The 5 Foods You Must Eat
2/12/2013 10:37:00 AM
Tired of wondering what to eat next? Or tired of complicated diet plans that tell you what to eat? For those of us watching our weight, it’s a constant chore of making decisions and, most importantly, making the right decisions several times a day.
For myself, the less I think about food the better. The more decisions I have to make, the greater my chances are at making the wrong choices at least some of the time. And if I’m making those decisions while I’m actually hungry? Forget it, all bets are off—chances are I’ll just eat what I want, and that most likely won’t be a salad.
So less thinking means sticking to a list of the best foods available and making sure I include several of them in my meals every day. Then if I overeat, I am overeating on the best foods, not the worst.
Here are the essentials I am sure to include in my food choices every day:
1. Leafy greens
Leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard and kale are high in the nutrients folate, vitamin A and vitamin C, all of which can lower your risk of cancer. Just one cup of dark, leafy greens a day could also prevent diabetes and high blood pressure. If you go to a restaurant for lunch or dinner, skip the salads made with iceberg lettuce and order one with spinach or Romaine lettuce, then add a piece of chicken or salmon for your protein. That will be plenty to keep you satisfied for hours.
Nuts are terrific in providing essential oil and fiber to our diets. In particular, almonds and walnuts are your best choices, and both are high in natural fiber. Fiber slows your digestive process, keeping hunger at bay. Just be careful to count out the nuts to equal one serving — no more than 24 almonds or 12 walnut halves. It’s very easy to eat too many nuts which are high in calories, albeit the good kind of calorie.
3. Whole grains
By whole grain, I’m not including any refined grains, such as white rice and pasta, both of which have lost 90% of their nutritional value through the refining process. Instead, stick to the “good” whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and whole oats. A diet rich in whole grains actually flattens your belly by reducing fat storage in your lower abdominal region. Oatmeal is also one of the best foods you can eat to prevent heart disease.
Yogurt is an excellent choice for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack since it improves your digestion and offers vitamin D and "active cultures," which provide healthy probiotics. Don’t like yogurt? Try some of the Greek yogurt like Chobani, which is high in protein and has a smoother, less tangy taste than traditional yogurt. Also try replacing sour cream with plain yogurt in dips, sauces and other recipes. Yogurt also makes a great dessert — think of it as a healthy pudding!
Both black and green teas are rich sources of antioxidants and flavonoids, which are believed to prevent cancer and reduce inflammation. Green tea in particular is full of health benefits, and buying organic tea prevents the intake of the high amount of pesticides used when growing tea.
See you next month when I’ll talk about the important role music can play in exercise and overall mood management.