Eating well doesn’t mean the same thing today as it did in years passed. We are constantly learning more about how our bodies react to different foods and what they require to work their best. All signs point to a natural, clean diet that’s rich in nutrients.
Along with exercise, an ideal diet not only fuels, but enhances your body. This may be common knowledge to some, but if you've already forgotten your New Year's resolution to eat right and get fit this year, here are some ingredients to become a stronger, healthier you in 2015:
Protein And Fiber, And Lots Of It
Getting loads of protein and fiber in your diet can benefit your heart, weight and energy level. Lean, white meats, such as turkey and chicken, are great sources of protein and are lower in cholesterol than red meat is.
Try to grill these with a touch of olive oil instead of deep frying them. Fish, like salmon, are also chock full of nutrients, such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and good Omega-3 fats.
Alternatively, vegetarians and vegans can cook soy protein products, tofu or beans. Yogurt, milk or almond milk and eggs also get the job done.
Whole grains are high in fiber and antioxidants, and they reduce the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. This is unlike white bread or white rice, which are stripped of nutrients during the refining process.
Fruits like apples and pears and vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli provide fiber without the added refined carbs.
Foodie Fresh: Cook It Yourself
Believe it or not, cooking for yourself offers benefits beyond giving you something to Instagram. For one thing, doing so allows you to know exactly what goes into your meal because you put it there.
You avoid many of the preservatives that go into pre-prepared frozen meals, like processed meat, which is full of sodium nitrates.
Cooking your own food also teaches you patience and moderation, as you take the time to gather and prepare the meal. This saves you from making that fast food run or going crazy on Seamless, and it’s not bad for your wallet, either.
Embrace Healthy Fats
It may not seem like it, but fats can be your friends. Unlike trans-fats, mono and polyunsaturated fats actually lower your cholesterol.
Good monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil, nuts and peanut butter. Eat a handful of nuts a few times a week or throw them into some trail mix. Polyunsaturated fats include tofu, salmon, tuna and soy milk.
Meat can be high in saturated fat; try having salmon or mackerel instead of meat about twice a week. Replace a creamy salad dressing with some olive oil, or use less butter to enhance the richness of your meal.
Dairy products like cheese, milk, butter and yogurt contain saturated fat, so use them in small amounts, or use low or non-fat versions.The key is moderation.
Egg yolks are also a saturated fat, but they are full of nutrients and protein, so if you are making an omelet, use the egg whites of two eggs with a third whole egg to get those added benefits. You can also take cod liver fish oil supplements, which offer Omega-3s, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin A.
A New Kind Of Snacking
For a healthy, good snack that isn’t processed or artificial, try dipping some organic veggies in hummus or having a sliced avocado, drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
If you’re craving something sweet, have some dates or figs or have a piece of fruit. Also, dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients and contains a good amount of soluble fiber.
Or, make your own trail mix with almonds, walnuts, raisins and some granola. A bowl of edamame, sprinkled with salt, is high in fiber and protein.
The possibilities are endless. Whatever you decide, stay away from processed foods, high fructose corn syrup and artificial additives.
You don’t need to spend hundreds on a ritzy juice cleanse to become a juice head. Simply use your blender or juicer, if you have one, to combine variations of fruits and vegetables.
This is a great way to boost the amount of fruits and vegetables we get in a day and all the nutrients, minerals and antioxidants that come with them.
It’s important to note that juicers extract the juice from produce, leaving the pulp, which contains the dietary fiber, behind. Blenders include the pulp so you get more of the fiber that way. Y
ou can vary the type of juice, such as a green veggie juice, which would contain less sugar than a fruit juice, or you can make a protein drink by adding almond milk, yogurt, peanut butter or flaxseed.
You Are What You Drink
We often don’t pay as much attention to the health content of drinks as we do for food as if liquids are freebies because you don’t have to chew them. Sadly, this is not the case.
For example, there are more calories and fat in a Starbucks Grande Toffee Mocha Frap than there are in a McDonald's cheeseburger. I’m definitely not lovin’ that. Skip these milkshakes disguised as coffee, along with sugary sports drinks and soda.
Artificial sweeteners and diet drinks are also not the answer. Some studies have shown that these sweeteners may increase your body’s craving for sweet foods, making you more likely to eat more sweets than you would have otherwise.
A bit of brown sugar or honey to sweeten your food or drink is better for you than chemical sweeteners. Replenish with a tall glass of H2O instead of the alternatives.
Increase your water intake by having foods that contain water, such as oatmeal, soup, certain fruits and veggies.
Lastly, we heart wine, partly because it's good for your heart. Red wine has known properties that lower the risk of heart disease, and possibly prolong life. That's something we can all get behind.
Fermentation is a process in which the enzymes in organic substances, such as yeasts, cheeses and vegetables, break down the compounds in these foods, turning them into more readily digestible compounds and nutrients.
Essentially, fermentation enhances the nutrients in your food and makes it easier to digest.
Many foods and drinks are the result of fermentation. Beer is brewed by fermenting grains and wine is a product of using yeast to turn fruit juice into alcohol.
Yogurt is made by the bacterial fermentation of milk, which is why you often see advertised that yogurt is “probiotic.” Sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles are also all made by fermentation. You can easily try fermenting at home with nothing more than some chopped up vegetables, a mason jar and sea salt.
Fermenting vegetables in salt water creates healthy bacteria that acts as a natural preservative, making your superfoods even more nutriciously powerful.
Do A Shot
Don’t get too excited, as we're talking about a wheatgrass shot. But, actually, get excited again! Juice shots are an easy, natural way to get a boost of energy, vitamins and nutrients.
If you’re not feeling great, do a shot with ginger, lemon juice, carrots and garlic. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe body aches and pain, garlic and lemon boost your immune system and carrots are full of antioxidants.
Ginger also has energizing effects and can be mixed lemon, and cayenne pepper to detoxify and boost your metabolism.
The popular wheatgrass shot contains Vitamins C and E, along with antioxidants. Apple cider vinegar is antimicrobial and can kill harmful bacteria. It also may lower blood sugar and blood pressure, and can be taken as a shot or combined with water.
Aloe vera juice is also anti-inflammatory, can keep you regular and can boost your immune system. Make a routine of finishing dinner with a shot of this healthy goodness and you will be on your way to the new you!