It has been a long-standing stereotype that if a food is good for you, it must taste bad. We can thank all of those (not really) “light” products that started hitting grocery store shelves in the 70s and 80s. The truth is that nutritious and healthy food tastes great! Well, as long as you make the right choices. Here are some tips and tricks to help you eat a balanced diet that tastes great and is great for you.
One of the first foods to get tossed out when someone decides to improve their diet is butter. Butter has a long-standing reputation for being fattening and unhealthy. And it is true that, in terms of your cardiovascular health, butter is…not great. But it isn’t the butter you consciously add to your recipes that will necessarily work against you. You likely know how to portion that out in moderation.
It’s the butter you don’t think about–the butter you use to grease cookie sheets and cake pans while baking. The butter based spray you use on a saute pan. Instead of reaching for the butter or butter spray in these cases, opt for olive oil spray instead. It serves the same function without all of those artery clogging trans fats!
“Light” = The Enemy
There is a difference between opting for a light meal and eating “light.” The former is a healthy meal that isn’t drenched in oils or fats. The latter is a food that has been chemically processed to be “healthier.” “Light” salad dressing is a good example of this. “Light” potato chips is another.
Do not give into the siren song that is “light” food marketing! Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is! Instead opt for actual light eating by making your own snacks and, sometimes, condiments. The vinaigrette you make for your salad will be much better for you than anything you buy bottled from the store.
Good Fat vs Bad Fat
“It’s so fattening!” is a common accusation that is leveled against, well, pretty much every food that tastes good. For what seems like forever, we have equated the fats listed on ingredients labels with the fat that accumulates in our bodies when we gain weight. And if all fat were the same, this would make sense. However, all fat is not the same. There are some fats that are good for you.
Unsaturated fat is a fat that is necessary for our basic survival. You can find unsaturated fat most often in vegetable oils and in those precious Omega-3s. Saturated fat, on the other hand, is terrible for you. So, when you’re reading the label look for “UNsaturated fats. That number should be much higher than the Saturated or Trans fats numbers (which, ideally, will be zero).
Shop The Perimeter
The simplest way to improve your diet is to shop around the perimeter of the store. The perimeter is usually where you’ll find the produce sections, bakeries, butcher blocks, etc. The aisles, on the other hands, are where all of the processed foods live. These foods are filled with preservatives to help extend their shelf lives. And while the science behind food preservation is fascinating, what those preservatives do to your body is not. A small snack here or there is fine, of course, but your diet should not include regular servings of processed food. Instead, learn how to shop for faster consumption and how to healthfully preserve your own foods through freezing/canning.
It would be easy to find a pre-set diet meal plan and just follow it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for that meal plan to get boring and for it to stop having an effect on your body. Instead, learn how to make healthy choices so that you can have a varied but still healthy diet all year long!