Here are 10 tips for healthy food choices in the new year. It’s easy to incorporate better eating habits when you know what to look for. Read on for some tips below.
Tips to make smarter food choices
Eating healthier this year doesn’t mean you have to completely change your life, or even go on a “diet.” It simply means that you decide to make some smarter choices when you shop at the grocery store, and follow a few “tricks” to help train your brain.
I’ll never give up my party food appetizers or occasional desserts, but I am trying to get back on track with better eating habits.
For years we followed a streamlined meal plan of lean proteins, lots of steamed vegetables & salads, and whole grains. We exercised and followed this eating plan 5 days a week.
On weekends we ate whatever we wanted because we were usually hosting parties and entertaining. And we were still in the best shape of our lives!
You don’t have to change everything over night. Make these informed choices during your shopping trip for the week ahead.
Think about the variety of foods you CAN eat rather than what you can’t eat. Variety is the key to a healthy balanced diet.
- Choose high fiber foods. Eat all the vegetables you want!
- Eat lean proteins, and plant-based proteins like beans & lentils.
- Incorporate whole wheat and grains rather than white versions.
- Add low fat dairy, and almond milk or soy milk.
- Turn traditional fatty dishes into lighter versions like my baked spaghetti made healthier.
Choosing colorful foods is a great way to let your eye guide you. The brighter foods are in color, the more nutritiously dense they are.
- Dark green – kale, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, bell peppers
- Bright red – strawberries, raspberries, cherries, tomatoes, red peppers
- Dark blue or purple – blackberries, blueberries, beets
- Bright yellow or orange – peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes
Watch portion size
Use dessert or salad plates to portion meals instead of using full size dinner plates. This tricks the brain into thinking you’re eating more than you are because the plate is full.
It’s no secret we tend to fill up a plate no matter what size it is. So stay smart and keep it smaller.
Eat more plant based
Incorporate more vegetarian meals into your weekly rotation. Vegan and vegetarian power bowls are perfect for that!
Build a base mixture of whole grains like quinoa and whole grain barley. Add leafy greens like kale, chard and spinach. Then add proteins like beans, nuts, or lentils.
Get sneaky with fruits and vegetables
Sneak in some fruits by drinking an easy homemade smoothie.
I’ve been making these healthy smoothies since I got pregnant the first time. They’re full of flavor and if you use skim milk there’s no fat. Make them with frozen mixed berries or peaches.
Add flavor with seasoning instead of “bad” fat
Experiment with exotic seasonings to add flavor, and use olive oil instead of using butter.
The rest of the world is on to something as most other countries incorporate extra virgin olive oil into their normal meal plan. You can flavor it with herbs if you like, and combine it with balsamic vinegar for salads and bread dipping.
Cook with broth
Try sautéing vegetables in broth instead of cooking oil to add flavor and reduce fat.
Choose low sodium, fat free broth. If a small amount of cooking oil is necessary, use a nonstick spray instead.
Start the day with a good protein source.
Fueling your brain with protein during your first meal of the day is important. It helps you feel full longer and reduces cravings.
Start your day with an egg or two along with avocado slices and whole wheat toast.
Choose protein sources other than meat
- Black beans, Chickpeas, Kidney beans
- Peanuts, Pistachios
- Seafood like salmon, tuna, sardines
- Greek or Icelandic yogurt
- Soy milk
These southern style pinto beans are full of flavor with no added fat.
Make healthy snacks part of your routine
- Some of my favorites are air popped popcorn, pretzels, almonds, pistachios, and sunflower seeds.
- These wrapped apple bites are a quick and easy snack that includes protein, calcium, and fruit.