugar free biscuits for diabetics. However as Bali points out, “As we delved deeper, we found what they are seeking is not just sugar free but something that keeps sugar levels constant.”

It made Britannia look afresh at ingredients like oats and ragi, known to have a low glycaemic index. It spurred the creation of a more sachet based package design as opposed to the large boxes that NutriChoice used to be sold in, to make it easy to transport and keep within reach. The main lesson according to Bali is “The building of a brand goes far beyond the most obvious.” The brand currently has multigrain, digestive and oats based variants, besides spinning off into finger food with NutriChoice Thins and the general mixture or pouring range with NutriChoice Multigrain Roasty.

After a project with the UN as a part of the World Food Programme, during which Britannia worked to the recipe of a calorie and nutrition dense biscuit, Bali decided on starting the Britannia Nutrition Foundation. She says, “I hate the word social in CSR; it simply has to be corporate responsibility. We tried to build this into our business model so it’s not just a question of writing a cheque which stops when the funds stop.” Britannia has fortified its regular portfolio of biscuits with iron in its flagship Tiger brand, and extended iron and vitamins to brands like Milk Bikis, Marie and even bread. It also focussed on “removing the bad while adding the good”, as Bali puts it. The company claims a lead among food brands in India for raising awareness about and eliminating trans fats from its recipes.

Your environment has an incredible ability to shape your behavior.

I have written previously about choice architecture and environment design, both of which are focused on the idea that, “By making small changes to the physical environment around you, it can become much easier to stick to good habits.”

And while the research studies I have shared in those articles are interesting, I thought it might be useful to list some practical ways to apply environment design to your world and make it easier to live a healthy, happy, and adventurous life.

With that in mind, here are 10 simple strategies for designing your environment to eat healthy without thinking and spend more of your time and energy on doing something awesome.

Keep in mind, these ideas are just a start. You can apply these concepts for designing your environment and creating better “choice architecture” to almost any habit or behavior.

How to Eat Healthy Without Thinking

Before we begin, let’s give credit to the researcher behind many of these ideas. Brian Wansink is a professor at Cornell University and he has completed a variety of studies on how your environment shapes your eating decisions. Many of the ideas below come from his popular book, Mindless Eating (audiobook).

1. Use smaller plates. Bigger plates mean bigger portions. And that means you eat more. According to a study conducted by Wansink and his research team, if you made a simple change and served your dinner on 10-inch plates instead of a 12-inch plate, you would eat 22% less food over the course of the next year.

On a related note, if you’re thinking “I’ll just put less food on my plate” … it’s not that simple. The picture below explains why. When you eat a small portion off of a large plate, your mind feels unsatisfied. Meanwhile, the same portion will feel more filling when eaten off of a small plate. The circles in the image below are the same size, but your brain (and stomach) doesn’t view them that way.

This image shows how small portion sizes can look filling on a small plate, but sparse on a large plate.

2. Make water more readily available. Most of us mindlessly take a swig of soda or a sip of coffee as we do other tasks. Try this instead: buy a large bottle water and set it somewhere close to you throughout your day. You’ll find that if it’s sitting next to you, you’ll often opt for water instead and avoid less healthy drink options naturally.

Note: I love this Vapur water bottle because it holds a good amount of water and folds up small enough to fit in a backpack, purse, or pocket. It’s perfect for travel too.

3. Want to drink less alcohol or soda? Use tall, slender glasses instead of short, fat ones.

Take a look at the image below. Is the horizontal or vertical line longer?

Like the lines in this photo, vertical glasses will look bigger than horizontal ones and will therefore naturally help you drink less.

As it turns out, both lines are the same length, but our brain has a tendency to overestimate vertical lines. In other words, taller drinks look bigger to our eyes than round, horizontal mugs do. And because height makes things look bigger than width, you’ll actually drink less from taller glasses. In fact, you will typically drink about 20% less from a tall, slender glass than you would from a short, fat glass. (Hat tip to Darya Pino for originally sharing this image and idea.)

