Everyone, including me, wants to eat smarter and feel more healthy.
With every news report we hear, we become increasingly aware of the link between our health and what we eat.
Heck, that is the main reason I started this blog nearly 5 years ago.
My recent lab work after my routine physical check-up emphasized a few areas of improvement for me…
- despite my high HDL cholesterol, I still need to lower my LDL.
- I am at risk for prediabetes.
- I need to lose some weight.
I believe some of you share these issues too, whether you know it or not.
Therefore, I want to share my doctor’s advice she gave me.
By adding one of these steps each week to your daily routine, you will eat smarter and feel more healthy in just 12 weeks.
Disclaimer: before starting any weight-loss plan or exercise regiment, consult with a physician, especially if you are currently taking medication under a doctor’s care.
Staying hydrated is step one
We know the importance of drinking water as mentioned in my previous post Four Ways to Adopt Healthier Eating Habits.
Week 1: Set a water intake goal of at least 3 liters/101 ounces/12 cups.
I use a premeasured bottle so I know exactly how much I am drinking.
Although proteins supply our body with energy, they usually provide less than one-fifth of the calories in our average diet.
They help carry fats, minerals, and other products in the blood. Proteins also make antibodies, enzymes, and repair body tissue.
Found in both animal and vegetable foods, the amino acid content can vary.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, but the ESSENTIAL ones cannot be made by the body in sufficient amounts; they must be obtained from foods.
Animal proteins are considered “complete.” Plant proteins are considered “incomplete.”
But if you eat a variety of “incomplete” proteins in the same meal, they will complement each other to provide good quality protein.
Week 2: Eat a variety of lean proteins like eggs, skinless poultry, or seafood. If you eat red meat, get the leanest cut available.
Fruit and vegetables
Full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals but low in fat and calories, fruit and vegetables are a vital part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Eating a varied selection is important because different fruit and vegetables contain different types of beneficial nutrients.
Week 3: Each day fill half of your plate, at each meal, with fruit and vegetables.
Your selections can include almost any fruit or vegetable, except for starchy ones, such as potatoes, yams, and cassavas.
Week 4: Eat at least one full serving of fruit each day.
My doctor says having a protein and at least one vegetable with every meal will make you feel full.
Carbs are a bit tricky since most of the food we eat contains carbs, including sugars and starches.
They provide our body with energy and fiber which is vital to our digestive system.
However, eating too many carbs can result in a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
My doctor recommends just limiting carbs like bread, pasta, and rice to one serving size per meal, or about 25% of your plate.
Whenever possible pick brown rice, whole grain, or whole wheat.
Week 5: Reduce your carbohydrate intake. Buy only brown rice, whole grain, or whole wheat products.
Avoiding high sugar/processed foods and limiting carbohydrates are a must for anyone diagnosed with prediabetes.
Being overweight makes it difficult for the body to balance calories and glucose.
Juices and Sodas
You may think juices offer a healthy alternative to eating fruit, in fact, juices differ significantly from the whole foods from which they are made.
In addition to removing the beneficial insoluble fiber from fruit, juicing removes their texture and strips away the structure that can actually have a cleansing action on teeth.
All the sugar from a large amount of fruit is concentrated into a much smaller volume, resulting in very high sugar content.
The sugars are liberated and immediately available to bacteria in the mouth that contribute to tooth decay.
Much like juice, soda contains three acids, citric, carbonic, and phosphoric, all with an average pH of 2.5; which is slightly stronger than stomach acid.
The acids erode the enamel of teeth, which leads to tooth decay.
Not only are they bad for your teeth, but a typical soda contains up to 12% sugar, equal to about 9 teaspoons of sugar!
Week 6: Eliminate fruit juices and sodas completely!
You are halfway through your new eating smart plan and should be feeling more healthy!
Every day, more than TWO BILLION cups of coffee are drunk by people all over the world.
Valued for its stimulant properties and for its complex flavors and aromas.
Tea, with its rich history, stretching back thousands of years, is also popular for its caffeine content.
Neither coffee nor tea, by themselves, are detrimental to your body; it is what we put in our coffee and tea that is the problem.
Stevia is a good way to sweeten your drinks without adding sugar.
Week 7: Eliminate adding sugar or cream to your coffee and tea.
If you follow my blog, you know my disdain for processed foods.
Full of manufactured chemicals, sodium, and other carcinogenic compounds AVOID processed foods if you really want to feel healthy.
However, my doctor realizes the convenience factor many of these processed foods offer.
Week 8: Eliminate processed foods if possible. At least reduce serving sizes when available.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, sleep is vital to feeling healthy.
Although I cannot find any hard evidence, I believe a high-fat evening meal can disturb digestion and thus sleep.
Week 9: Get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep daily.
Use these candles to calm your senses and fall asleep faster.
Of course, it is not all about what you eat when it comes to getting healthy, we must be physically active to burn those calories we consume.
Week 10: Limit prolong sitting – get up and move every hour.
Working at a computer or desk all day leads to obesity and cardiovascular problems.
Standing and stretching will help and help you avoid prolonged sitting.
My doctor says “research shows that at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week reduces the risk of Diabetes.
Week 11: Aim for 30 minutes of exercise/5 days each week.
Making sure I get my 10,000 steps per day helps me meet this exercise goal each week.
Plus, exercising makes me fall asleep faster and get a more restful night’s sleep.
Finally, we reach the final step in our journey to eating smart and feeling healthy.
Week 12: Add two days a week of resistance/strength exercises.
As my doctor put it, this needs to be something that you will feel sore the next day.
Hoeing the garden is a great resistance exercise.
Swimming or biking is good resistance activities. Something other than cardio.
A controlled diet is not the answer for everyone, the answer is to eat smart.
By following basic guidelines for good nutrition and maintaining a few healthy habits, you will not only feel better but live a fuller life.
Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 1 lb. ground turkey lean ground beef can be used instead
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 4 large green or red bell peppers
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 cup pimento peppers, or salsa peppers, diced if you do not have peppers, use a can of Rotel instead
- 14.5 ozs petite diced tomatoes
- 1 can enchilada sauce
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 375ºF.
- Cut bell peppers in half, vertically. Remove seeds and stem. Place peppers in a shallow baking dish, cut side up.
- Place a 12-inch, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of your favorite cooking oil, I use olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ground turkey.
- Once all the meat is broken up, add the chopped onion, garlic, pimento peppers, and carrot. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until meat is cooked through.
- Drain any fat off meat. Return meat to the skillet and add chili powder, cumin, drained tomatoes, half the enchilada sauce. Mix until combined and allow it to simmer for 3 minutes.
- Divide the meat mixture among the bell pepper halves.
- Pour over the remaining enchilada sauce.
- Top with your desired amount of shredded cheddar cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until peppers are tender and cheese has melted.
- Garnish with shredded lettuce. Serve with refried beans if desired.