5 Easy Steps to Better Food Choices
by Angela Corcoran, Director of Education for the Cybex Research Institute
1. Look at added sugar on food labels.
Take a closer look - not all of your daily sugar comes from sweets and little packets. Sugar is an added ingredient in many food products, so make sure to check the labels.
What to look for: 1 tablespoon of sugar equates to 5 grams. If you are given a calculation in tablespoons, to determine the total number of grams, multiply the number of tablespoons by five. Your maximum intake should be 6-9 tablespoons of sugar in a day. This measurement of sugar equates to a recommended limit of 30-45 grams. There are 3.87 calories in one gram of sugar.
2. Find the fiber.
Choose carbohydrates that are high in fiber, and go easy on the ones that aren't. For instance, when reaching for a loaf in the bread aisle, pick the one labeled with “whole grain” rather than bleached white bread. Whole wheat and whole grain breads typically have up to 6 grams of fiber per serving. Other high fiber carbohydrates include rye, bulgur wheat, and barley. Be careful not to mistake starch for fiber.
3. Lean towards lean.
You don’t need to sacrifice meat (or flavor) to eat healthy. Choose meat cuts that are lean and low in fat, such as skinless chicken breast and sirloin. Lean cuts contain all the protein benefits of meat, but with less saturated fat and total fat.
4. Food timing.
Plan accordingly. Remember that simple carbohydrates (fruits and sugar) are short acting. They’ll give you a quick burst of energy and then leave you dragging. Complex carbohydrates (legumes, starchy vegetables, whole grains) are designed to keep you going for longer periods of time.
5. Consume food as it was designed to be consumed.
Before you put it in your mouth think about what was done to it first. The more steps taken to alter the food, the likely the more calories it has. For example, bread versus a whole grain: the bread was milled, bleached and baked before consumption. Milled grains always have less fiber and the potential for more calories. Think about juice versus fresh fruits in the same way - the less steps from the earth to your stomach the better.