If your personal food pyramid replaces “Grains” with “Pizza” and “Fruits and Vegetables” with “Taco Sauce,” it’s time to make some changes.
Step 1: Eat whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible. This means fresh or frozen fruits instead of canned, whole grains instead of enriched flour, brown rice instead of white rice, and as little fast food as possible.
TIP: Avoid 'low-fat' or 'zero-calorie' processed foods, as they typically have more sugar and salt. Refining grains also removes bran, which contains most of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Step 2: Follow the FDA’s recommendations to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Try sprinkling berries in your cereal, drinking a fruit smoothie or juice, and adding extra veggies to your pasta sauce, pizza, casseroles, and even sandwiches.
TIP: An official serving size is: a medium piece of fruit, a ½ cup of chopped fruit, ¾ cup of pure juice, a ¼ cup of dried fruit, a ½ cup raw or cooked vegetables, or a cup of leafy vegetables.
Step 3: Pay attention to what, how much, and how often you eat. Absentminded eating is one of the greatest threats to successful weight management and long-term health.
TIP: Don’t multitask when eating. You’ll often stuff your face with nutritionally poor foods that are convenient but not healthy.
Step 4: Try to drink 64 ounces of non-caffeinated fluids every day—the majority of which should be plain, pure water. A glass with every meal will help your digestion, keep you full, and help your mood—and if you drink it before eating, it can stave off hunger pangs.
Step 5: Eat fish twice a week: it’s packed with top-quality protein, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that can protect your heart and brain from damage and disease.
Step 6: It’s okay to splurge and eat something less-than-healthy now and then, just be sure to watch out how much and how often.
FACT: The diet industry in the United States rakes in over $40 billion a year.