Eat These Vitamin-Rich Foods for a Healthy, Balanced Diet

vitamin d

 

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just eat a more balanced diet, it’s important to get enough vitamins every day in order to maintain your health. Vitamins help your body grow and function optimally by boosting immunity, maintaining eye health, keeping your bones strong, raising your energy levels and much, much more.

When your body doesn’t get the vitamins it needs, however, your health can suffer and your risk of developing health issues can increase.

Getting vitamins from food vs. supplements

You may be wondering, “What about supplements? Isn’t it just easier to take a vitamin supplement every day than try to get the right daily intake of vitamins from food?”

Although supplements can have their place in a healthy diet — especially for people who suffer from vitamin deficiencies — they’re not a replacement for a varied, well-balanced diet. Whole, vitamin-rich foods supply the optimal balance of compounds that your body absorbs and uses.

6 essential vitamins and foods that contain them

All the essential vitamins work together to maintain your bodily functions and promote optimal health. However, each vitamin also has its own role in assisting the body with specific functions. Below are the main functions of six of the essential vitamins, as well as examples of good food sources for each one.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is extremely important for healthy eyesight, red blood cell production, immune function, skin health, bones and teeth. It can be found in fortified milk, organ meats, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe and apricots.

B vitamins

There are eight B vitamins — B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, pantothenic acid, niacin, biotin and folic acid — and they have an important role in your body’s ability to create energy and release it when needed. They’re essential for proper nerve function and the formation of red blood cells, as well as a healthy metabolism, brain function, heart function and hormone production.

B vitamins can be found in meat, poultry, fish, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, yogurt, seafood and eggs.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is especially important when your body is under stress because it helps maintain a healthy immune system and repair damage. It also works as a disease-fighting antioxidant that keeps your cells healthy, improves your body’s iron absorption and promotes teeth and gum health.

Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, orange juice, kiwis, guavas, papayas, strawberries, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and dark leafy greens.

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is critical for the bone health, calcium absorption and proper immune system function. It can be found in milk, eggs, shiitake mushrooms and some seafood, including salmon, trout and oysters.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage. It also works with the B vitamins to create red blood cells and helps your body use vitamin K and repair muscle cells.

Foods that contain vitamin E include bell peppers, asparagus, sunflower seeds, almonds and dark leafy greens like Swiss chard and spinach.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential to forming blood clots, and without it, a person could bleed to death from a small cut. It also helps maintain bone health. Foods containing vitamin K include dark leafy greens, asparagus, parsley, broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Eating a well-balanced diet full of whole foods is the best way to ensure your body is getting all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay healthy and function at its optimal level. Incorporate a variety of the foods listed above into your daily diet — your body will thank you!


Smart Healthy Eating Strategies to Get You Through the Holidays

healthy eating

 

The holidays are quickly approaching, which means it’s time to plan your healthy eating strategy for the season. Because most holidays are food-focused, they can cause a large intake of calories and throw your otherwise-healthy lifestyle off track.

Prevent the holidays from sabotaging your healthy lifestyle by putting a plan in place for handling all the extra food and drinks that will come your way during the season. Follow the tips below to celebrate guilt-free!

Plan activities that don’t center on food

Whether you’re hosting a holiday gathering or going to someone else’s house, keep some activities in your back pocket to take you away from the snack table. For example, bring a few favorite board games or set up some simple physical activities that children and adults can enjoy, like a bean bag toss or a relay race.

If you enjoy running or walking, sign your family up for a local 5K event. There are always a ton of turkey trots, jingle bell 5Ks and other holiday-themed races at this time of year. If you’ve never done one, you’ll be hooked after your first race!

Not only will these ideas get your mind off food, but they’ll give everyone something fun to do together. And isn’t that really what the holidays are about?

Avoid skipping meals

Many people make the mistake of skipping meals on the day of a holiday party to “save” their calories for the event. Skipping meals is unhealthy, however, as it leads to poor food choices and often results in overeating.

Instead, eat small meals and snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your appetite controlled. When you get to the party, you won’t risk derailing your diet because you’re starving.

Practice mindful eating

The most important thing to practice is being mindful about your food choices and portion control. When you’re mindful about selecting your food, you’ll choose a satisfying portion instead of piling your plate high. You’ll take a small amount of an “indulgent” food to enjoy and balance it out with healthier foods, rather than filling your entire plate with unhealthy choices.

The best part of mindful eating? When you pay attention to what you eat, you’ll actually taste and appreciate your food! Eating mindlessly, on the other hand, always results in the realization that you didn’t enjoy the ton of calories you just consumed.

