Category Archives: Healthy Foods

5 Simple Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

How would you rate your eating habits?  Good? Bad? Or somewhere in the middle?

Are you willing to change your habits to ensure a healthy, nutritious way of eating?

If so, you are in luck – below are 5 simple guidelines for a healthy diet.

Rule #1

First and foremost . . .  buy all-natural, whole, unprocessed foods. Avoid packaged, prepared foods that are loaded with additives, fillers, and preservatives.

Guidelines for a Healthy Diet
Image by Tijana

Rule #2

Cook from scratch using high-quality, fresh ingredients. Instead of spending your hard-earned money on instant foods and packaged meals, learn to create dishes using fresh and healthy ingredients.

Prepare highly nutritious dishes without all the harmful additives, excessive sugars, and fats.

For example – Create casseroles using brown Basmati rice, low-fat milk, fresh vegetables, and lean meats or chicken. I guarantee there will be fewer calories (and no additives).

Yes – cooking from scratch takes more time to prepare and requires developing a rhythm for creating healthy dishes on a regular basis.

With practice, you will become more and more efficient and dinners will go together quickly.

You need to be on the lookout for tips and tricks on how to cook ahead (making a portion or all of the meal the night before – or cooking several meals on the weekend that you can freeze.

Then, you can have dinner on the table in under an hour. (A good place to start is with my book, Cook Ahead – Freezer to Table,)

Rule #3

Keep only healthy desserts and snacks in your pantry and fridge.

Children (and adults) love a tasty snack after school (or work).

  • Keep a freezer full of frozen snacks such as fruit juice popsicles and frozen fruit – blueberries and grapes are especially good.
  • Always have a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter (or in the fridge) – ready for kids to grab, peel and eat.
  • Place a bowl in the fridge of sliced fresh fruit or vegetables – with a dip. Low-fat sour cream and powdered sugar ready for sprinkling (or vanilla Greek yogurt) are great for fruit; and guacamole or hummus for the veggies.
  • Have cans or bags of nuts available for little hands to grab and eat.
  • Offer string cheese to nibble on. This provides quick protein for energy and calms the appetite until dinner.

Rule #4

Buy lean meats – Leaner cuts of meat are the best choice. Always cook a little more than your family will eat and use leftovers for healthier lunches and to create new dishes for an easy weekend meal.

Rule #5

Use healthier oils – My preference is olive oil, which is great for making salad dressings and also for cooking (but not for baking) – use pure canola oil for baking, when required.

If you are watching calories try scrambling eggs or sautéing foods, with cooking sprays. (My preference is PAM® Cooking Spray.) But, having said that, a little butter goes a long way and is much tastier.

There you have it – five simple guidelines for a healthy diet.

All you have to do is choose to follow them, and you will be on your way to a healthier, happier life.

You will look forward to each day with greater enthusiasm, you will have the energy to meet the demands of your busy life, and you will enjoy a wonderful sense of well-being.

The next post will include more specific suggestions on types of foods  to fill your pantry that will make eating healthy easier. 

 

Healthy Living is Back Online

Hope you missed me? I missed you!

I missed posting on “Healthy LIving.”

Couldn’t write because of a health issue – a cracked vertebrae. It was a long, slow healing process, but I have finally returned, fully recovered.

Promise to stay with you this time. Thank you for joining me. I appreciate every person who reads my blog.

Healthy Foods
Image by fo2Trends

Healthy living and a healthy diet are important topics for all of us – regardless of age. And….there is so much to learn.

If you are in weight-loss mode, or want to maintain a healthy weight, you will be interested in my new short series of articles – starting Monday.

“How to Choose the Best Drinks for a Successful Diet.” 

These articles have been Adapted with permission from the original article published on HVMN by Ryan Rodal

It is a well-researched and includes a long list of references. I will include it at the end of first posting in the series – just in case you want to learn more.

Would love your comments and thoughts.

It’s good to be back!

All my best – Hope you are well and living healthy.

Nancy

 

Mediterranean Diet Is Not for Everyone

For the past few weeks I have been talking about the merits of the Mediterranean Diet. However, I have to acknowledge that no diet is perfect for every single person and Mediterranean diet is no exception to that rule. The Mediterranean Diet is not for everyone.

There may be some people who find that they have negative reactions to some of the foods on the diet – others may find that it simply is not suitable for their lifestyle.

Excellent Choice for Most People

Explaining the Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

However, it is an excellent choice for most people because the health benefits are tremendous. Lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, reduced risk of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and much more.

The diet is based on consuming wholesome fresh foods in their natural state and by cooking them in a healthy ways.

Red meats are eaten only on occasion; sugar, processed foods filled with additives, fast foods, and junk food, which are the cause of so many illnesses in today’s world are simply not eaten.

It should not be news that most health problems in the US can be attributed to a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

The Mediterranean diet solves both problems, if you let it. It provides the healthy nutritious foods your body needs for energy and well-being; plus, it incorporates exercise to solve the sedentary lifestyle issue.

Potential Difficulties

Let’s look at some of the potential difficulties.

