Healthy Eating Cheat Sheet

What should I eat?

If you're like most people, you've said that several times when you're trying to stay healthy and maintain the right weight - but there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut, one-size-fits-all answer. Before you can decide how to proceed, you need a clear picture of your current health. That can require you to monitor your blood pressure and keep tabs on your diet, so you have a grasp on your starting point. Don't forget to talk to your doctor before starting a new diet or exercise regimen, too, so you can be sure you're not taking unnecessary risks.

Healthy Foods to Eat

You don't have to be a nutritionist to know that some foods are healthier than others, and you can make great choices while you're grocery shopping. Depending on what your body needs most (if you're performing hardcore aerobics five days a week, you'll have different dietary needs for healthy eating than someone who enjoys a brisk, 30-minute walk in comfortable athletic shoes). These foods can provide essential vitamins and nutrients:
  • Spinach. Just one cup of spinach provides 5 grams of protein, and it'll only cost you 41 calories. It's rich in vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants and folate.
  • Tomatoes. Packed with lycopene, this hard-charging antioxidant can help reduce your risk of some cancers and coronary artery disease. One cup of tomatoes provides 6 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and 75 percent of the potassium you need each day. Tomatoes are brimming with vitamins A and K, too, and you'll only consume 139 calories in one.
  • Artichoke. For a 60-calorie investment, you'll net 4.2 grams of protein and twice as much fiber as kale (there's about 10.3 grams in a medium artichoke). Artichokes can also help you lose stubborn belly fat, and it leaves you feeling full (thanks to all that fiber).
  • Tart cherries. Studies show that tart cherries help your heart stay healthy, and they may help you lose belly fat, too.
If you're not getting enough vitaminsby eating healthy food, you can supplement. Remember, though, that you should talk to your doctor before you make any major dietary changes or embark on a weight-loss program. Only your physician can give you the customized advice you need when it comes to something this important.

Can Fast Food Be Healthy?

There are a few healthy fast-food chains, but they're not as plentiful as they'd like you to believe. Your best bet is to carefully choose a combination of fresh produce and meat, canned foods (especially those with low sodium or high fiber, as long as they're low on sugars and carbs) and good-for-you snacks. When you create your own meals - even to-go - you'll save calories and money.

Weight Loss Meal Prepping

When you put your meals together - particularly when you're trying to lose weight and eat healthier - make sure you include a vegetable, some protein and starch. It's definitely worth looking for healthy food recipes. People are more likely to stick with dietary changes when there's a variety of options available and when meals contain all the nutrients they need. Here are some solid choices for vegetables, proteins, and starches:
Good veggies:
  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Avocado
Good meats:
  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey breast
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Egg whites
Good starches:
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (brown, jasmine or black)
  • Potatoes
  • Rolled oats
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Oatbran
  • Farro
  • Couscous

Easy to Prep Recipes

Eating healthy is easier if food prep is easier, so check out these simple healthy food recipes to create the perfect body-friendly dishes:
  • Overnight oats. Layer a half-cup of oats, one tablespoon of chia seeds, and half a sliced banana in a glass jar. Add a half-cup of unsweetened almond milk and close the jar; shake until it's completely combined. Refrigerate the mixture overnight. You'll have a delightfully tasty breakfast waiting for you in the morning.
  • Bean bowls. Mix cooked brown rice, a can of black beans, a splash of salsa and a dab of guacamole for a super-easy lunch that's packed with flavor and light on calories.
  • Salad jars. Add a tablespoon of salad dressing to the bottom of a glass jar. Toss in crunchy vegetables, like celery, carrots, cucumbers and broccoli. Add protein, like chicken or diced steak, and put in your favourite toppings (like dried fruit, fresh herbs, seeds or nuts). Put your leafy greens on top - spinach is best, but lettuce will do - and close the jar. When you're ready to eat, shake, remove the lid and enjoy!

How Often Should You Eat?

While there's no hard-and-fast rule about when you should eat healthy foods - again, everyone has his or her own dietary needs. However, it's often a good idea to eat within an hour of waking up to stabilize your blood sugar levels. After breakfast, just pay attention to your body's hunger cues. From there, eat slowly, and stop eating before you feel full.

How Much Fiber Is Good?

While your diet and activity levels determine how regular you are, the truth is that most people could benefit from more fiber than they're actually getting. Check out these high-fiber foods to find something you could get attached to:
  • Raspberries
  • Prunes
  • Figs
  • Guava
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Avocado
  • Quinoa
  • Flaxseed meal
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds

Controlling Sugar Intake

High-sugar drinks like soda and sweetened tea can overwhelm your system and throw everything off-balance - including your scale. It's always a good idea to cut out sugary beverages and foods packed with too much sweetener. To do that, you need to know a few of the names companies use to represent sugar on the packaging. There's a good chance a food manufacturer means some form of sugar when a package says:
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Barley malt
  • Cane juice or dehydrated cane juice
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Malt
  • Maltodextrin
  • Rice syrup
  • Sucrose

How to Snack Healthier

Stocking up on healthy foods and snacks - and not buying unhealthy ones - can go a long way toward keeping your body running like a well-oiled machine. The key is to buy healthy snacks and make them easily accessible. Just like it's easy to grab a bag of chips, it's easy to grab a bag of washed grapes or sliced strawberries. Granted, it takes a little time to prep your healthy food, but you're more likely to eat them if you put them in easy-to-grab plastic bags on the refrigerator door. You can also set aside natural and organic snacks, cookies and chips - just remember that organic doesn't always mean low-sugar or low-calorie.

Shop to find vitamins and supplements, wearable fitness trackers, exercise machines and more to complement your healthy eating goals today.

Last updated: May 23, 2018

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