Here are just a few quick tips and reminders to help keep you on track.
1) 10 In 1 Rule
Check the nutrition label and strive for 10 grams of carbs for every 1 gram of fiber. This ratio is a clue that what you’re looking at is a whole and unprocessed grain.
2) Rotate Your Greens
Variety in your diet is good for you and keeps things interesting. Instead of just romaine in your salads, try arugula, watercress, Swiss chard, kale, and beet greens. They’re all nutritious in different ways and all have distinctly different flavors.
3) Stock Up On Good Stuff
Try and keep a range of healthy options ready to go at all times in your house. Use those ingredients in different combos to redefine salad. Add protein (salmon, chicken, hard boiled egg) to some greens and other vegetables, throw in some nuts, and dress with olive oil. Eating healthy doesn’t require a complicated recipe. This works great for leftovers too.
4) Make Your Goals Action-Oriented
Don’t focus on “losing 20 pounds”. Instead, focus on goals like “walk for 30 minutes, 4 times a week” or “go to Zumba on Wednesdays”. The accomplishments of these smaller goals will help drive you to the ultimate end goal and also establish healthy habits.
5) Eat Your Fruit, Don’t Drink It
Most fruit juices are filled with things you don’t need and can spike blood sugar levels and lead you down a road toward insulin-resistance. While juice is a better choice than a soft drink, you don’t get the benefits of the fiber you would have if you’d eaten it instead. The less processing of your food, the better.
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Vitamin D is a critical nutrient that most people aren’t getting enough of. Recommendations range from 600-1,200 IU per day and as Summer rolls in, sunlight is an easy way to get more vitamin D. If you’ve had all the golden rays you can handle, you can also get Vitamin D from food.
Here are 5 foods that can supply you with Vitamin D:
1) Egg Yolks
The egg white is where most of the protein is and the yolk is where the fat, vitamins, and minerals are hiding. An egg from a commercially-raised chicken has 18-39 IU of vitamin D. Pasture-raised chickens that are able to roam outside in the sun lay eggs that contain 3 times that amount!
While most varieties of mushrooms aren’t real high in vitamin D (a medium button mushroom gets you about 1 IU) they’re still the only thing in the produce section that will provide you with any vitamin D. There are now some brands that expose the mushrooms to UV light, giving them even more vitamin D potential and taking the number up to 130-145 IU.
3) Wild-Caught Fatty Fish
Fish is the most efficient way to get more vitamin D in your diet. It’s worth noting that, just like our previous two foods, the living conditions of the plant/animal greatly affect the amount of vitamin D. Just 3.5 oz of wild-caught salmon gets you 988 IUs, while the same amount of farm-raised salmon only yields 245 IU. Branching out a little, Fresh Atlantic Herring comes in at 1,628 IU (!) for the same serving and pickled herring contains around 600 IU. Canned tuna (3 oz) yields 154 IU.
Most dairy milk is fortified with vitamin D and an 8 ounce glass contains 100 IU of it. Milk alternatives like almond milk and soy milk are usually also fortified and contain between 150 IU and 180 IU.
One medium-size shrimp contains about 9 IU of vitamin D and a typical serving of 4oz can net you 170 IUs.
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Crustaceans, shrimp, mixed species, raw
Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash
If you’re here, you probably already know fat doesn’t make you fat - consuming excess calories does. Fats are calorically dense, so you don’t want to overdo it, but it’s important that you make them part of your regular diet as they have many different health benefits. Here are 6 high-fat foods that should be included in your diet:
Full of mostly monounsaturated fats and fiber, an avocado contains more protein than any other fruit. Try using avocado slices in place of butter on toast or instead of sour cream on a baked potato. Because they’re high in calories, it’s best to stick to ¼ or ½ of an avocado, so you may want to share the rest with someone else.
2) Olives/Olive Oil
Also filled with monounsaturated fats, olives and olive oil are good for heart health and support brain functions. A recommended serving for olives would be about 10 small ones and for olive oil typically 1 tablespoon, as this will get you 14 grams of fat.
Stick with seeds such as flax, chia, and sunflower to get fats, Omega-3s and even fiber. Whichever you go with, a tablespoon serving is enough to get you all the benefits you need.
