By Emily Sanderson
What worked for our ancestors will work best for us: eat more homemade, healthy recipes in proper portion sizes to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, what we have today that our ancestors didn’t is access to healthy dietary traditions and recipes from across the world at our fingertips in the form of cookbook and recipe software.
Fad diets come and go, but most of us know that to really lose weight and keep it off requires a willingness to make a lifestyle change, as well as a little bit of research. At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™ Cut down on fast food, processed food and pre-packaged dinners. Cook from scratch more often using fresh, seasonal ingredients and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, says a stay-at-home mother named Elizabeth from the UK on her website, Healthy-eating-made-easy.com, which provides many healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
WebMD has similar advice. Eat home-cooked meals at least five days a week, they say. Serve three vegetables with dinner tonight instead of just one, and serve them with lemon and herbs instead of a high-fat sauce or dressing. Cut back on soda pop and other sugary drinks and replace them with water. Eat whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, oats, buckwheat, and whole wheat. Go meatless more often and watch your portion sizes.
Convert Family Recipes
Most of us have family recipes that have been passed from generation to generation for years, whether they are for the perfect lasagna, fried chicken, potato salad or a decadent dessert. Although some recipes are healthier than others, adding an American twist on any ethnic recipe often means adding more meat and fewer vegetables. But it is easy to alter family recipes just a little to make them healthy recipes.
Eatingwell.com provides recipes for healthy side dishes to take to your next potluck. For example, for that favorite potato salad or coleslaw, replace half the mayonnaise with low-fat plain yogurt and use reduced-fat or soy mayonnaise.
Healthy Portion Sizes
Portion sizes are key to eating healthy, says Timothy Harlan M.D. of Dr. Gourmet.com. Supersized meals have become the norm today. In a study of college students in 2006, portion sizes chosen for breakfast and lunch were found to be more than 125 percent of the standard portion.
“There’s good proof that you don’t need the Diet Plate and that just taking the time to learn the right portion size works,” says Harlan, who provides a portion guide on his website. By measuring correct portions just a few times, you can get a feel for what portions should be.
For example, one serving of dry cereal, one cup, is the size of a fist. One serving of beef or pork, four ounces, looks like a deck of cards; and one serving of peanut butter, two tablespoons, looks like the size of a ping pong ball. The Dr. Gourmet website also provides a free diet planner called the Real World Diet that customizes to your specific dietary and weight loss needs. It even adjusts for special medical needs such as diabetes, high blood pressure and food allergies.
Planning your meals ahead of time is also essential. If you bring a home-cooked meal to work, you are more likely to eat healthy at lunch than if you order out. But make sure to eat something one way or another, as you need the metabolism that eating regular meals provides in order to lose weight.
Finally, make sure to include exercise with any diet plan. Even taking a leisurely walk for 30 minutes three or four times a week can make a huge difference in how well your body metabolizes the food you eat, which means an increase in energy. Exercise also helps with all body functions, including blood circulation, the nervous system and digestion.
Changing your diet is a lifestyle adjustment and it can seem overwhelming at first. You may be under a doctor’s orders to change your diet or you may simply want to feel and look better. Make sure to reach out to family and friends to gain the support you need in this endeavor. Consider getting a dog so you will have an excuse to take a walk or a jog frequently.
Eating healthy recipes consistently is a crucial step to a better diet. Pounds may not come off as quickly as they may in a crash diet, but you are more likely to keep off the weight you lose if you make a lifetime commitment to healthier habits. When you start to see progress on your waistline and when your energy level increases, make sure to reward yourself. Then keep up the good work.