March is National Nutrition Month, when The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics rolls out its annual education and awareness campaign encouraging everyone to “Eat Right, Your Way, and Every Day.” Their message is important because food and diet have such a direct impact on health – including healthy body weight. Being overweight raises the risk of serious diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer, and more. Eating right is key for wellness and vitality, and for sure it puts prevention into practice.
It’s a myth that eating sensibly is tedious and dull. In truth, a healthy diet contains plenty of delicious and satisfying foods. And for weight control, good food and healthy eating habits make it no big deal.
Choose foods high in fiber
Fiber is a dieter’s friend because it fills you up, boosts metabolism and foods high in fiber taste great and are naturally low in calories. A study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center found that women who doubled their fiber intake cut their calorie absorption by 90 calories daily.
Combine fiber and protein at every meal
Fiber and protein are the two nutrients that take the longest to digest. It is this perfect combination that keeps your serum glucose levels steady, so you have sustained energy and no nagging sugar cravings.
Spice it up
Spices are a great alternative to salt and sugar, but there's another bonus: spicy foods increase heart rate and body temperature, both of which help burn more calories. Did you know that cayenne pepper acts to strengthen the heart, arteries and capillaries and lowers cholesterol levels? A study published in the journal Diabetes Care showed that consuming a tablespoon of cinnamon a day helped to lower cholesterol significantly.
It’s easy to mistake dehydration for hunger, so be sure to quench your thirst before reaching for a snack. It’s always a good idea to take a bottle of water with you when out and for variety jazz it up with a powdered or liquid zero-calorie flavor enhancer.
Dress your salad well
Salads start out healthy enough, but the wrong dressing can turn it into a fat and calorie bomb. Avoid oil-based or creamy concoctions and opt instead for a splash of red wine vinegar and grated parmesan cheese. This combo is as tasty as vinaigrette but even with the cheese two tablespoons has only 55 calories. Lighter still, blend some good mustard with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
For more tips, delicious high fiber meal plans, recipes, and proven ways to lose weight and look great, check out my new book The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and author of the Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber as well as the bestselling Follow Tanya on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.