Contributed by Sue Moores, M.S., R.D., Kowalski's Nutritionist
With a couple months of 2019 under your belt, here's hoping your belt is fitting the way you want it to. Dieting and eating better are popular resolutions, but it's common for enthusiasm to begin waning right about now, especially if the plan you're trying out is pretty strict. Here are a few ideas to help you keep on keeping on.
Revisit the "diet."
The Keto, Paleo and Whole 30 diets were popular "eat better, lose weight" picks this past year. All are effective for shedding pounds and removing less-healthy foods and ingredients from your kitchen. However, none of these diets are all that enjoyable to follow for the long haul, and all have some major nutrition gaps because of the foods they eliminate. Over time those gaps can put a dent in your health.
- Paleo and Whole 30 eliminate grains, beans and dairy. Whole 30 allows fruit, while paleo limits it.
- Keto severely minimizes grains, beans and fruit while limiting dairy.
Whole grains and beans are chock-full of the type of fiber that feeds the good, essential bacteria in your gut – often in quantities greater than the fiber found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Whole grains and beans also contain different types of phytonutrients (powerful health-promoting plant-based chemicals) than fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. The more phytonutrients you can get from whole foods, the bigger the benefit to your body. Fat, meat, fish and poultry, which are big players in these diet plans, don't have fiber or phytonutrients. And with little to no dairy foods in the mix, key nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin D may be missing, too.
Transition to a winning mix.
The Mediterranean Diet consistently wins as one of the healthiest eating plans around and one of the most enjoyable to follow.
The majority of this plate is filled with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, whole grains and/or beans. Fish is on the menu at least twice a week; red meat, less so. Extra virgin olive oil is much preferred to saturated fats such as coconut oil and butter. Added sugars and highly processed meats, grains, oils, etc., are discouraged. Part and parcel to the Mediterranean way of eating is to slow down, enjoy and savor the good wholesome nature of food. It's about the food and the lifestyle.
Get in on trends.
This is an adventuresome and tasty way to bump up the health quotient of your diet, as many trends lean toward unique, whole and wholesome foods. Nuts and seeds, including tahini, continue to soar in popularity. So do plant-based "milks," like protein-rich oat milk; "meats" made from vegetables and/or whole grains; prebiotic fibers that feed good gut bacteria; and fermented foods, mushrooms and elderberries.
Perk up your healthy eating goals with ideas that are fun, flavorful and more than doable for life. That will keep the wind in your resolution sails all year long.