Start the New Year right with these nutrition tips!
Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Our body is made up of over 70% water, it transports nutrients, naturally detoxifies our vital organs, and skin, it aids in sports performance and it helps control our appetite. Initial feelings of hunger are typically mistaken by actual thirst. Drinking a couple of cups of water at the first sign of hunger and waiting a few minutes can reduce any physical food cravings you may have.
Eliminate artificial ingredients. Chemicals like manufactured syrups, dyes and artificial sweeteners may not have any calories but they will disrupt your metabolism still, resulting in weight gain and increased risk for chronic disease. Artificial sweeteners typically found in diet drinks and yogurts will still confuse the pancreas and make your body feel like it has had a spike in insulin, resulting in additional food cravings and decreased fat utilization. Stevia based products are okay in moderation because stevia is all natural. Check the ingredient list for artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, high fructose corn syrup, red, blue, yellow dyes, etc.
Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Most Americans only have 1-3 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Aim to have at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, preferably a ratio of 3:1 (vegetables: fruit). Fruit tends to be higher in sugar and portions will still need to be controlled for optimal health. No, French fries do not count as vegetables either! Aim to consume mainly fibrous vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, etc. The abundance of antioxidants, fiber and water found in plant based foods naturally keeps us feeling full for a long period of time, optimizes our digestive system function and decreases the likelihood of nutrient deficiencies.
Do not cut out fat. Fat does not make you fat, sugar and processed foods do. Incorporate heart healthy fat sources like coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, nut butters, seeds, cold water fish and avocados into most meals and snacks. Fat keeps us feeling satisfied and full, resulting in natural portion control and weight management. The healthy fats listed are also beneficial to the heart, and brain function. Children and adults who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) have reduced symptoms by consuming adequate amounts of omega 3 fatty acids daily.
Eat a source of protein at all of your meals. Protein from both plant based and animal sources contain amino acids that help build and maintain lean muscle. Protein from all natural fish, beef, poultry, eggs, beans, and real grains are the best sources. Inadequate amounts of protein can result in muscle wasting, high body fat percentage and even a compromised immune system. Active people who exercise most days of the week should consume .8-1.0g of protein per pound of their ideal body weight. Consuming enough protein will also help control appetite and portions of other foods.
Be aware of hidden calories. Sure coffee and tea have no calories but if you put a dash of sugar, honey, agave nectar, and/or cream, those “none- calorie” drinks can add up very quickly. Eating out at restaurants also tend to have hidden calories, some steak houses rub the steak in butter before they grill it, the extra oils and cheese in the entrées can also add up quickly, making what you think is a 500 calorie meal really end up being a 1000+ calorie meal. The best bet is to eat at home as much as possible and if you do eat out order off the menu, simple order grilled chicken breast or fish, baked potato and steamed vegetables or salad with all sauces and butters served on the side.
Dr. Kantor’s greatly anticipated new children’s book, The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice, is now available. Be sure to order this highly reviewed book, filled with healthy living tips for the whole family. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.