Different nuts provide different benefits but all provide fat, so feel free to rotate through them. Walnuts are highest in Omega-3s. Almonds are highest in vitamin E. The serving size for walnuts and almonds is ¼ cup per day. Cashews and macadamia nuts are higher in calories so you may want to step the servings of them down.
5) Whole Eggs
Don’t toss the yolks out when you’re prepping eggs. The yolk is highly nutrient-dense and recent studies have found that eating it can help lower bad LDL cholesterol. Eggs are a cheap source of protein as well as fat.
6) Dark Chocolate
One ounce of dark chocolate (about the size of three of your fingers put together) yields 9 grams of fat along with anti-oxidants. Try and choose varieties that are at least 70% cacao or higher.
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Keeping your portions in check will help you meet your weight-loss goals, help control blood sugar, and make you feel like you’re in control again.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid portion distortion:
1) Eat Regularly
Try and avoid skipping meals or generally going more than 5 hours without eating. For most people this means 3 meals and a snack. Going any longer can cause you to grab whatever is on-hand, good or bad, when you’re famished.
2) Measure and Weigh Food
Most people aren’t great at estimating portion sizes so it’s helpful to weigh and measure things you typically eat so you get an idea of what a proper portion looks like. Once you get a feel for how much of it you should be eating, you may not have to measure it every time.
3) Learn to Size Things Up
You won’t always have a scale or measuring cups handy, so it’s helpful to be able to relate portion sizes to things you can relate to. For instance, one cup of cereal is about the size of your fist and 3 ounces of lean meat is the size of a deck of cards.
4) Serving Size vs. Portion Size
A serving size is simply what’s listed on the nutrition facts panel. Portion size is how much of the food you actually end up eating. So if your portion consumed was actually two servings, you have to remember that all of the nutrition numbers are then doubled.
5) Reduce Plate Size
Using smaller plates or bowls will help you avoid piling on food you don’t need.
6) Work On Your Dining Out Habits
Remember to start your meal out with leafy greens or other vegetables and don’t get carried away with anything the restaurant offers that’s unlimited - except for water. Most restaurants offer everything in excess so here are some other tips we’ve gone over already: https://www.simplypreppedmeals.com/blog/7-tips-for-dining-out-healthy
7) Plan Your Meals
Having a plan of what you’ll eat during the day will help your nutrition stay balanced and keep you from sabotaging your own progress. Knowing there are more balanced meals in your future will make you less likely to overdo it in one sitting.
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Photo by Lily Banse on Unsplash
Life gets busy and mornings are short. Cereal can be a quick way to make sure you start your day off right. The majority of cereals you’ll see on shelves are NOT good ways to start your day, so we’ve picked out five good ones that are pretty easy to find that’ll get you nourished quick.
Keep in mind that serving sizes are different for different types of cereal. To compare protein amounts for these cereals, remember than an egg has about 6g of protein. Also, it’s best to stay under 10g of sugar to keep breakfast from becoming a dessert. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to mix in some fruit or Greek yogurt with any of these to make them a little more exciting and increase the nutrition even more.
Crunchy little pebbles of whole grains you can eat hot or cold. A good amount of protein and one serving gets you 90% of your iron for the day!
Total Fat 1g
Kashi Go Lean Original
Lots of fiber and an awesome amount of protein in this one. Don’t let the mention of “fiber twigs” on the box scare you. It’s good!
Total Fat 2g
Post Wheat ‘N Bran Shredded Wheat
One of the oldest cereals around and for good reason. No sugar, a good amount of protein, and no unnecessary ingredients make this a winning choice.
Total Fat 1.5g
Cascadian Farms Multi Grain Squares
Whole grain wheat, rice, and corn come together to form a higher fiber and higher protein alternative to Life cereal.
Total Fat 1g
A classic choice with just a little added sugar but a decent amount of fiber and some protein.
Total Fat 2g
Post Grape-Nuts Original
Kashi® GOLEAN® Original Cereal
SHREDDED WHEAT Spoon Size Wheat'n Bran
Multi Grain Squares Cereal
Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash
We’ve all heard that you’re supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day at 8 ounces each - so 64 ounces. That’s fine if you weigh 128 pounds. To figure up how much water you should be drinking, simply take your body weight and divide it in half. That’s how many ounces of water you need in a day. That being said, here are six reasons why it’s so important to get all those ounces in.