4. Use plates that have a high contrast color with your food. As I mentioned in this article, when the color of your plate matches the color of your food, you naturally serve yourself more because your brain has trouble distinguishing the portion size from the plate. Because of this, dark green and dark blue make great plate colors because they contrast with light foods like pasta and potatoes (which means you’re likely to serve less of them), but don’t contrast very much with leafy greens and vegetables (which means you’re likely to put more of them on your plate).

5. Display healthy foods in a prominent place. For example, you could place a bowl of fruits or nuts near the front door or somewhere else that you pass by before you leave the house. When you’re hungry and in a rush, you are more likely to grab the first thing you see.

6. Wrap unhealthy foods in tin foil. Wrap healthy foods in plastic wrap. The old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” turns out to have some truth to it. Eating isn’t just a physical event, but also an emotional one. Your mind often determines what it wants to eat based on what your eyes see. Thus, if you hide unhealthy foods by wrapping them up or tucking them away in less prominent places, then you are less likely to eat them.

7. Keep healthy foods in larger packages and containers, and unhealthy foods in smaller ones. Big boxes and containers tend to catch your eye more, take up space in your kitchen and pantry, and otherwise get in your way. As a result, you’re more likely to notice them and eat them. Meanwhile, smaller items can hide in your kitchen for months. (Just take a look at what you have lying around right now. It’s probably small cans and containers.)

Bonus tip: if you buy a large box of something unhealthy, you can re-package it into smaller Ziploc bags or containers, which should make it less likely that you’ll binge and eat a lot at once.

8. Serve meals by using the “half plate” rule. You can design your eating environment as well. When you serve yourself dinner, start by making half of your plate fruits or vegetables. Then, fill the rest of the dish based on that constraint.

9. Use the “Outer Ring” strategy to buy healthier foods. The concept is simple: when you go grocery shopping, don’t walk down the aisles. Only shop on the outer perimeter of the store. This is usually where the healthy food lives: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs, and nuts. If you only shop on the outer ring, then you’re more likely to buy healthy foods. And that, of course, means you’re more likely to eat healthy foods when you get home.

10. And for the tenth strategy, let’s apply these concepts to some other areas of life…

Applying Environment Design to the Rest of Your Life

When you really break down each of these strategies, you’ll see that each one is a small tweak that puts more steps between you and the bad behaviors and fewer steps between you and the good behaviors.

For example…

  • Wrapping unhealthy foods in tin foil adds another step. You have to see the dish, then open it to see what is inside, then decide to eat it. (Rather than just spotting some leftovers in plastic wrap and grabbing them.)
  • Using small plates adds another step between you and eating more. If you want more, you have to go back for seconds and fill up again.

You can take this same approach to almost anything in life. If you want to make a bad behavior more difficult, then increase the number of steps between you and the behavior.

Meanwhile, if you want to make a good behavior easier, reduce the number of steps between you and the behavior. For example, if you want to make it easier to go for a run then lay out your shoes and running gear the night before you exercise. One less step between you and your workout.

How to Eat Healthy

It’s easier than you think to start eating healthy! Take small steps each week to improve your nutrition and move toward a healthier you.

Eight Healthy Eating Goals

Small changes can make a big difference to your health. Try incorporating at least six of the eight goals below into your diet. Commit to incorporating one new healthy eating goal each week over the next six weeks. You can track your progress through PALA+.

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.

Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk: Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.

Choose a variety of lean protein foods: Meat, poultry, seafood, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group. Select leaner cuts of ground beef (where the label says 90% lean or higher), turkey breast, or chicken breast.

Compare sodium in foods: Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”

Drink water instead of sugary drinks: Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets. Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or watermelon or a splash of 100% juice to your glass of water if you want some flavor.

