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Three healthy foods, three to avoid in 2020


Last updated 1/29/2020 at 4:34pm | View PDF

If you're like most people who make a New Year's resolution, you want to eat healthier, lose weight or both. And if you're like most of us, your resolve has already begun to teeter.

By Feb. 1, the majority of weight-related New Year's resolutions have been tragically cut down in their prime by unrealistic expectations, fad diets, the frustration of not seeing results and a host of other factors.

Don't give up! Make 2020's resolution the one that sticks. It's easier than you might think, and the first step to getting back on track is focusing your next trip to the grocery store on the best foods for satisfying your hunger and cutting your cravings. Here are the foods you should favor (and the foods you should avoid):

EAT: Protein

Proteins are the building blocks that help build, repair and maintain our tissues and strengthen our immune system. Proteins also help you feel full after a meal and assist in maintaining your metabolism.

Best sources: chicken, eggs and other poultry; seafood; plain Greek yogurt; cottage cheese; tofu

AVOID: sweetened beverages

Drinks sweetened with sugar or "naturally sweetened" spike your blood sugar and insulin response with a concentrated dose of sugar that is quickly absorbed - leading to increased appetite and cravings.

Worst offenders: soda, juice, fancy coffee drinks, store-bought smoothies

Alternatives: carbonated flavored water, coffee with heavy whipping cream or half and half (to avoid "frappuccino withdrawal"), infused water

EAT: non-starchy vegetables

Vegetables are dense in nutrients, rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and low in carbohydrates. They fill you up with minimal impact on your blood sugar.

Best sources: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach, spaghetti squash, sugar snap or snow peas, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini

AVOID: added sugar

Extra sugar causes a surge in insulin, and high insulin levels cause your body to store fat rather than burn it. Refined carbohydrates also lead to a "crash and burn effect" as blood sugars drop, leading to a bigger appetite and more cravings.

Worst offenders: cereal and snack bars; pre-sweetened yogurts; canned fruit; and condiments, particularly ketchup, BBQ sauce, honey mustard, French dressing and similar

Alternatives: At the grocery store, "shop the perimeter," where you'll find fresh produce and natural, whole foods. Go in with a list and stick to it, read labels and never shop when you're hungry.

EAT: fat

The body needs fat in order to absorb vitamins A,D,E and K and to heal wounds. Fat is also the slowest macronutrient to be digested, so it promotes satiety and adds flavor.

Choose unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and avoid trans fat, which significantly increases your risk of heart disease.

Best sources: olive, avocado and coconut oil; nuts and seeds; avocado; butter

AVOID: refined grains

Refined grains, stripped of fiber, are digested and enter the bloodstream rapidly, causing that familiar spike in blood sugar and fat-storing insulin.

Worst offenders: white flour, bread, pasta, rice, baked goods, snack goods, breakfast cereals

Alternatives: Try swapping in riced cauliflower for white rice or edamame pasta for traditional wheat pasta.

Healthy eating and sustainable weight loss are about more than calorie-counting. It's also more than just a matter of "eating less and moving more." A variety of complex physiological and lifestyle-related factors contribute to how we gain weight.

The weight loss experts at the AMITA Health Center for Bariatrics & Weight Loss can partner with you to tailor a safe, easy-to-follow weight loss plan that works for you.

- Courtney Southwood, MS, RDN, LDN, is a practicing registered dietitian with Amita Health.


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