Make food swaps

As you make your holiday cooking plan, choose your ingredients carefully to keep your dishes on the healthier side. For example, prepare traditional stuffing with whole wheat or whole grain bread rather than white bread. Make a cauliflower mash in place of the traditional mashed potatoes. Substitute whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour in your favorite baking recipes.

Limit your cocktail consumption

The empty calories in alcoholic beverages add up. If you want to enjoy your favorite cocktail occasionally throughout the season without overdoing it, add some mineral water or seltzer to it to keep it light.

 

While food and drinks are certainly a great part of the festivities, holiday celebrations are not just about eating. Focus on the joyous, giving spirit of the season and enjoy spending time with your family, friends and colleagues.


9 Tips for Eating Out After Weight Loss Surgery

eating out after weight loss surgery

Eating out is one of America’s favorite pastimes. For people trying to stick to a diet or make smart dining decisions after weight loss surgery, however, navigating restaurants can be tricky.

Luckily, you don’t have to completely forego eating out in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. All you need is to be strategic about where, what and how often you eat out. Follow these smart and simple tips to eat out and eat healthy after weight loss surgery

Eat a light lunch

Are you planning on eating out for dinner? Many people try to compensate for a more indulgent dinner by skipping lunch. But the fact is, skipping lunch is a strategic disaster. By the time you take your seat for dinner, you’re ravenous. And ravenous people don’t make the best eating decisions. (Consider the bottomless bread basket.)

So instead of foregoing lunch, have something light. A salad with some chicken is a good bet. Then, in the afternoon, stave off hunger with a small snack, such as a handful of almonds.

Know before you go

Before you decide on a restaurant, read the menu and confirm that the restaurant has healthy options that adhere to your diet.

Nowadays, you can even find nutritional information on restaurant websites, including calorie, fat and carb counts. Read the menu carefully and thoroughly, and don’t go on menu item names alone. Just because a steak with Gorgonzola and pan-fried veggies is labeled as “lite” doesn’t mean it is.

Consult your weight loss surgeon or dietician regarding what foods you should avoid and what foods you should eat. Generally, you want a balance of lean proteins (fish, chicken), complex carbs (brown rice, whole wheat pasta) and monounsaturated fats (canola or olive oil).

Decide what you will order before you get to the restaurant, and stick to your decision.

Sit in a quiet area

This tip isn’t as obvious, but it’s important. Did you know that people who sit in more distracting areas of restaurants (such as by a window or in front of a TV) eat substantially more?

Noise makes it easier to lose track of how much you’re eating. So when you make your reservation, be sure to request a quiet table.

Don’t overdo the alcohol

As a rule of thumb, stick to one drink or one glass of wine with dinner. More drinks results in more calories — but not just calories from the drinks themselves.

Drinking alcohol before a meal also boosts short-term appetite and food consumption, according to a study at the University of Sussex. Alcohol may temporarily impair your body’s ability to feel full.

Send the bread or chips back

It’s tempting to dig into a bread basket or bowl of chips, but resist. Two or three pieces of bread and butter mean a couple hundred calories before you even place your order. A bowl of chips can contain 645 calories and 34 grams of fat.

Order first

Manners have their place, but it’s important to place your order first. Once you have decided on a healthy option, you don’t need to be tempted by your friend’s order of a burger and fries. Order first, and you won’t risk hearing the siren call of salty, fatty fried stuff.

Modify your order

Almost every restaurant will accommodate you if you want to modify your order. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the dish is prepared, what ingredients are used, and whether the restaurant can prepare a low-fat or low-calorie version of the dish.

Make special requests and ask about substitutions.

Be smart with salads

Salads aren’t always virtuous. Add heavy dressing, croutons, cheese or bacon, and you have a calorie-packed, fatty meal on par with regular entrees.

For instance, a house salad at Applebee’s is around 230 calories. Add dressing, and that calorie count more than doubles to 470 calories, close to the 12 oz. New York strip.

Looking for dressing? Request oil and vinegar on the side. That simple choice can save you up to 18 pounds per year.

Control your portions

It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Everything is bigger in Texas — especially the restaurant portions. Yes, Mom taught you to finish everything on your plate, but not when the plate is the size of a hubcap.

Leave about a third of your food on your plate. That step alone can help cut 300 calories off your meal. Best of all, you can take the remainder of the food home for another meal.

Eating out doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your diet. Be strategic, and you’ll enjoy your night out all the more for staying healthy.