It is the start of a new year, which is the time when most of us are recovering from the holiday’s overindulgence and setting health-related goals, such as weight-loss. So, this is the perfect time for your nutrition check-up. More and more of us are becoming increasingly health-conscious, and we are starting to look at not just the quantity of the food but also the quality of what we consume. That means that we are not only counting the numbers of calories or grams on our weight-loss diet program, but we also evaluating the nutritional content of the foods. We are consciously thinking about whether the food source is protein, carbohydrates, or fats. We are checking the ingredient list to see if the package actually contains what it claims to contain as well as to see if there are any questionable ingredients, such as hidden sugars. These are all important and beneficial things to do to really take care of our bodies, not just for our weight-loss goal but also for our overall, long-term health.
If you are new to this and not sure where to start, here are two things you can do.
- Decrease Heavily-Processed Foods: Processed foods are foods that have been altered from their natural states in some way. This could be mechanically, such as by freezing, canning, or chopping, and this could be chemically, such as by adding chemicals (BHT, BHA, MSG, etc) and ingredients (high-fructose corn syrup, sodium, partially hydrogenated fats, etc) to increase the food’s flavor and/or shelf life. Many of the packaged foods we see in grocery stores nowadays have probably been processed via both methods. Processed foods are not automatically unhealthy. A package of almonds, for example, is technically considered processed but is definitely healthier than a package of M&M’s. What you need to do is simply read the ingredient list.
- Increase Whole Foods: Did you know that your body burns more calories digesting a whole foods meal than a processed foods meal? So, increasing your whole foods intake will definitely help your weight-loss goal. Not only so but your body will benefit from the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Although processed foods are very convenient, living on heavily-processed foods will not ensure that your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs. If you are not already doing so, slowly increase your whole foods intake, and you will soon reap the rewards of a healthier you.