Even if you know how to read a nutrition label, and know what macro and micronutrients are, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you know which foods to eat that will give your body the nutrients it requires. For some, there are so many options at the grocery store that it can be overwhelming. For others, access to healthy, fresh foods is a daily struggle.
- If you are unsure how to read a nutrition label, click here.
- If you don’t know what nutrients are, click here.
First, I will go over which types of foods you should look for and include in your diet, and where you can find them. Then I will go over which foods you should limit, or avoid. Lastly, I will include a list of foods and their macro/micronutrient profile so that you can make informed choices.
Also consider checking out the following related pages:
- How to Cut Down on Calories
- How to Keep Motivated: Create Healthy Habits
- How to Keep Motivated: Eat For the Long Term
Foods to Include:
For the most part, when you walk into a supermarket, you will notice that all of the fresh foods – meats, dairy, vegetables, and fruits – are located on the perimeter (or walls) of the store. Packaged, processed, and frozen foods will be located in the inside isles.
With a only a few exceptions (frozen fruits and vegetables being one), the bulk of your shopping cart should be full of items from the perimeter of the store. A good rule of thumb is the fewer ingredients on a nutrition label, and less processed a food is, the more micronutrients it will contain (vitamins & minerals).
Try incorporating a variety of different vegetables and herbs into your diet. If you have never eaten/heard of a particular vegetable, do a bit of experimenting – you may find that it becomes one of your family’s new favorites.
Stock your pantry full of different easy to grab snacks such as dried un-sugared fruits, nuts, and jerky. There are a number of grains, beans, and pastas that make wonderful, cheap, and quick dishes. Look for pastas and breads that say ‘100% whole grain’ and consider keeping quinoa (KEEN-wah) on hand; It’s a great alternative to rice, and is much faster to cook. Quinoa is full of protein, fiber, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6. Beans (Legumes) are very cheap, and very high in protein and fiber. You can get them dried (which need to hydrate for about 8 hours) or canned, that can be used right away. One of my favorite easy meals is black beans and rice with BBQ chicken breast and onion/bell pepper sauté. Recipe here.
As far as drinks go, water is your best bet. But if you do not like the taste of water, or prefer carbonated drinks, there are definitely some great alternatives to juice and soda. Club soda and sparkling water are excellent zero calorie drinks. I keep large mason jars filled with different flavored waters in my fridge for a refreshing drink. For a number of flavor combinations, click here.
If you do not have access to a market that has fresh fruits and vegetables, then great alternatives would be dried/dehydrated, and frozen fruits and vegetables. Most are picked at the peak of harvest; frozen vegetables retain all of their nutrients, and dehydrated vegetables loose only a small percentage of vitamins. Many online stores can sell and ship you dried/dehydrated and/or canned produce that can be made into stews, soups, and dishes. You may also consider growing your own produce and canning or dehydrating the extra yourself – seeds are very inexpensive.
*For cooking tips and a few of my favorite recipes, click here.
Foods to Limit and Avoid:
Growing up, my mother always said ‘everything in moderation.’ I also have the same motto – when we completely take out the foods that we love, eating becomes a boring, exhausting chore and we quickly slip back into our old way of eating. There are tons of healthy spins you can put on your not so healthy favorites, or you can just have those indulgences on the occasion.
*For ways to make your recipes healthier, click here. (in progress)
The following foods should be limited, or eaten on the occasion:
- High fat meats such as ribs, bacon, and breakfast sausages.
- Doughnuts, pastries, and fried foods(especially commercially made).
- Fast foods & dinning out.
- Full-calorie sodas, milkshakes, smoothies, and fancy coffees.
- Empty calorie foods such as chips, candies, cookies, and alcohol.
The following foods should be avoided as studies have indicated that they are detrimental to our health:
- Any foods containing:
- Potentially harmful, but current studies are inconclusive. Limit at your own discretion:
Foods and their Nutrient Profile:
Below is a printable list on different foods. Click Here. (in progress)
This list currently shows:
- Calories per 100 grams
- Macronutrients (Fats, Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fiber)
- Micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals)