By Kelly Barrett, DPT
Patients often ask me about nutrition and how to make healthier food choices. Having gone to a nutritionist myself several years ago, I learned how to make better decisions when preparing meals. There are plenty of foods out there that are not only good for you, but taste good too. Some simple substitutions will not only cut calories, but also make you feel full for longer periods of time. Meals that are rich in protein and fiber will ultimately reduce or eliminate snacking in between meals and later at night before you go to bed.
Here are some ideas for meals throughout the day:
Breakfast: It’s okay to have your morning coffee, but try to cut out or reduce the cream and/or sugar that you add to it. Research shows that this addition to your daily coffee can make someone gain about 10 pounds in one year. Try skim or 1% milk instead. Kellogg’s Bran Buds cereal, Van’s multi-grain waffles, or Fiber One breakfast bars taste great with fruit in the morning. Low in calories, fantastic in taste.
Lunch: Aim to eat 20grams of protein midday. If you’re at work, bring yogurt with you. Greek yogurt is packed with protein and is only about 150 calories for 6oz. Tuna is another good option, and tastes great on Fiber One cinnamon bread. Some people think that bread is “bad” and get hung up on diets that eliminate carbohydrates. This isn’t necessarily the case. While bread should be limited, it should not be eradicated. Substituting wheat/multigrain bread for white bread will save calories and fill you up. If you’re at home for lunch, make an omelet! Instead of cooking oil, spray a frying pan with cooking spray. Using egg beaters instead of eggs will cut more than 100 calories and they have no cholesterol. Egg whites seasoned with garlic or onion powder will keep you full for hours.
Dinner: Try to focus on lean meats or fish. Season chicken and roast beef with herbs in an effort to reduce salt intake. Make a salad and have light dressing. The thinner the dressing, the less you need to cover a salad. If you’re in the mood for a fiesta, use ground beef that’s 90% lean or ground turkey to make tacos. Go light on the cheese, and add freshly cut tomatoes for salsa.
Snack: Let’s face it: everyone’s got a sweet tooth. A suggestion for a snack would be a bowlful of fruit with a handful of trail mix. Nuts are a great source of protein and the little bit of chocolate will likely satisfy you. If you’ve never heard of Vitatops, I absolutely recommend you try them. They’re found in the health food aisle at the grocery store in the freezer. Heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds, and it tastes just like a brownie. 100 calories, 9g of fiber, and you’d never know the difference.
Next, do your best to drink water with every meal. Try to rotate your foods so your body doesn’t “expect” the same thing for lunch, dinner, etc. every day. You can always keep a food diary to help plan your meals for the day and/or week. This will help keep you honest and you can estimate your daily caloric intake. If you feel like you’re slipping from your diet or need encouragement, talk to someone. Nutritionists are there to help you. They won’t judge you, they’ve got great food ideas, and ultimately WANT you to be healthy.
Small modifications to your eating habits can go a long way. If you’ve got knee or hip arthritis, these simple substitutions will help you shed pounds so you’re putting less stress on your joints. Less stress = less pain = increased exercise tolerance = more weight loss = LONGER LIFE.
If you find yourself out with friends at a restaurant who are all ordering greasy, fatty food and sugar-filled margaritas, order from the low calorie menu. Don’t be afraid to ask for it; lots of restaurants have them now.
And finally, don’t feel bad because you’re on a “diet.” Feel GOOD because eating healthily is your *LIFESTYLE*.
Dr. Barrett is a Physical Therapist
Some of the food brands discussed in this blog can be found here:
http://www.vitalicious.com/ – Vitatops…all different flavors!
http://www.vansfoods.com/ – multigrain waffles, multigrain French toast, multigrain pancakes
http://www.fiberone.com/ – breakfast bars