Eat some seafood: Seafood includes fish (such as salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (such as crab, mussels, and oysters). Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fat). Adults should try to eat at least eight ounces a week of a variety of seafood. Children can eat smaller amounts of seafood, too.

Cut back on solid fats: Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies, and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine, or shortening); pizza; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.

Use the MyPlate Icon to make sure your meal is balanced and nutritious.

Try This!

Emphasis on Fruits & Veggies

  • Mix vegetables into your go-to dishes. Try spinach with pasta or peppers in tacos.
  • Use fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables. They all offer the same great nutrients. Just be sure to watch the sodium on canned vegetables and look for fruits packed in water or 100% juice (not syrup).
  • Pack your child’s lunch bag with fruits and veggies: sliced apples, a banana, or carrot sticks are all healthy options.

Healthy Snacks

  • For a handy snack, keep cut-up fruits and vegetables like carrots, peppers, or orange slices in the refrigerator.
  • Teach children the difference between everyday snacks, such as fruits and veggies, and occasional snacks, such as cookies or other sweets.
  • Make water a staple of snack time. Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or a splash of 100% juice to your water for a little flavor.
  • Swap out your cookie jar for a basket filled with fresh fruit.

Ways to Reduce Fat, Salt, and Sugar

  • Choose baked or grilled food instead of fried when you’re eating out and implement this at home, too.
  • Make water and fat-free or low-fat milk your go-to drinks instead of soda or sweetened beverages.
  • Serve fruits as everyday desserts-like baked apples and pears or a fruit salad.
  • Read labels on packaged ingredients to find foods lower in sodium.
  • Skip adding salt when cooking; instead use herbs and spices to add flavor.

Controlling Portion Size

  • Use smaller plates to control portion sizes.
  • Don’t clean your plate or bowl if you’re full, instead save leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
  • Portion sizes depend on the age, gender, and activity level of the individual.

Healthy Eating in School

  • Bring healthy snacks into your child’s classroom for birthday parties and celebrations, instead of providing sugary treats.
  • Pack healthy lunches for your children including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Schools across the nation are making their lunch rooms healthier places. Learn more with the Chefs Move to Schools initiative-where chefs work with local schools to add flavorful, healthy meals to menus.

Tips for Balancing Calories to Manage Weight

Following the eight healthy eating goals above can help your body get the nutrients it needs. Here are some other tips to keep in mind if you also are trying to manage your weight.

  • Balance calories: Find out how many calories you need for a day as a first step in managing your weight. Go to ChooseMyPlate.gov to find your calorie level. To help plan, analyze, and track your diet and physical activity, use the SuperTracker.
  • Enjoy your food, but eat less: Take the time to fully enjoy your food as you eat it. Eating too fast or when your attention is elsewhere may lead to eating too many calories. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues before, during, and after meals. Use them to recognize when to eat and when you’ve had enough.
  • Watch your portion sizes: Check to see what the recommended portion sizes of foods you eat looks like in the bowls, plates, and glasses you use at home. When dining out avoid “supersizing” your meal or buying “combo” meal deals that often include large-size menu items. Choose small-size items instead or ask for a take home bag and wrap up half of your meal to take home before you even start to eat.
  • Be physically active: Being physically active can help you manage your weight. Youth (6-17 years old) need to be active for at least 60 minutes a day (or 12,000 steps). Adults (18 and older) need to be active for at least 30 minutes (or 8,500 steps) a day. Learn more about being active.

Food Safety

When cooking, keep these tips in mind to keep your family safe from food poisoning.

  • Clean: Wash hands, utensils, and cutting boards before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • Separate: Keep raw meat and poultry apart from foods that won’t be cooked.
  • Cook: Use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if food is cooked safely by how it looks.
  • Chill: Chill leftovers and takeout foods within two hours and keep the refrigerator at 40°F or below.
  • Rinse: Rinse fruits and vegetables (even those with skins or rinds that are not eaten) with tap water.

For more food safety tips, visit FoodSafety.gov.

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