Step Ahead: Supporting Healthy Eating During and After Work
Eating a variety of healthy foods every day while limiting unhealthy foods is important for your health, even if you do not want to lose weight. Healthy eating improves your energy, helps you fight diseases by strengthening your immune system, and helps you achieve a healthy weight. Healthy eating, along with physical activity, also helps to reduce your risk for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis and many cancers.
What is Healthy Eating?
Healthy eating does not mean completely changing the way you eat. Think of healthy eating as a way of life, not as a "diet". Small choices about what you eat scattered throughout your day add up. Did you know that most adults gain one to two pounds per year, every year? You only need to cut 10 to 20 calories each day to avoid that weight gain.
How Do I Eat Healthy?
The key to healthy eating is the right balance of foods and modest portion sizes. Protein such as chicken, beef, eggs, beans and dairy; fruit and vegetables; carbohydrates such as rice, bread, pasta and potatoes; plus fats, oils and sweets are all part of healthy eating. Step Ahead will give you guidelines to help you add healthy eating into your day. Here are a few important ones:
Eat colorful fruits and vegetables every day. There are lots of ways to do this. Add extra lettuce, shredded carrots and tomato to your sandwich, or frozen vegetables to spaghetti sauce. Snack on cut melon, baby carrots, red grapes or a crisp apple. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories but full of vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting antioxidants.
Choose whole grain carbohydrates. Whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta have more fiber and nutrients than their white, more processed versions. For breakfast have oatmeal or whole wheat toast and peanut butter. Try whole wheat spaghetti with your favorite sauce.
Choose leaner sources of protein such as chicken, eggs, turkey, fish and beans. Beef, pork, fried fish and hamburger are high in saturated and hydrogenated fats. These bad fats are linked to heart disease and cancer. Try mixing turkey with hamburger in American Chop Suey, meatballs and other dishes to keep flavor and reduce saturated fat.
Choose low-fat milk, cheese and other dairy products. Replace regular cheese with a lower fat cheese. Put milk in your coffee instead of cream. By doing this you will have less saturated fat and calories but not less protein.
Eat on a regular schedule. Try not to skip meals. Eating regularly will help you avoid hunger pangs and over-eating later in the day.
Thirsty? Drink water. Drinking water throughout the day will improve your energy and prevent you from getting dehydrated.
Cut back on drinks that are mostly sugar, like regular sodas, juices, and sport drinks. These calories add up quickly. Even switching to a 12 oz. from a 22 oz. soda will save you about 125 calories!
Limit sweets and desserts that are high in calories and sugar. There are plenty of healthy snacks that are also good for you. Snack on yogurt for calcium and fruit for fiber and vitamins. Looking for a crunchy snack? Try lite popcorn, baby carrots or baked chips instead of regular chips.