OK, you’re going to get serious about healthy eating after you finish the Valentine’s chocolates. Here are the 10 must have foods to add to your diet on a near-daily basis — with reasonable portions, of course — to shed pounds, feel energized and look great.
1. Greek yogurt: We often concentrate our protein intake at the end of the day, but we’ll feel more full if we have smaller- portions of protein throughout the day, says Joan Salge Blake, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and professor of nutrition at Boston University. Try adding a low or nonfat greek yogurt to your breakfast to get an early a.m. serving.
2. Soup: “One of the best ways to get more vegetables into your diet is soup,” Blake said. “If you have vegetable-broth-based soup before a meal, it can help you reduce the number of calories you eat at that meal.”
3. Ancient grains such as amaranth, quinoa, farro: “People get bored with brown rice, so having some of these nice grains will mix it up a bit,” Blake said. But watch your portion size: No more than one-quarter of the plate should be grains of any kind.
4. Fish: The AAND recommends two fish meals a week to help combat heart disease, and most of us are falling way short. We love Blake’s no-cook fix for getting in two meals: “When you go out to dinner, order a bigger cut of grilled salmon — it’s fantastic — take half home and have the other half for lunch the next day.”
5. Almonds: Carry a small baggie of these powerhouse-healthy nuts for sudden snack attacks. “I can always pop a half-ounce. It’s a great source of fiber, healthy fats and protein, and I’m not stopping at a convenience store and eating a candy bar,” Blake said.
6. Fruit-infused water: One of the biggest sources of calories in the American diet is sugary drinks. Blake has a genius way to get your flavored-beverage fix: a water- pitcher with an infusion cylinder. Try adding water-melon, cucumber, lemons, limes and more to your pitcher for a refreshing, zero-calorie treat.
7. Beans: The magical fruit is “extremely affordable, wonderfully high in fiber and a good source of protein,” Blake said. And it’s a great calorie-swap, too: Switch out a half-pound of meat in chili for a half-can of beans and save big on your total intake number.
8. Dark chocolate: A surefire way to blow your diet is total deprivation. Instead, indulge sensibly. Try Blake’s trick: Melt a half-ounce of good-quality dark chocolate in the microwave, then dip strawberries or pineapple chunks for a sweet treat.
9. Seasonal produce: Shopping the aisles for what Mother Nature gave us is a great way to eat better, but Blake recommends taking it a step further and sticking to seasonal items. “What’s in season is going to be more affordable and taste better,” she said.
10. Stevia: “It’s got less calories and can replace regular sugar,” said Blake of the trendy all-natural sweetener. Of course, re-placing your coffee’s sugar with stevia won’t mean much if you’re still downing soda, so swap smartly.
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