With all of the conflicting nutritional advice available today, it’s no wonder so many people are confused about what constitutes a healthy diet. Trying to make sense of all of the information available can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are very simple steps you can take to make sure that your meals are supporting your health and keeping you on the path to reaching and remaining at your ideal body weight.
Try the following 5 tips to gain inspiration for revamping your meals and boost your health.
- Simplify your meals. You don’t have to follow complicated recipes to make a delicious meal. As you start incorporating healthier foods into your diet, keep things simple: a couple of vegetables, a side salad, and a serving of lean protein make a healthy and satisfying meal. Focus on color, variety, and freshness. As you get more comfortable preparing healthy foods, you can start experimenting more.
- Flip your portions. Most of us are used to meals that feature a large portion of protein as the main course, with perhaps one or two vegetables or a salad as a side dish. Switch these around so your vegetables are the main dish, and always serve at least two different veggies. Most Americans get plenty of protein, so don’t be afraid to cut back on the meat — one serving should be about the size of a deck of cards. Load up your plate with plant foods instead.
- Incorporate more color. Take a look at your plate — how many colors do you see? If you’re just eating chicken and rice, it’s going to be pretty dull. Plant foods get their colors from compounds called flavonoids, the same substances that provide many of their nutrients. To get a variety of flavonoids in your diet, try a veggie stir-fry with sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, asparagus, and yellow squash. Finish off your meal with a bowl of mixed berries for dessert.
- Find new ways to enjoy old favorites. Love fried chicken? You can still have chicken — just find a way to prepare it that doesn’t contain trans fats or increase your risk of heart disease. Try an easy, almond-crusted baked chicken recipe that’s loaded with flavor. Don’t think you can ever give up pizza? Get creative in the kitchen with a cauliflower pizza crust that not only cuts out the refined carbs, but also adds an extra serving of healthy vegetables into your meal!
- Focus on good fats. We’ve been taught to believe that fat is the enemy, but some sources of fat are healthy and necessary for proper brain function. Eliminate trans fats — found in margarine, many baked good, and processed foods — and work on getting more healthy fats into your diet. Sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish such as salmon. You can also take a regular fish oil supplement for its anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy properties.
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Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on March 15, 2017