If you are trying to lose weight, there are several components of eating that must be modified. Now is the time to learn them, so the good habits will last long after your weight loss is complete.
1. Healthy drinking. This means avoiding sugar-filled drinks most of the time. On occasion, indulge yourself in your favorite soda or latte, but in general drink mostly water. Skim milk, plain coffee and unsweet tea are fine. 1 serving of 100% juice is fine to have once per day. The more water you drink, the fewer calories you will likely eat/drink.
2. Healthy grains. You cannot avoid carbs for the rest of your life, so find the healthy ones! 100% whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, oats, etc. are the best options. Don’t be fooled when you see “whole grain” on the box; check the ingredients. Be prepared; healthy grains typically cost more than the bleached versions.
3. Healthy meats. Start the habit of eating less beef/pork and more chicken/turkey/fish. Vegetarian foods are also great choices for protein. Skinless, boneless chicken breasts are easy to cook in a variety of ways. Fish also can be quickly seasoned and broiled. Simply move your meat from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before you plan to cook it, so it will be thawed and ready to prepare for supper.
4. Fruits/vegetables. Eat a variety of these very frequently. Try to have at least 2-3 fruits and 2-3 vegetables each day. Count up your servings so that you have at least 5 every day! Fresh salads and soups are great options for variety. Also, consider using vegetables or tomato sauces with your meats and/or healthy carbs.
5. Healthy dairy. Dairy is an important part of your diet, so choose low-fat varieties when possible. Do not avoid fat altogether, but make changes where you can (for example: light sour cream).
6. Desserts. Try to replace desserts with healthier options like yogurt, fruit or jello. But indulge yourself in a serving of your favorite dessert on occasion.
7. Snacks. Try to replace junk food snacks with things like granola bars, nuts, whole grain crackers (Triscuits), fresh veggies, etc.
8. Fats/oils. Minimize the use of butter; replace it with olive oil. Avoid fried foods and using bacon fat or other animal fats for cooking.
9. Eating out. Do it less if you can or choose healthy options. Avoid fast food and fried foods. Be careful of your portion sizes. Skip the appetizer or dessert. Order a side salad.
10. Processed food. Minimize pre-prepared, pre-processed foods and frozen meals if possible. They are full of salt and preservatives. Plain, frozen vegetables are fine to cook with because they do not usually have any added salt.