By Rosanne Rust MS, RDN, LDN —
If you live in the Northeast you may not be feeling “spring” yet, but it’s here. As the days get longer and warmer, there will be more opportunity to be more physically active, so it’s a great time of year to give your diet a tune-up and spring into lighter eating.
Since there seems to be so much controversy over what to eat, I challenge you to understand the concept of moderation, and consider setting some behavioral goals as well. The “how and why” of eating is as important as the “what” you choose. Think about tuning in to real hunger, planning meals and snacks from the basic food groups (grains, vegetables, fruit, protein, milk) and then allowing treats from high sugar or high fat foods in smaller portions less often.
There is no question that maintaining a healthy weight may indeed be one of the most important aspects of health and reducing disease risk. Try these 7 easy tips:
Believe it or not, you can lighten up your diet by ensuring that you are eating enough! Try some of our online tools.
Especially being sure to include protein, fiber and fat. Add protein at breakfast with low fat milk, eggs or nuts. Add some chopped walnuts and some fresh fruit to hot oatmeal (the natural fructose in fruit has a low glycemic index and adds sweetness).
Non-caloric sweeteners can enhance flavor profiles and do not provide calories. Foods or beverages sweetened with them can be a great option for weight control as well as for those with diabetes. Swapping a12-ouncee diet soda for a regular soda saves you about 150 calories. You can also save calories by using light yogurts sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners, aka sugar substitutes.
You don’t have to go fat-free, but you can reduce fat and calories by substituting ingredients. Replace sour cream with plain nonfat Greek yogurt in recipes to lower fat and increase protein. Try subbing 1-cup 1% milk and 2 tablespoons of cream cheese for 1-cup heavy cream in sauce recipes. Add fruit puree to recipes in place of some of oils for added fiber and vitamins, in addition to natural sweetness, and try some new recipes that incorporate a variety of sweeteners.
Adding extra finely chopped veggies to casseroles, quick breads or muffins, adds volume and reduces calories per portion. Find more ways to use beans, which are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and satisfying. Mash them into soups and sauces, use them to create delicious bean patties, try pureed black beans in a favorite brownie recipe.
Often we will just eat what’s in front of us. Take a good look at your portions. Enjoy the foods you love, just cut the portion in half.
In addition to setting new springtime exercise goals, think about how you can add more movement to your daily routine, including sitting less.
Rosanne Rust MS, RDN, LDN is a registered, licensed dietitian-nutritionist with over 25 years experience. As a Nutrition Communications Consultant she delivers clear messages helping you understand the science of nutrition so you can enjoy eating for better health. Rosanne is the co-author of several books, including DASH Diet For Dummies® and the The Glycemic Index Cookbook For Dummies®. A wife, and mother of 3 boys, she practices what she preaches, enjoying regular exercise, good food and festive entertaining. Follow her on Twitter @RustNutrition.