Are your meals beige? Foods with bright colors typically offer more nutritional value, and the more varied your foods, the more balanced your diet will be. Try adding juicy red tomatoes (loaded with the antioxidant lycopene), bright green collard greens (rich in folate) and plump blackberries (full of vitamin C.)
Eat your meat...just make sure it's lean. When it comes to picking pork, go for ham or tenderloin. Choose boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and if you're making burgers, hunt for ground beef that's labeled 90 percent lean (or more). And watch your portions: a healthy portion of meat is about the size of a deck of cards.
Not getting enough greens in your diet? Shake it up! Blend a breakfast fruit shake with a small banana, frozen mango, fresh strawberries and half a cup of nonfat yogurt. Add a spoonful of honey and...a big handful of fresh baby spinach. The resulting color might not be what you're used to, but it tastes delicious and packs tons of nutrients.
Fiber helps regulate your digestion, lowers your cholesterol and can even help you lose weight. But are you getting enough fiber in your diet? According to the Mayo Clinic, women 50 and under should get 25 grams a day; women over 50 need 21 grams. Boost your intake with beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Don't diet on your own! Knowing someone will check your progress can be a big motivator. Round up a couple friends who also want to lose weight; you don't have to have the same goals or use the same methods, but talking about your progress will help keep you on track.
Variety is essential to sticking with healthy snacking. At work, stock a drawer with fat-free microwave popcorn, small portions of almonds or walnuts, and dried fruit like cranberries or cherries. At home, keep a bowl of fresh fruit handy and pre-cut carrots, peppers, cucumbers or other favorites in the fridge. Happy munching!
What's in season? Eating foods that are plentiful naturally is healthier (and less expensive) than sticking with the same thing year-round, and seasonally available food is often most flavorful and colorful. So go ahead: try some new vegetables, fruits, herbs or seafood this season.
For most women, nutritionists recommend three cups of milk a day. But getting the calcium you need doesn't need to be boring: try including a cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt in a fruit shake, adding feta cheese crumbles to a salad, or enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate in the afternoon as a snack.
Frozen prepared meals are expensive - and often loaded with salt and preservatives. But you can still fill your freezer with healthy frozen meals: make Sunday slow-cooker day and prepare one of your favorites, then divide it into individual servings and freeze them. You'll save money while eating healthy home-cooked meals.
We've talked a lot about all the things health care professionals do wrong when it comes to communicating health information. But what about you? What is your role in the relationship? Well, as with any relationship, health communication is a two-way street. I know that I rely on my patients to tell me about any confusion they may have, or about things they don't understand, just as much as I rely on them to tell me where it hurts.