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Thursday, September 8, 2011

TOP 10 RULES to Healthy Eating

Welcome to my wonderful world of being a HEALTH NUT!

Take a deep breath, and before you get turned off by the "healthy eating" part of my blog...give it a chance.  Anyone who knows me knows I like to get my hands onto a supreme slice of pizza, a plate of loaded nachos, or a bite (or two) of double-chocolate cake from time to time.  I'm human, just like the rest of you and if anyone reading this claims they don't have those kinds of junk food cravings every once and a while, I'm calling you bluff. 

Throughout the last few years, I have researched and applied a lot of healthy alternatives and ways to create my own versions of foods that go outside of the "good for you" category.  I've listed out the do's and don'ts of healthy eating and have given advice on how to trick yourself into thinking you're indulging in cheat food, when you're really not.  Being a dancer, I have always had to eat smart, create meal plans, and live a lifestyle revolving around healthy food choices, and I'm excited to finally be able share what I've learned.  Starting a new blog surrounded with everything I LOVE in my life certainly includes making healthy choices and I thought it would be the perfect way to kick things off.

Here are MY TOP 10 RULES to Healthy Eating
  1. EAT BREAKFAST!  The easiest change you make in your every day routine is to start your day off the right way by eating something.  Some people think they are saving calories by skipping a meal, but if you chose to miss out on breakfast your body will seem to be hungry the entire day and you will end up consuming more calories.  Eating shortly after you wake up, even if it's a something small like a glass of juice and a banana, jump starts your metabolic burn for the day and gives you the energy needed to get you through your workouts later on.    
  2. EGG WHITES are your best friend:  I recommend starting your day with egg whites, or egg beaters.  These types of eggs are absent of fat, carbs & LOADED with PROTEIN!! They come in little upright cartons and you can find them in the dairy section of your local grocery store.  You can easily get creative and add more nutritional value to your eggs by putting almost anything in them while scrambling or making an omelet – turkey, chicken, broccoli, green or red peppers, olives, tomatoes, spinach, etc. GO NUTS,  this is SO good for you!
  3. SNACKING is great for your diet: Contrary to some beliefs, snacking is actually one of the best things you can do to up your metabolism.  Any health nut would agree that eating 5 smaller meals a day is always the better choice over 3 bigger meals.  This doesn't give you the green light to grab potato chips or a cinnamon bun between breaks, and this theory only works if you choose the right (meaning healthy) foods to snack on.  A handful of almonds, a sliced up apple, or celery sticks with peanut butter on top are great examples of things that will keep you satisfied between meals.  Can't find any healthy snacks at work? Pack a lunchbox and carry it with you before you leave for the day.
  4. EAT a BIGGER LUNCH: It's best to eat your heavier meals at the beginning of your day, so you have the chance to burn off the calories as the day goes on.  Have you heard the saying "Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Queen & dinner like a Pauper?" This is exactly what they're talking about! Most people aren't feeling ready for a huge breakfast when they wake up, but by the time lunch rolls around you should be good to go.  If you are looking to loose weight or even just get energy for a workout later on, choose meals that feature mostly protein and vegetables like chicken, turkey, turkey burgers, fish or lean beef.  Pair it with a nice salad, or veggies to add the perfectly balanced lunch of champions.
  5. BEWARE of "Smoothies":  Smoothies can be good for you if you make them yourself and use fruit, juice and ice as your main ingredients.  Don't even give "smoothies" with a frozen yogurt or ice cream base a second glance - those should really be called milkshakes.  I like to cut up any fresh fruit I have laying around that's about to go bad and keep in the freezer.  This way it's ready to quickly throw into a blender with ice, juice, and low-fat yogurt, to create a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
  6. PROTEIN is like a secret weapon: When you have a choice between a carb or a protein as your main food choice, ALWAYS go for the protein.  Carbs will fill you up temporarily, while protein will last you twice as long and provide the nourishment your muscles need to re-build.  Even if you're a vegetarian you can find plenty of protein out there: whole grains, eggs, nuts, beans, tofu and soy products are just a few examples of how to include protein into any diet.  There isn't a day that goes by where I don't snack on or even crave a protein bar and/or shake to get me through until the next meal.
  7. There IS such a thing as a GOOD Carbohydrate:  The Atkins Diet scared a lot of people away from carbs completely, but anything out entirely is never good for any diet.  Carbohydrates are a big part of the food pyramid and are essential for you to be at your healthiest, not to mention provide you with enough energy to get you through your workouts.  Stay away from complex carbs such as white breads, rice, noodles, pastries or sugary sodas opt for whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  Sweet potatoes, brown rice, grapefruit, fat-free milk and apples can give you exactly what your body's looking for when your craving something substantial.
  8. Watch-out for Multi-Grain products: Picking any grain product over white deserves a pat on the back, but if it isn't a whole wheat or product using whole grains, you're wasting your time and calories.  Be especially careful when picking out products like breads, crackers, pasta and tortillas were the grains have been milled into flour.  More times than not, "multi-grain" is just a fancy version of of a regular white product and adds very little nutritional value, if any to the original flour.  It's okay to become a wheat snob...keep your eyes peeled for 100% WHOLE WHEAT, or WHOLE GRAIN in the titles of what you buy!
  9. Drink LOTS of WATER!!!  Water makes up 60 percent of your total body weight, which automatically makes it an important component of your diet!  Not getting enough water can lead to dehydration and even cause you to eat extra food when you're not really hungry.  Doctors recommend the average adult intake 8 to 9 glasses of water a day, which can be challenging.  Not the biggest H2O fan? Spice things up by adding low or non-caloric flavorings to water, such as a wedge of fruit or a packet of crystal light.
  10. It's OKAY to give into your cravings: WHAT?! Yup, I mean it.  Living a healthy lifestyle does NOT include depriving your body of food.  Craving chocolate? Make a habit of eating 1 small piece of dark chocolate per day or splurging on a piece of chocolate cake once a week.  You can also look for the lighter versions of "fatty" foods, such as baked chips, baked cookies, and low-fat frozen yogurt.  It's okay to eat the foods you crave, but it's important to eat it in MODERATION.  If you completely cut out the foods you crave, more times than not you will end up eating a few healthy snacks to distract from your craving and end up giving into it anyways, consuming twice the amount of calories! 
I could go on and on about each of those topics, and most likely I eventually will. For now, those are my top ten rules to live by when you're looking to get on the Healthy Train.  Let me know if you have any questions or how this has helped you!

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