1. The diet can be expensive.

When you eat primarily fish, fresh (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables, nuts, etc. you will find that they are more expensive than grabbing a cheeseburger from a fast food joint or buying junk food from the vending machine at work.

But . . . if you consider the health problems you may endure in the future and the cost of health care that goes with those problems, you may want to think twice about the actual cost. The healthy foods on the Mediterranean diet may not seem so expensive after all.

2. Possible food allergies.

It is possible that some people may have allergic reactions to some of the foods in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil may not agree with their digestive system, etc. It happens. If you have serious reactions to any of the foundational foods of the diet, you would probably want to choose another diet – just make sure it is a healthy one.

3. The toxicity of fish.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish and is one of the most toxic foods on the market today because of pollution in the world’s waterways

Educate yourself and find out which fish are richest in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lowest in mercury contamination, and sustainably produced. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) there are better (and worse) choices when buying fish.  Check out their website for details on how to buy fish – The EWG’s Seafood Guide.

You can also get your omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as flaxseed, walnuts and Brussel sprouts.

4. Cost and availability of fruits and vegetables.

It may not always be easy to obtain fresh seasonal produce and some of the more common choices in the Mediterranean Region may not be available in your area – or the cost will be prohibitive – especially for organic.

Easy to Adapt?

Will it be easy to adopt the Mediterranean Diet with a full commitment?  Maybe not.  It may take some serious adjustment and determination to stay with it.

As Americans we are used to eating whatever we want, whenever we want it. If we are feeling hungry or blue – grab that tub of ice-cream. When we are bored, frustrated or angry, we reach for comfort foods like a bucket of fried chicken with mashed potatoes and biscuits form KFC.

Food has become far more than sustenance for many people. It is frequently used as a form of ‘medication’ for emotional problems. It that plays into your eating patterns, staying with any diet will be challenging.

When you start the Mediterranean Diet it can take time to adapt to the practice of thinking about what you are eating and being willing to make healthy choices. Eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes with thick gravy is not encouraged. The tub of ice cream should be replaced with a bowl of sweet, healthy fruit that is preferably high in fiber.

Such dramatic changes in your approach to food and eating habits may not sit well with some people. It may be too different and troublesome. Maybe that will be the case initially. But, you know that anything worthwhile often has challenges that must be faced. Major accomplishments rarely come easily.

Adopt the Mediterranean Diet!  Give it your best shot (including your time and energy), keep a positive attitude no matter what, and you may be surprised at how fast you realize that this is diet you want to stay with the rest of your life.

Your body and health will reflect the benefits of this diet in time . . . give it a real chance!

 

Mediterranean Diet Shopping List

Hopefully you are convinced (as I am) that the Mediterranean diet is fantastic. It has proven to be a healthy way of life for many people – why not you? Unlike other diets such as the Atkins diet or Paleo diet there is little debate over whether or not it is good for you.

Of course, we have established that it is also quite different from other diets because it is more about food choices and cooking methods – a way of eating – rather than focusing on restrictions. In fact, it doesn’t really even talk about portion control. Although, I do recommend that you use good sense and eat moderately.

Other than that, this is one of the best diets on the planet. It’s tasty, easy to follow, and has multiple health benefits, such as:  reducing your risk of getting nasty diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Also – if you need to lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol . . . the Mediterranean diet is for you. If you want to live a long and healthy life . . . you got it! The Mediterranean diet is for you.

It you are focusing on clean eating, this is a diet that allows you to follow that philosophy, eat well, and enjoy the food.

The diet itself is quite simple and very flexible. You should be able to find most of the food at your local supermarket.

Mediterranean Diet Shopping List

The diet can be broken down into a few groups, which makes it easy to shop:

  • Whole grains
  • Healthy oils & fats
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Yogurt and cheese
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Herbs and spices

That’s pretty much it. There may be a few other items, but for the most part, if you stick to these eight categories, you will be eating healthy.

Whole Grains

Please notice it says “whole grains.” In fact, look for the word “whole” or 100% whole wheat or whole grain on the label. Examples would be whole grain bread or whole grain pasta. Good whole grain items would be: pasta, tortillas, bread, oatmeal, cereals, polenta, brown rice, quinoa, barley and pita.

Whole wheat bread dipped in olive oil is a tasty treat.

Healthy Oils

Mediterranean DietHealthy oils are a key ingredient In the Mediterranean diet. Replace butter with healthy fats – especially extra-virgin olive oil, which is excellent for cooking and on salads.

Other suggested oils are: canola, grape seed, sesame, and avocado oil. In the Mediterranean diet, the staple oil used is olive oil. Oils have lots of calories, so try to limit yourself to no more than three tablespoons per day.

Keep the oils in a cool, dark place so that they last longer.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are another group of healthy fats. You must be a little cautious with this group, they are calorie dense. Don’t go nuts with the nuts. Consume them in moderation or you will end up adding pounds you do not want.

A handful a day will provide our body with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Buy them in bulk and pack them in small snack bags – limiting yourself to one bag per day.

Almonds, cashews, flax, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pine nuts are all good choices.

Vegetables and Fruits

Fruits and Vegetables
Image by by Erdosain

These are nutrition-packed foods filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Always buy fresh, organic produce when it is available. Seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables should be eaten daily.

