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Diet Makeover: Clean up your diet

Author: Editor in Chief/Sunday, August 10, 2008/Categories: Health

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Diet Makeover: Clean up your diet

Time for a diet makeover. You've waited long enough, you've been dieting, now it's time to clean up your diet.

When you are deciding what to buy your family next time you go shopping, here are some healthy alternatives that will keep your family healthy.

Follow the principles of substitution. You can't always take something away, but you can substitute something bad for something healthy. And you can always substitute something healthy for something healthier.

Splenda instead of Sugar 
If you haven't tried Splenda, now is a great time to start. Introduce this sugar alternative to your family as soon as possible, especially young children. Splenda is sugar. It just doesn't carry as many calories as standard sugar and the taste is indistinguishable from sugar. But becareful, it is not absolutely calorie-free, like anything, it still has calories.

Oil instead of butter, margarine, fat
I highly doubt anyone still sells margarine in the United States, but if you have some, get rid of it. Trans fat (margarine) is just not healthy and very bad for you. If you use butter, it's time to switch to vegetable oil. Use vegetable oil for all your cooking and baking needs, there is no use for butter except for rare occasions. You can buy artificial butter flavor if you must have that taste. Butter is a saturated fat and will elevate your cholesterol. Be careful, even if you decide to use vegetable oil, use as minimal as possible, oil is still fat, and it still carries a large calorie burden.

Ground turkey instead of beef 
Believe it or not, it's very hard to tell the difference between ground turkey and ground beef. Anytime a recipe calls for ground beef, substitute ground turkey and see what happens. Turkey has less fat and less saturated fat. Beef is loaded with saturated fat, and that elevates your cholesterol. If you can, go with turkey, the cost usually is not much different.

Chicken or fish instead of beef
Use skinless chicken or fish instead of beef. Fish has omega-3 and omega-6 fats that are good for you. They lower your cholesterol and help your body eliminate bad cholesterol. Chicken also has less saturated fat than beef. Chicken may cost more, but whenever there is a sale, you need to stock up.

Whole grain instead of plain 
Always try to find whole grain products. Whole grain bread is much better for you than white bread. Whole grain has more fiber, which helps your body eliminate and lower cholesterol. You can also find whole grain pasta, noodles, flour, and many other items. Start your family on whole grain ad develop good habits from now on. There are also many multigrain choices. These are breads made with many different types of nuts and seeds, not just flour. These are also healthier than plain white bread.

Low carbohydrate pasta instead of pasta (even whole grain pasta is available) 
If you must have pasta, use low carbohydrate or whole grain pasta. The low carbohydrate and whole grain pastas are available at almost all grocery stores and are a better alternative to the regular pastas and they are indistinguishable in terms of taste. Always choose whole grain if you have the choice.

Fruit instead of cake, desert
Although this sounds like common sense, desert, sweets, candy, cake, and pastries are more common than you think. If it was up to me, I would ban sweets altogether and never allow anyone bake them. If you must have desert choose ones made with Splenda or other low calorie alternatives. Or you can choose fruit instead. Fruits are the healthiest alternative to deserts. Imagine apple, banana, and strawberry slices, with blueberries and raspberries in a big bowl with some light whipped cream on top? Can't resist, and it's better for you than deserts and cakes. Make sure the whip cream is light! Fruits contain many elements and antioxidants that are great for your heart.

Lettuce wrap instead of sandwich 
Instead of making a sandwich using bread, use lettuce wraps. Lettuce wraps are by far the greatest invention to hit the market in the last 10 years, and we can thank the Thai culture for this little nugget. They wrap everything in iceberg lettuce leafs and eat it. Chicken curry, peanut butter, cold cut meats, even slices of roast or ground beef. All goes well in lettuce wraps. And the good news is that lettuce leafs contain absolutely no calories whatsoever. Your body will spend more energy burning and processing the lettuce wraps than the amount of calories contained in them. What a great idea!

Oil spread instead of cheese
If you want to slather some cream cheese on a piece of bread and eat it, think again! Instead of putting cheese on bread, use olive oil. Imagine some garlic infused olive oil, on a toasted piece of multigrain, whole wheat slice of bread, tasty isn't it? If you can completely eliminate cheese from your diet, please do. Cheese contains a lot of saturated fat, and that raises your cholesterol.

Olive oil instead of other oils
If you must use oils, try to use olive oil, sunflower oil, flax seed oil, and safflower oil. These contain the least amount of saturated fats. And they taste better than just plain vegetable oil and canola oil. But remember, olive oil is still considered a fat, the less the better!

Stop taking vitamins and supplements
Unless you are severely malnourished, or plan to only eat lentils for a period of 5 years straight, you do not need supplements. Our diets already contain all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are necessary. It would take 5 years of absolute deprivation for our body's storage supply to run out of vitamin B12. Very little has been proven in terms of research with supplements and it is a major waste of money. But we like buying them, because we love quick fixes for all our problems. It;s a huge money making industry and is absolutely unregulated. Only one exception to this rule has been established; women who do not play sports and do not get enough calcium in their diets need to take calcium and vitamin D supplements. There are many prescription forms your physician can prescribe and a number of proven over the counter supplements. If you are not in this category, stop wasting your family's money!

This is a great beginner's guide to starting your family on a healthy eating plan! If you start them off on good habits, they will last a lifetime. The family that eats together, gains weight together!

Note: This does not constitute medical advise. Please check with your physician.

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