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After the whirlwind of the holiday season, the season of resolutions takes over. Many people to resolve to live healthier, and they may not have to give up their favorite foods to do so.

Make your favorite foods healthier

Research from the National Institutes of Health suggests American adults between the ages of 18 and 49 gain an average of one to two pounds every year. Grazing and overeating tends to increase when the weather cools down.

A 2005 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that, in the fall, people tend to consume more calories, total fat and saturated fat. In the spring, people seem to prefer more carbohydrates. In addition, less powerful sunshine in winter coupled with people bundling up translates into less vitamin D being absorbed by the body.

Some researchers believe there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and weight gain as well.

To ensure that certain foods do not sabotage healthy eating plans, people can employ some easy modifications and make healthier versions of the foods they like to eat.

Choose crunchy foods

Those who are prone to snacking can reach for noisy foods. These include crunchy items like apples, carrots and pretzels. Scientists say that when people listen to what they are chewing, called the “crunch effect” they eat less of that item.

Tone down the cream

Delicious dishes like fettuccine alfredo typically are made with lots of butter and cream. Replace cream sauces with a healthier base made of low-fat milk thickened with flour. Increase the flavor with favorite spices.

Fry with care

Use healthy oils like olive or coconut sparingly. Many foods that are traditionally fried also can be lightly coated with cooking spray and baked for a crunchy texture.

Choose sodium-free seasonings

The USCA recommends limiting sodium to less than one teaspoon of salt per day. Try options like fresh herbs or lemon juice to add some sodium-free flavor.

Increase fiber content

Fiber helps one feel fuller longer and can also be helpful for digestion and heart health. Choose the “brown” varieties of rice, pasta and breads.

Replace meat with leaner forms of protein: Lean chicken, turkey and pork can replace red meats in many recipes. Some traditional meat dishes, such as burgers, also can be modified using vegetables or seafood. Lean meats dry out quickly, so keep foods moist by watching cooking times.

Stock up on yogurt

Greek and other varieties of yogurt can replace sour cream and mayonnaise in many dishes.

Resolving to eat healthier can be easy by making some simple swaps when preparing your favorite foods. 

More oatmeal can benefit your body

Oatmeal is one of many options people have when sitting down to breakfast each morning. Though brand name cereals or staples like bacon and eggs might be the most popular choices at the breakfast table, few foods pack as nutritious a punch as oatmeal.

Instant oatmeal might be found in the pantries of many households. But it’s important to note that packets of instant oatmeal are often loaded with sodium and sugar, which can compromise the nutritional benefits of the oats. In fact, WebMD says some instant oatmeal packets contain as much as eight teaspoons of sugar per serving. Store-bought plain rolled oats, or steel-cut oats, are typically nutritious and low in both sugar and sodium. For example, Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Whole Grain Rolled Oats contain just one gram of sugar per serving and no sodium.

Oatmeal can provide a great start to your day and pay other dividends as well, though it’s important that consumers read package labels so they are getting the nutritional benefits of whole grain oats without the added sugar and sodium.

According to the Mayo Clinic, oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. And it doesn’t even take much soluble fiber to reap such benefits. Five to 10 grams of soluble fiber per day has been shown to decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is commonly referred to as LDL or “bad” cholesterol. A single serving of Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Whole Grain Rolled Oats provides 1.6 grams of soluble fiber, helping people get a healthy head start on lowering their LDL throughout the day.

Oatmeal, so long as it isn’t instant oatmeal, is one of the rare foods that’s both filling and low in calories. That makes it an ideal choice for those who want a filling breakfast that won’t affect their waistlines. Oatmeal is filling because of its fiber content. Unlike other carbohydrates, fiber does not break down into sugar once it’s consumed. When fiber is consumed, it absorbs water and takes up space in the stomach, leading to feelings of fullness that can prevent overeating.

The nutritional benefits of oatmeal make it a must-have item for anyone who wants to start their day off in a healthy way. 

Other strategies to control appetite

Hunger can be a formidable foe, especially for people attempting to lose weight. When hunger strikes, various appetite-control strategies can help people avoid overeating or eating during those times when boredom is more to blame than an empty belly.

Eat slowly

When a person eats, a series of signals are sent to the brain from digestive hormones secreted by the gastrointestinal tract. These signals produce a feeling of pleasure and satiety in the brain, but it can take awhile for the brain to receive them. By chewing slowly, people can give the signals more time to reach their brains, potentially preventing them from overeating.

Choose the right snacks

The right snacks can make it easier to eat more slowly. Instead of reaching for potato chips or pretzels, both of which can be eaten quickly and picked up by the handful, choose snacks that are both healthy and require a little work. Carrots dipped in hummus or baked tortilla chips with low-fat salsa or bean dip are low-calorie snacks that also require some work between bites. The time it takes to dip between bites affords more time for the digestive tract to release signals to the brain that you’re full.

Reach for fiber first

Another way to conquer hunger without overeating is to reach for fiber before eating other parts of your meal. Vegetables are rich in fiber, but since veggies are often served as side dishes, many people tend to eat them only after they’ve eaten their main courses. That can contribute to overeating. Fiber fills you up, so by eating the high-fiber portions of your meal first, you’re less likely to overeat before your brain receives the signals that your stomach is full. Consider eating vegetables as an appetizer or, if the entire meal is served at once, clear your plate of vegetables before diving into the main course or other side dishes.

Drink water

Perhaps the best, and least expensive, way to control appetite and ensure you don’t overeat is to drink more water. A 2010 study funded by the Institute for Public Health and Water Research that included 48 adults between the ages of 55 and 75 found that people who drank two eight-ounce glasses of water right before a meal consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories during the ensuing meal than study participants who did not consume water prior to their meals. Over the course of 12 weeks, participants who drank water before meals three times per day lost roughly five pounds more than those who did not increase their water intake.

Controlling appetite does not have to be a complex undertaking.

In fact, some of the simplest strategies can be highly effective.

Wishing you healthy, happy eating in 2019.

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