The Nutrition Rx

posted by Susan Kleiner
filed under diet postings

Have you ever heard the saying, "Small things make a big difference"? When it comes to your diet, setting small, realistic goals is the key to making changes that last a lifetime. Try meeting these tiny nutrition targets throughout the year and see. Once you get one down, move on to the next one that makes sense for you.

1. Drink 10 glasses of fluid each day, making at least five of them water.

Staying well hydrated isn't automatic. Since our thirst mechanisms don't kick in until we're already mildly dehydrated, you need to have a fluid plan, just like you have a food plan.

2. Eat breakfast.

It's not just cereal industry hype; breakfast really is our most important meal of the day. Not only does it restart your metabolic engines after the night's shutdown, but it also gives you the necessary nutrients to get your mind and body working at peak capacity.

3. Strive for five—servings of fruits and vegetables, that is.

The nutrients, phytochemicals, and fibers in fruits and vegetables are directly linked to your health. The more you eat, the lower your risks for cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.

4. Eat at least three servings of fish every week.

Fish, especially the fatty varieties like salmon, mackerel, halibut, black cod, rainbow trout, and shellfish, are plentiful in Omega-3 fatty acids. These special fats have a protective effect on blood cholesterol levels and help prevent blood clotting, a cause of strokes. Fish is a fabulous source of protein, too.

5. Swap high-fat desserts for lower-fat versions.

When it comes to those high-fat sweets that you like to treat yourself to on a daily basis, try the lower-fat versions. By switching from a 1/2-cup serving of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream (17 g fat, 260 kcals) to Haagen-Dazs raspberry sorbet (0 g fat and 100 kcals) on a daily basis, you'll save 17 g of fat and 160 calories a day. That's 1,120 calories a week, 4,800 calories in a 30-day month, 58,400 calories in a year ... or the equivalent of almost 17 pounds!

6. Eat at least three vegetarian meals every week that include plant sources of protein.

Beans, grains, and especially soy products are full of healthful food factors and phytochemicals that you'll never get in your diet without planning to eat them. You'll be increasing your fiber and decreasing your fat at the same time. So relax with a good cookbook, or browse the soy-product cooler case at the supermarket, and add some new meals to your weekly lineup.

7. A yogurt a day may keep intestinal problems away.

The bacteria primarily responsible for cultured yogurt is incredibly helpful to your digestive tract. Lactobacillus acidophilus will help fend off harmful bacteria such as those that cause food poisoning and intestinal flu. It reduces the risk of developing vaginal yeast infections, and it helps avoid the diarrhea that often occurs as a side effect of antibiotic therapy.

8. Incorporate a few tablespoons of nuts and seeds back into your diet.

Yes, peanut butter is back! And if you can keep it to a couple of tablespoons, you can even eat it out of the jar (as long as you label it yours). Nut butters, nuts, and seeds are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and the important antioxidant vitamin E. Adding back these long-lost treats will be great for the body as well as the taste buds.

9. Relax with a glass of red wine every day.

Studies from the University of California at Davis and Cornell University have suggested that an antioxidant contained in wine, known as resveratrol, is the ingredient that helps protect us against cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Pinot Noir is thought to contain twice as much resveratrol as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot.

10. Enjoy your food. Eating is a sensuous experience.

Stopping to enjoy your food is necessary to experience the feeling of satisfaction after a meal. That is why eating on the run always leaves you wanting more. Especially if you are on a weight-loss diet, take the time to enjoy your food. You'll soon find that less is more.

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