• Fluid Balance
Simply put, water helps keep all your cells hydrated to perform their functions. Roughly 60% of your body’s composition is water so not having enough of it causes everything in your day to suffer. Headaches, joint pain, and trouble thinking are all things that may be helped by proper hydration.
Water will help keep you regular by dissolving fats and soluble fiber. It also helps the kidneys and liver to perform their jobs of flushing waste.
• Thirst Disguised as Hunger
Thirst is often mistaken as hunger, and more food is then consumed when really all you needed was more water. If you feel the urge to grab a snack, try some water first. If the hunger persists then you can take care of it.
• It Could Aid in Weight Loss
Studies have shown that those who drank water before a meal lose weight faster than those that don’t. The water makes you feel full faster and also aids in speeding up your metabolism to keep things moving.
• Clearer Skin
Staying hydrated can help your skin look brighter and cleaner by allowing cell regeneration to take place. Sweating is another way the body flushes waste from the body and if you’re dehydrated you can’t sweat properly. This can lead to clogged pores and ducts with lead to breakouts.
• Muscle Fatigue
Just like all those other cells we mentioned, muscles need water to function properly too. Not keeping up on your water consumption will lead to poor performance and tiring out quickly.
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Photo by Carly Jayne on Unsplash
Few things are as frustrating as not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your ability to focus, your mood, and your body’s ability to fight off stress. None of those are a good thing.
We’ve put together a list of five sleep promoting foods, to help you catch those zzz’s.
Tart Cherry Juice
Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which can help ease insomnia. Drinking a glass before bed or even eating fresh cherries can help you drift off to sleep more easily.
Bananas are high in potassium which can help calm restless legs, bananas also contain magnesium which is known to promote digestion and help with relaxation. They also contain B6 which is needed to help your body to produce melatonin.
Caffeine Free Tea with Honey
Caffeine Free Tea with Honey
Choosing a green tea or chamomile tea sans caffeine as a before bed drink can help your body relax. Green tea contains theanine which promotes sleep, and chamomile helps your nerves and muscles to relax. The natural sugar in honey slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain.
Oatmeal contains magnesium, calcium, and potassium - all three can help you fall asleep faster. Magnesium can also help you stay asleep longer.
Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which relaxes your body and mind. Be sure to stick to a 1 to 1.5 oz. portion.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash
Whether you’re going vegan, are lactose intolerant, or just trying to reduce dairy in your diet, it’s now very easy to grab a dairy-free alternative to replace cow’s milk. There are several different options on store shelves, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Nutrition: 8oz serving of 1% cow milk - 103 calories, 2.5 g fat, 13g sugar, 8g protein, calcium 30% DV
Pros: High in calcium and protein, contains Vitamins A, D, and B2 (riboflavin)
Cons: Can cause bloating, gas, acne, and inflammation, cows pass on antibiotics to the milk
Nutrition: 8oz serving of Silk Original Almond Milk - 60 calories, 2.5 g fat, 7g sugar, 1g protein, calcium 45% DV
Pros: High in calcium and can be high in Vitamins D and E if fortified, low calories
Cons: Low in protein, some varieties have lots of added sugars (don’t go over 10g of sugar)
Nutrition: 8oz serving of So Delicious Original Coconut Milk - 70 calories, 4.5 g fat, 7g sugar, 0g protein, calcium 10% DV
Pros: Free of dairy, soy, gluten, and lactose, good for adding richness to smoothies or hot cereals
Cons: No protein, low calcium, high in saturated fat
Nutrition: 8oz serving of Silk Original Cashew Milk - 60 calories, 2.5 g fat, 7g sugar, 1g protein, calcium 45% DV
Pros: 50% more calcium than cow milk, low calories
Cons: Almost no protein
Pea Protein Milk
Nutrition: 8oz serving of Ripple Unsweetened Pea Protein Milk Original - 100 calories, 4.5g fat, 6g sugar, 8g protein, calcium 45%
Pros: As much protein as cow milk, good source of Iron, Vitamin D, and Omega-3s
Cons: Sweetened versions can contain up to 15g sugar so choose carefully
Nutrition: 8oz serving of Silk Original Soymilk - 110 calories, 4.5g fat, 6g sugar, 8g protein, calcium 45% DV
Pros: As much protein as cow milk, complete protein source
Cons: Too much soy in your diet can be a problem for those with thyroid issues, contains phytoestrogens which act like estrogen in the body
Nutrition: 8oz serving of Rice Dream Original - 120 calories, 2.5g fat, 10g sugar, 1g protein, calcium 2% DV
Pros: Low fat, safe for those allergic to soy and nuts
Cons: Low protein, low calcium, high sugar, high calories
Silk Original Almond Milk
Original Coconutmilk Beverage
Which Non-Dairy Milk Is Right for You?
