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Sneaky Smoothies? One-Trick Ponies? You Might Be Sabotaging Your Healthy Servings
Doing all you need to do to eat healthy and maintain your weight? Calories are sneaky, and efforts to maintain a healthy weight can defy the best intentions. Consider our recent post about Chinese adolescents who report eating plenty of veggies but consistently outweigh their non-serving-eating counterparts. Even if you are getting your servings, you might be sabotaging your health, and for some, summer (particularly vacations) can kill a year of good health habits.
Giving up on getting your servings is not the solution. Take heart, eat fruits and vegetables heartily, and keep your eye on sneaky diet dangers. Here are five pieces of advice for a summer plate, or a plate in any season that will help you keep the good without letting in the dastardly bad.
5 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Servings
The Sneaky Smoothie
The jury is in – we all seem to love a smoothie. They are a tall frothy way to get nutritious fresh fruit into your diet and feel good about breakfast or a mid-day meal. Smoothies are superior when it comes to disease-fighting antioxidants because of their penchant for containing nutritious fruits, and summers seems especially positioned to welcome smoothies – the air is hot and fruit is everywhere.
While smoothie recipes can incorporate the best of healthy eating, many can be high in sugar and juice – and, while technically not a smoothie, some even contain ice cream. Also, smoothies go down easily and quickly, so if your smoothie serving is really two or three (an easy mistake when dealing with tasty liquid), that’s an extra meal that’s consumed in flash.
If you’re a smoothie enthusiast, make your blends with your own hand. Use whole ingredients, and opt for low fat yogurt, or skip the dairy completely – rely on bananas for bulk, or use soy milk as in this deep blue take on the shake. Combine fruits (and veggies, too – check out Livestrong.com for there take on the green smoothie) to maximize your taste, not additives, and you’ll eliminate the deviousness of your favorite fruit delivery system.
Give this fabulous fruit-heavy smoothie, the Wild Blueberry Avocado Smoothie a whirl for pure, transparent goodness.
The Fry-it Trap
When is a veggie not a veggie? When it’s fried.
If your veggie intake consistently comes fried, you might end up with the weight issue that plagues so many Chinese adolescents. We can think we’re eating healthy and still be offsetting our efforts by adding oil, stir frying, eating tempura, or deep frying the otherwise health-friendly and potassium-rich potato.
Those who market to consumers find myriad ways to take perfectly good food and take the good right out of it, and the french fry trap is one huge way. Eat your veggies – including the potato – but avoid cancelling out their benefits by dropping the fried from of your diet.
Taking the best eating techniques from other cultures – even China – when it comes to meals can do wonders for your health. When in doubt, cleave to the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean plate, familiar to those living in food Meccas like Greece, Italy and France, relies on monounsaturated fats like avocado, fish, and canola oils, very little red meat, minimally processed foods, and plants, plants, plants.
Learn more about the Mediterranean Diet by reading our post Mediterranean for Dummies.
Drinking Your Calories
Skinny Chef Allison Fishman says one of her personal dietary rules is not drinking her calories. “I’m not into a big glass of juice. I don’t have orange juice around by I always have clementines and oranges,” says Fishman. “I want to have the whole fruit or the whole berry – I want to have the skin and I want to have the fiber.”
It’s easy, during the summer especially, to drink calories and still think you’re eating healthy and maintaining your weight. Drinking your calories happens by overusing energy drinks that are often targeted to those engaged in summer activities, being a juice devotee, whether it’s cranberry, apple, or cranberry-apple, or indulging in alcoholic drinks – those fancy summer concoctions that are health-crushingly caloric.
Alternatives? You bet. Get the whole berry by eating fresh or frozen year-round instead of juice, opt for water or seltzer over energy drinks and sodas, and choose your alcoholic drinks wisely – for example, try this antioxidant-rich take on the mojito, a Wild Blueberry Baselito – while it still counts as a cocktail, it takes most of its volume from health giants wild blues.
One-Trick Pony Plates
Can your co-workers accurately predict what you’ll be pulling out of your lunch bag on any given day? Is your diet a series of same-olds? Is your idea of eating your vegetables limited to simply grazing on greens? You may need to boost your intake rather than cut it. The best way to be sure you aren’t missing necessary nutrients is to eat widely and generously from the food rainbow. The naturally-occurring food color spectrum provides an excellent basis for taking in a wide variety of needed nutrients.
Why? Plants are colorful because of pigments, which fall into two categories: carotenoids and anthocyanins. Carotenoids are at the yellow-orange-red end of the spectrum. They are found in foods like carrots and tomatoes and are also in leafy greens (they’re just covered by the green of chlorophyll). Anthocyanins are at the red-blue end of the color spectrum. There are over 300 types of anthocyanins, and they are found in a lot of the foods we eat, but they are on brightest display in berries and deep blue and purple colored fruits and vegetables.
Embracing color doesn’t mean you have to go exotic. According to this article in the New York Times, if you are missing even very common foods like pumpkin, cabbage, plums or frozen blueberries, you are missing important nutrition.
May I Lift Your Fruit, Miss?
Sure, you’re piling on the servings: your frozen wild blueberries are thawing in the fridge for breakfast and your sliced veggie sticks are at the ready. Great – just make sure you are policing what is underneath those nutritious servings. Are your berries topping a cup of granola? Granola is a huge calorie drain in the guise of healthy food. Eating strawberries on a waffle every morning and topping it with cream or syrup? You may want to change up your routine and make the fruit the main event instead – for instance, a sprinkle of granola or dash of almonds could be just enough to provide the palatable contrast you are looking for.
While you’re watching the bottom, check you’re top, too. If those sliced veggies are starting to swim in something suspiciously creamy, you may be heading for disaster. Remember, fat helps you absorb nutrients, so don’t dump the dressing, make a vinaigrette instead using heart-healthy olive oil. Is cheese sauce a requirement for your broccoli florets? Let your fresh or frozen veggies shine in their own right for a change – consider a spritz of lemon your condiment of choice instead.
Don’t drench your fruits and veggies – delight in them! Consult our comprehensive database of Wild Blueberries Recipes for ways to integrate a tasty, antioxidant-rich serving for breakfast, lunch dinner, dessert – even snacks and drinks!