Frozen fruits and veggies are also fine as long as they are quick frozen with nothing added. Avoid canned vegetables, if possible. If you must use canned, be they are low sodium.

Vegetables – you have many choices:  All the green leafy vegetables, plus broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, celery, onions, radishes, tomatoes, squash, beets, mustard greens, avocados, green peppers, etc. Obviously, it is a long list!

Fruits are eaten in place of sweets on this diet. Recommended are: apples, cherries, dates, peaches, kiwi, mango, papaya, grapefruit, oranges, melons, and strawberries.  Again . . . buy organic if at all possible; or, you may be ingesting pesticides that are harmful to your body. If not organic, wash extremely well and peel if possible.

Yogurt and Cheese

Dairy is not a major focus on the diet. It is usually eaten in the form of yogurt and cheese.  Both are good options as a calcium source. Stay with whole natural cheeses and plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt (need sweet, add a little honey).

Seafood

Baked SalmonSeafood is heavily consumed in the Mediterranean region. Shrimp, salmon, cod, clams, tilapia, tuna, sardines, scallops and crab are excellent seafood choices and are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs are also eaten as a source of protein and a regular part of the diet. Chicken is also served on occasion.  Red meat is eaten rarely – so go very easy on this one.

Lentils and Beans

These are high in protein but low in fats and calories. You have many choices: lentils, chickpeas, clack beans, pinto beans and white beans.

Herbs and Spices

Use fresh or dried herbs and spices to season your food and enhance the flavors. You will not need to use salt or unhealthy fats to make your food tasty. Garlic, mint, cumin, coriander, parsley, basil, oregano, cilantro and pepper are good choices.

Don’t forget the garlic – a favorite in the Mediterranean Region.

Red Wine

Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

I know this isn’t one of the categories – and is optional on the diet. But if you enjoy good red wine, a glass each evening is encouraged (one for women and no more than two for men).

That pretty much sums it up. The diet is primarily focused on fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and seafood with limited poultry and practically no red meat plus minimal sweets – all good reasons why it is so healthy.

Shop wisely and ENJOY!

Anti-Aging Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

Jonathan Swift said, “Everybody wants to live forever, but nobody wants to grow old.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stay healthy and young and live as long as possible? Because that is a deep down desire of the majority, many people are always on a quest to slow down the aging process.

So, our question for today is:

What are the Anti-Aging Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?

First, we must acknowledge that no diet in the world can halt or slow the aging process. Aging is inevitable and food is not the elixir of life – although the type of food you choose can lengthen or shorten your life.

What has been proven by numerous studies is that the Mediterranean diet lessens your risks of getting certain diseases. It also offers a range of health benefits that will allow you to age in a healthy way. When you whole-heartedly adopt the Mediterranean way of eating, you will reduce your risk of health problems such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, heart diseases, etc.

That alone can be classified as anti-aging. Old age is often associated with health problems. If you can grow old and maintain your health, that would be a fine way to live. The Mediterranean diet can help you do that.

Typical Junk-Food Diets are the American Way

Unfortunately, the standard diet for most Americans is filled with junk food, sugary sodas, fast foods and processed, additive-filled food, etc. – basically empty calories.

Obesity is an epidemic. People eat whatever is the most convenient with little regard for their health. This is very upsetting and dangerous for the population as a whole.

There is a wide assumption that healthy food is not delicious. People believe that to eat healthy they must live on a steady diet of raw carrots and steamed chicken breasts. As a result, they choose not to do so. They would much rather have a fast-food burger and cheese fries – it’s easier and tastier.

What they don’t know is that the Mediterranean Diet is filled with DELICIOUS AND HEALTHY food, which is why people in the Mediterranean Region often live healthier and longer lives than Americans.

Why the Med-Diet Is Better for Your Health

The foundation of the Med-Diet is fresh vegetables. In the US, vegetables are typically an afterthought, with unhealthy choices like French-fried potatoes classified as vegetables.

When you make vegetables the center of your meals, you will get your daily dose of antioxidants to fight the free radicals in your body; plus give your body necessary nutrients and keep your skin healthy and supple.

Fruit is another important part of the Med-diet. They are filled with nutrients and rich in fiber, which slows down digestion so you do not get hungry as quickly. The fruit also prevents sugar cravings.

Refined sugar is at the root of many health problems, plus it causes your body to age more quickly. Just reducing your sugar intake will benefit you immensely, including making you less likely to get Type 2 Diabetes.

The diet is also rich in fish and nuts – both excellent sources of protein and healthy omega-6 fatty acids, which protect your from losing lean muscle and developing osteoporosis.

Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

A glass of red wine after dinner that is suggested in the diet (a common practice in the Mediterranean) has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. A limited amount of red wine can be beneficial to your health – unlike beer, vodka or bourbon.

The Mediterranean diet will definitely benefit your health tremendously, when you adopt it as a way of life. As long as you exercise regularly and eat in moderation, you are more likely to live a long and healthy life – and age with style and grace.

If you have not already made the decision to try this new way of eating that definitely includes some anti-aging benefits, I encourage you to do so ASAP!