By Joy Saudargas, MA, RD, LDN
Americans are obsessed with keeping their weight in check, and yet the national obesity rate is rising rapidly, the number of type 2 diabetics and prediabetics has soared, and junk food flies off the grocery store shelves.
How can it be that we’re spending so much time and energy trying to figure out how to eat more healthfully, but are failing?
Part of the problem is the wide array of fad diets that promise the moon, the stars and the ability to wear jeans that are a couple sizes smaller. On the other hand, some food fads can be really good for you, as long as you know what to look for and how to incorporate them into your daily routine. It is wise to vary your daily intake including foods from all of the food groups. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein will provide an array of nutrients your body needs.
Here are some food fads that are more than just fads; they’re actually good for you.
People tend to turn their nose up at kale, spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens. However, these leafy green vegetables are versatile and pack significant nutritional benefit, helping to give you more energy, maintain healthy vision and improve cholesterol levels.
If you do decide to make leafy greens a bigger part of your diet, be imaginative. Add them in with your scrambled eggs in the morning, make a sandwich using romaine lettuce in place of bread, add greens to your smoothie or add them to your favorite soup recipe.
You may have never heard of “pulses” – they’re the seeds of dry crops: dry peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils. The United Nations declared 2016 “The International Year of the Pulse.” They’re versatile, flavorful, affordable and sustainable. They can also be ground into gluten-free flour and used for healthy alternatives to breads and baked goods. Try hummus in a salad or on a sandwich or try lentil soup to incorporate pulses into your daily routine.
Ancient grains such as quinoa, bulgur, farro, buckwheat, and millet are rich in B-vitamins and high in fiber. Some “newer” ancient grains that are gaining in popularity include teff, kamut, amaranth and spelt. You can find these ancient grains in a variety of foods, such as cereals and bars. These grains can also be used in place of rice in many dishes. Many of these grains are also gluten free making them even more popular.
That’s right, water. Not coconut water or asparagus water or cucumber water. Just good, old-fashioned water. You don’t need to pay a fortune for those fancy waters, which really don’t deliver any more nutritional value than water. The most important time to drink water is first thing in the morning as your body loses fluid while you sleep. It’s also smart to have a glass or two of water before meals; this will fill you up and you’ll eat less.
So, skip the quick fixes and overnight magic solutions and focus on having a well-rounded diet that gives you plenty of vitamins and nutrients – and perhaps includes some of the foods mentioned above.
About the Author
Joy Saudargas, MA, RD, LDN
Joy specializes in medical nutrition therapy. One of her favorite things about being a Registered Dietitian at Crozer-Keystone Health System is the sense of community and togetherness she experiences within the system.
To schedule a nutrition appointment, please call 800-254-3258.