Sometimes the “healthy” meals we make aren’t always healthy. They can be packed with sodium or sugar. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your healthy meals.
Choose fiber-rich veggies.
Vegetables have a lot of positives – they are full of antioxidants and low in calories per portion. They are also packed with fiber, which is filling because it takes up space in your digestive system, which means you stay full longer.
Fiber-filled veggies: artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli
Lean proteins are where it’s at.
Protein is what the body needs to build bones, muscles and skin. But a lot of protein rich foods come with saturated fat, which can lead to a cholesterol bump. Lean protein, on the other hand, helps stave off hunger while avoiding that cholesterol hike. Lean protein sources include turkey, skinless chicken breasts, eggs, white-fleshed fish, bison, Greek yogurt, lentils, beans and peas.
Good carbs – you can have them.
We’ve all heard it: Carbs are bad. When people talk about bad carbs, they are talking about refined carbs and sugars, which when consumed can result in a spike in blood glucose. That triggers an insulin response and a drop in blood sugar – then you get hungry. But there are some fiber-packed carbs that you can enjoy – in moderation – like oats, quinoa, squash and fresh fruit. Start with a half cup serving.
Don’t forget the flavor
Herbs and spices can take dishes to the next level. Don’t forget to use flavor enhancers like turmeric, cumin, basil, pepper, ginger, cilantro, oregano, rosemary or garlic. These are great alternatives to salt.
Tips for reducing sodium consumption:
Read the nutrition label: You should be consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day.
Prepare your own food: Packaged sauces, mixes and instant products are often high in sodium.
Add flavor: Try no-salt seasoning blends and herbs and spices instead of salt.
Buy fresh: Choose fresh meat, poultry and seafood instead of processed varieties. Check the package on fresh meats and poultry to see if salt water or saline has been added.
Watch your veggies: Try to buy fresh or frozen.
Rinse: Rinse sodium-containing canned foods, such as beans, tuna and vegetables before eating.
“Unsalt” your snacks: Choose low sodium or no-salt-added nuts, seeds and snacks or have carrot or celery sticks instead.
What’s high in sodium?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of the sodium consumed by Americans comes from the following foods:
- Breads and rolls
- Sandwiches (such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and submarine sandwiches)
- Cold cuts and cured meats (such as deli and packaged ham and turkey)
- Burritos and tacos
- Snack foods (such as chips, crackers, microwave popcorn, and pretzels)
- Chicken (includes processed chicken)
- Cheese (includes processed cheese)
- Egg dishes and omelets