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How to Make Healthier Meal Choices

Updated: Feb 8

If you want to improve your overall health and well-being, a good place to start is to make healthier meal choices. You can remove unhealthy foods from your diet and add healthier ones that can benefit your health, for instance, help you to lose weight and improve the health of your skin and hair. Consider the following tips on how you can make better choices for your daily diet.



Add More Grains and Fiber


Switch from eating white bread to wheat or whole grain bread. When you eat whole grains, you'll benefit from food that is high in fiber and low in fat. Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that can satisfy your hunger quicker and prevent you from eating too much in one sitting.


Instead of eating pastries, for instance, replace them with a whole grain bagel or wheat toast. Remove cereals with sugar from your diet and replace them with oatmeal. When snacking, increase the amount of fruits and vegetables.


Pay attention to labels when buying foods with grains and fiber. If the packaging says "enriched," you want to steer clear of it. Look for whole grains and whole wheat flour which have the nutrients you need. The reason why enriched grains are not the best choice is that during the production process, grains are milled, and bran and germ are removed. Those are the good parts with nutrients and fiber. This process ensures that the texture is finer and that the shelf life is extended. Some nutrients, such as B vitamins are added, but fiber is not added back to the grains.


A high-fiber diet is effective in regulating bowel movements, can lower cholesterol levels, and is a key factor in controlling blood sugar levels. To get more fiber in your diet, eat avocados, green peas, broccoli, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and oranges, to name a few.


Eat More Fruits and Vegetables


If you have a sweet tooth, eat more fruits. You'll get that healthy sweetness you're craving, without the fat and carbs of desserts, such as cake, cookies, and brownies. Adding vegetables to your lunch or dinner, can give you added vitamins, minerals, and fiber that your body needs to maintain overall health and well-being.


Just remember that if you're adding fruit to yogurt, you don't need to add sugar. The fruit will provide that natural sweetener that's a perfect compliment to low-fat Greek yogurt. Adding granola gives you fiber and completes this healthy snack.


When cooking vegetables, don't use margarine or butter to add saltiness and flavor. Sautee them with olive oil or other healthy oils, such as avocado oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, or canola oil. Just remember that each oil has a distinctive taste and smell and will affect the way the vegetables taste. If you haven't yet cooked with these oils, have fun experimenting with them and find out which oils you like best. You may surprise yourself and like an oil that you never thought you'd enjoy.


You may not enjoy eating vegetables, even though they're healthy for you. Make sure you don't splurge for flavor and regularly eat fried vegetables that you eat with butter, cream, or cheese dipping sauces. This defeats the purpose of eating vegetables: instead, use the healthy oils already mentioned or steam, boil, or bake them - or eat them raw.


Make Sure You Get Protein


Foods containing protein are essential for your body to effectively grow and maintain tissue. Proteins contain enzymes that are catalysts for biochemical reactions like energy production, digestion, blood clotting, and contraction of muscles. So, it's important for your body to get enough protein each day in your diet.


When considering adding protein to your daily diet, you may be thinking about having to eat more meat, such as beef, veal, or lamb. If that's what you want to do to increase daily protein intake, make sure you choose lean cuts of meat that are low in fat. When preparing the meat to cook it, make sure you remove the fat, so the meat isn't soaking in the fat as it cooks. The four healthiest ways to cook meat is grilling, roasting, baking, or broiling.


Don't forget about the protein you can get from eating chicken. This meat is healthy for you because it's high in protein and low in fat. The healthiest way to cook the chicken is to cut off any fat and remove skin before cooking and use broiling or baking it.


In addition, another source of protein is fish. One added benefit of eating seafood is that many of them are high in the good kind of polyunsaturated fat and contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, such as salmon. It's recommended that you eat fish twice a week.


If you'd rather get your protein from non-meat options, consider adding quinoa to your daily diet. If you aren't a fan of the texture of this high-protein grain, consider adding vegetables to enhance the taste and compliment the texture. Spinach is high in protein and can be sauteed, added to a chicken and rice dish or other meal--or eaten as a salad or in combination with romaine lettuce or spring mix. Hummus is another great source of protein that can be eaten as an appetizer with pita bread or corn or multigrain chips.


Balance Your Dairy Intake


Milk is a great source of calcium which your body needs to maintain healthy bones and teeth, and is effective in proper rehydration and enhances the vitamin intake process for your body. However, you may be lactose intolerant and can't drink milk or would rather drink low fat instead of whole milk. If you're lactose intolerant, your best options for dairy intake are almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or lactose-free milk.


Drinking milk and eating cheese is not going to negatively impact your health, as long as you partake in a balanced manner and don't overindulge. If you want to embrace healthier dairy options and lose weight, choose low-fat options or skim cheeses. Nonfat yogurt or low-fat Greek yogurt are healthy choices to satisfy your daily dairy intake.


Start Eating Better Today


Make positive changes in your daily diet so you can improve your chances of living a healthier and more fulfilling life. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can get off to a great start in enhancing your life. Also, consult your personal trainer online or in-person to get more advice.

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