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January 3, 2012

Choose to Lose

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

Are your resolutions to eat better in 2012 slowly fading?  It's possible that your vows were too drastic to become long-term habits in the New Year, and beyond. 

Unfortunately, New Year's food resolutions usually involve deprivation.  It's more productive to make positive commitments to improving your lifestyle, however.  When you focus on including healthier foods it's easier to avoid temptation, but when you take away all of your favorite foods, you feel deprived and your good intentions are quickly derailed.

Here are my top picks for foods to choose this year.  All are relatively low in calories for the nutrients they provide, and many are high in fiber, which helps to keep hunger at bay.

Add Plant Foods

Use half as much ground beef or turkey in your favorite chili, lasagna, and pizza recipes by substituting plant foods, including legumes, such as black beans and garbanzo beans, for meat.  Beans qualify as vegetables, are cholesterol-free, have nearly no fat, and are rich in fiber.

Mushrooms are another sensible meat substitute. Like beans, chopped mushrooms may be used in place of meat and poultry in chili, lasagna, and pizza and work well in taco and stir-fry recipes, too.   You can substitute chopped mushrooms for up to 75% of meat in your favorite recipes. Look for Mushroom Pizza recipe in my next blog post. 

Pump Up the Protein

When you're dieting, it's possible to lose lean tissue, such as muscle, while shedding fat. In addition to protecting lean tissue, eating enough high-protein foods keeps you fuller for longer, naturally curbing calorie intake. 

Protein needs depend on daily calorie requirements, whether you want to maintain weight or shed some pounds. On a 2,000-calorie diet, you need between 50 to 175 grams of protein daily.  Aim for a level in the middle of the range, and not the bare minimum.  You need more protein beginning in your mid-20's when your body begins breaking down more muscle than it makes. Eating protein at every meal and snack provides your body with a constant supply of raw materials to keep lean tissue in top form.
Here are some protein-packed choices.

Food                                                                                    Protein (grams)
Chicken, pork, beef, salmon, tuna, 3 ounces, cooked               22

Hood Low Fat Cottage Cheese , 1/2 cup                                   14
Greek yogurt, fruit, fat-free, 6 ounces                                     14
Tofu, raw, 1/2 cup                                                                 10
Simply Smart Milk ,1 cup                                                        10
Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons                                                  9
Hood Milk, (1% low fat), 1 cup                                               8
Black beans, canned, drained, 1/2 cup                                    7
Egg, raw or cooked, large                                                      6

Go for the Whole Grain

Just 15% of Americans include three servings of whole grains in their diet every day, which is considered the minimum amount.  Like protein, whole grains help you feel full. They have more fiber than refined grains, such as white bread, crackers, and pasta, and they also naturally offer more nutrients. 

In addition, higher whole grain consumption is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Make it a point to eat at least three servings every day of whole grains. Here's a list of what's considered a serving:

• Whole grain, such as whole wheat, bread, bagel, English muffins, rolls: 1 ounce

• Whole grain cereal:  1/2 cup to 3/4 cup

• Cooked brown rice, whole wheat couscous, quinoa, whole wheat pasta: 1/2 cup

• Cooked oatmeal: 1/2 cup

• Popcorn: 3 cups popped (choose low-fat microwave varieties, or air-pop)


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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