Maintaining a proper, healthy diet is a vital part of long-term weight loss. The easiest way to ensure that you stick to a clean-eating plan is to build it around the foods and flavors that you enjoy! To help you accomplish this, we’ve made a list of the top 10 ways to make your food healthier.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to live off of boring chicken and bland vegetables. There are plenty of healthy tips and tricks to make your favorite foods more waistline friendly! Perhaps the best part is that most of these methods require little to no added effort! All it takes is a little planning to adjust your regular routine!
Top 10 Ways to Make Your Food Healthier
1. Prioritize Protein
First and foremost, every meal should contain protein. This macronutrient is a power house when it comes to weight loss. Protein forces your body to work harder to digest it, thus burning more calories. Some of your best options for lean (low-fat) proteins are:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Ground turkey
- White fish (like Cod, Grouper, Tuna, or Mahi Mahi)
- Shellfish (like Crab, Shrimp, or Scallops)
- Egg Whites
Check out our comprehensive List of 44 High-Protein, Low-Carb Foods. Or, if you’re on a plant-based diet, check out the 17 top plant-based proteins.
Find out exactly how many grams of protein you should be getting daily by checking out our Macronutrient Calculator for Weight Loss.
2. Eat the Right Fats
Our bodies need dietary fat to thrive, but how do you know which ones are considered good or bad fats? There are four different types of fat that you will find on nutritional labels: saturated, monounsaturated, trans fat, and polyunsaturated.
Saturated fat should be limited as often as possible. Foods that are generally high in these fats are butter, fatty cuts of meat, cheese, or whole milk dairy.
Trans fats are the worst type of fat out there and should be avoided completely. You will find these fats in pretty much any deep fried food or in ingredients like margarine.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, are much better for your health. That being said, they should still be consumed in moderation. These “heart healthy” fats also benefit your brain, skin, hair, and nails. Foods rich in these healthy fats may include:
- Olive oil
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Various nuts and seeds
- Soybeans and soybean oil
Related: 7 Healthy Fats that Promote Weight Loss
3. Choose Whole Grains Over Refined Grains
Brown rice or white rice: which would you choose? While they may be very similar in terms of calories, brown rice is generally considered healthier because it’s in the whole grain family. Whole grains are unrefined, meaning they retain their nutrients and soluble fiber. Aside from brown rice, some examples of whole grains include oats, whole wheat, and quinoa.
Refined grains, like white flour, white bread, and white rice have lost some of these important nutrients and fiber. Anytime you can choose whole grains over refined grains, you will provide your body with vital nutrients that it needs to function optimally!
Check out the whole grains on our Whole Foods Shopping List.
4. Swap-In Vegetables
Trade in your noodles for zoodles! Over the last few years, the act of swapping out high-carb pasta for low-carb veggies has really taken off! I mean, why not save the calories where you can, right?
So, the next time you’re in the mood for spaghetti, trade the noodles for spaghetti squash. Instead of traditional brown rice, give cauliflower rice a chance. Small, healthy swaps like this can lead to big changes on the scale.
Pick up our favorite Veggie Spiralizer and try these 12 Recipes made with Zoodles!
5. Trim the Fat and Remove the Skin
Cleaning up your protein means more than just rinsing it off in the sink! You’d be amazed how many calories you can cut from a dish during the preparation stage. I’ll admit that most stores do a pretty good job of trimming the fat off of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. With that being said, it couldn’t hurt to go back over them with a pair of shears when you get home. Don’t get me wrong; I think skin-on, chicken on the bone is delicious, but eating it that way every time isn’t conducive to weight loss.
Furthermore, when purchasing beef, we highly recommend going for the lean cuts like sirloin and round. When purchasing ground beef, I never buy packages that are fattier than 90/10, but my go-to is 93/7 lean ground beef. Save the fattier cuts of meat like porterhouse, t-bone, or ribeye for special occasions!
6. Drain the Excess Grease
If you’re frying hamburger meat in a pan for tacos, make sure to drain any excess grease before you add your spices. This can greatly reduce the amount of calories that you will consume, making Taco Tuesday a whole lot healthier!
We also recommend using a broiling rack or roasting pan when you’re cooking meat in the oven. This allows any unwanted grease to drip off and keep your meal from soaking it back up!
7. Say “No” to Deep Fried
Deep frying your food is a no-go when you’re following a weight loss plan. Unfortunately there’s really no way to make it healthy. With that being said, there are healthier methods of frying these days! If you go crazy for fried chicken (or any other fried food, for that matter), you’ll want to pick up an Air Fryer.
This handy contraption creates perfectly “fried food” at a fraction of the calories! There is no grease involved, which means no trans fats either! Instead, air fryers circulate hot air using a convection mechanism. This mimics crispy, perfectly “fried” food!
Other healthy cooking methods include grilling, steaming, broiling, baking, boiling, roasting, and sauteing!
8. Season to Perfection
Spices and seasonings are about to become your new best friend! Skip those diet foods that have a reputation for being bland and boring. Utilizing the right seasonings can make you look forward to your meals again!
Some of our favorite additions to chicken and turkey are Cajun seasoning, taco seasoning, Montreal seasoning, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Fish and seafood can be coated with lemon, dill, pepper, or Old Bay seasoning! You can also use Montreal seasoning on steak, or try my personal favorite, The Spice Hunter Steak Rub.
Regardless of what you’re cooking, if you want to experiment with different flavors, check out this 10-Pack variety set of gourmet spices from FreshJax. They’re even keto-friendly!
9. Limit Your Sugar Intake
The AHA recommends that women get no more than 25 grams of added sugar each day. For men, it’s no more than 37 grams. Added sugar refers to food that has been altered to have more sugar. This does not refer to naturally occurring sugar from foods like fruit and dairy. If you want to sweeten something, try using natural sweeteners like honey or agave nectar instead of refined white sugar!
10. Watch Your Sodium Levels
Regularly consuming too much salt can have detrimental effects on your body. According to the AHA, healthy adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, ideally aiming for no more than 1,500 milligrams daily. Currently, most Americans get 3,400 milligrams per day on average, which is well over the recommended daily limit.
It is rare to have a difficult time meeting minimum requirements, which is less than 500 milligrams per day (or, less than a quarter teaspoon).
Processed foods and meals from restaurants are typically loaded with salt, which is why increased salt intake has become such a huge problem. To limit your salt consumption, prepare your meals at home and avoid pre-packaged, processed foods as often as possible.
Are you going to try to utilize these top 10 ways to make your food healthier? We all should! Do you have a tip or trick that we left out? Let us know in the comment section, below!