Rice Dream Original Rice Drink
Original Nutritious Pea Milk
Photo by Jonas Dücker on Unsplash
When you’re always on the go, it’s important to snack smart in between meals. It’s easy to get your hands on sugar-filled treats or processed foods that provide little nutrition. Here are some high-protein snacks that are easy to take with you and will help nourish your body to keep you going.
Cheap and easy to prep, eggs are packed with essential vitamins and minerals as well as around 6g of protein but only come in at 78 calories each. They’re also extremely portable and one or two should hold you over.
A half-cup of cottage cheese contains 14g of protein. Feel free to toss in some fruit or nuts for even more flavor and nutrition. Cottage cheese is also high in casein, which is a slower-burning protein than whey. It’s a good late-night snack that will keep feeding your muscles after you’re asleep.
An ounce of almonds (20-24 whole nuts) will net you 6g of protein along with Vitamin E and healthy fats. Be sure to avoid the flavored varieties as sugar is pretty high up in their ingredients list. Roasted and salted is about as complicated as you want to get with these.
Peanut butter has long been a go-to for portable protein and for good reason. Just 2 Tbsp of natural peanut butter serves up 8g of protein. When choosing a jar, stick with the “natural” varieties and make sure there aren’t any added sugars or fats. You can even find powdered peanut butter that has less fat but the same protein amount.
Tuna is another cheap protein-packed snack. You can eat it by itself or on top of whole wheat crackers. Go for the cans packed in water to avoid extra calories from the oil-packed varieties. You can also get tuna in pouches that are even easier to take with you. The pouches will get you 17g of protein for just 70 calories!
Chickpeas are cheap (less than a dollar for a can) and full of fiber and protein. Roasting them turns them into a crunchy snack that is very portable and satisfying. One cup will provide you with 14.5g of protein and 12.5 grams of fiber.
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Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash
Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash
A healthy, balanced diet can help keep sickness at bay. Here are some additional foods that can increase your immune system’s efficiency even more.
Full of zinc, fiber, and protein, chickpeas/garbanzo beans are a powerful tool in your germ-fighting arsenal. Zinc is critical to the production of white blood cells that help recognize and destroy invading bacteria.
Another zinc powerhouse is beef. Even a mild deficiency in zinc can increase your risk for infection and just 3 ounces of beef can provide you with 30% of your daily value of zinc.
Garlic contains the active ingredient allicin, which helps to fight infection and bacteria. It also contains sulfur that aids in your body’s absorption of all that aforementioned zinc.
Cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, trout, or tuna contain Omega-3 fatty acids that can reduce inflammation in the body and increase the flow of oxygen in your airways.
Mushrooms are one of the few food sources of vitamin-D, which is crucial to the immune system. Toss mushrooms into salads or soups or you can add them to your eggs in the morning.
Probiotics (Yogurt, Kombucha)
Keep your GI tract balanced and full of good bacteria to keep out the bad bacteria. Include foods such as yogurt (look for ones labeled “Live and Active Cultures”), kefir, and kombucha to get the benefits of probiotics. You can also supplement probiotics in pill form.
Green and black teas are packed with an antioxidant known as flavonoids. The advantage green tea has over black tea is that it’s processed less and more of its antioxidants make it into the final packaged product.
Citrus & Bell Peppers
Your body can’t store vitamin-C so it’s important you get some into your diet daily as it helps support a healthy immune system. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines are good sources of this vitamin. If citrus isn’t your thing, the red bell pepper contains three times the amount of vitamin C! Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach are also good sources.
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