So you’re planning to overindulge on Easter weekend, and you’re hoping to make up for it in the following weeks? A few servings of antioxidant-rich superfoods will bring a boost of energy to invigorate your good intentions, so you won’t mind parking on the other end of the lot to fit in a few extra steps. It’s easy to fit small bursts of exercise into your day if you’re motivated to slim down. But eating the wrong foods will stunt your progress from the get go. You want to make sure you get maximum nutrition from every bite so you have the energy to take on that flight on stairs instead of lazily riding the elevator.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be tasteless, and you don’t have to give up your favourite foods as long as you don’t overindulge. Switching a few high calorie habits to lighter choices will pay off on the scales. There are plenty of superfoods that can divert cravings or boost nutrition without adding extra calories, so even if you don’t want to eat a bowl of kale, you’ve got other tasty options.
This list will give you some ideas for how to fill up on antioxidants, protein and healthy fats and how to feel full longer. Snack on these and when you’re faced with temptation or a night out with friends, you’ll have more in your stomach than a light salad with dressing on the side. If you aren’t starving for nutrition, you can give in to temptation without giving up the progress you’ve made towards a slimmer version of yourself. And when you do indulge, you’ll be satisfied with a smaller treat.
Go ahead and reach for the cinnamon shaker – it will satisfy your sweet tooth! When you add spice, the extra flavour means you can skimp on sugar, fats and salt. Topping your non-fat soy latte with this spice is a smart move since you’ll be adding more than a sprinkling of health benefits. Cinnamon has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes. And don’t stop at the cinnamon, add cayenne pepper, ginger, turmeric or fresh herbs at any meal since these will excite your taste buds and add superfood qualities of their own.
These little powerhouses of flavour are packed with antioxidants and fibre. They’ll satisfy your cravings for sweets and the fibre and water content will keep you feeling full longer. Blueberries and cranberries are often cited as the best berries to eat but raspberries, cherries, strawberries or the lesser known goji and acai berries are all excellent choices.
Even fast food restaurants are catching on to the delicious potential oatmeal offers. This low calorie superfood will fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied for longer thanks to its high dietary fibre content. And this fibre has the added benefit of reducing bad cholesterol levels! So fill up your bowl, stir in some cinnamon and top it with berries and nuts. Your day’s off to a great start!
Nuts have a bad reputation for being high in fats but your body needs fats to function at its optimal level. The trick is to give it good fats and avoid the bad ones. This is where nuts come in. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans – they’re all superfoods. Crack them open, grind them, spread them but choose nuts that are unsalted and be sure to measure out a portion size before digging in so you don’t have too much of a good thing – 1/4 cup is enough.
While you’re stocking up on nuts, don’t forget to pick up some seeds too. Flax, hemp and chia are popular health foods but don’t forget about pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and sunflower seeds. Just make sure they’re not covered in salt, which will tarnish their halos. As small as they are, they’re packed with protein, fibre, healthy oils, vitamins and minerals to keep you energized throughout your day.
We’re all familiar with the mung bean sprouts in Chop Suey and alfalfa sprouts are a popular sandwich topping. Low in calories and high in nutritional value, topping a salad or sandwich with sprouts is a healthy choice. There are a variety of seeds that can be sprouted easily at home – lentil sprouts add a spicy kick and sunflower sprouts are mild and delicious. So don’t pass them by next time you see them on offer.
Known to the Incas as the “mother of all grains,” quinoa was first cultivated 5000 years ago. But quinoa isn’t a grain – it’s a seed so when we eat it, we get all the fibre and nutrients from the whole seed. And that’s a lot of nutritional value! It contains all the essential amino acids you need, which makes it a source of complete protein. Quinoa cooks up quickly, in only 15 minutes, and can replace rice in any meal. Just make sure you rinse it well before cooking to wash off the soapy taste from the natural saponin coating.
If you want to feel satisfied after a meal even when you eat fewer calories, find a way to work beans into the mix. Have a small bowl of lentil soup before the main course or toss some black beans into your burrito. If you’re using canned beans, rinse them off to remove some of the sodium. If you start off slowly, only gradually increasing the amount of beans you eat, this will give your body a chance to get used to digesting them and they won’t cause gas. In fact, studies have found that beans don’t live up to their reputation for being musical – it’s more likely the cheese in your burrito that is causing your digestive discomfort than the beans.
Sure, I said you’d enjoy eating these foods but don’t toss the kale. Rather, toss it with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt before baking it into crispy chips. Or steam it and smother it with garlic and butter – whatever it takes to make it palatable since it is such a nutritional powerhouse. Kale has become so popular that there are tons of great ways to enjoy it. It’s worth the effort to figure out what works for your tastebuds.
With the colourful varieties of heirloom tomatoes available in supermarkets today, it’s easy to work this delicious fruit into salads, sandwiches, salsas or sauces. And it doesn’t matter if they’re raw or cooked – as long as they’re eaten. A major source of all four carotenoids, antioxidants and potassium, tomatoes have been proven to reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Enjoy them with olive oil or avocados and you’ll increase the amount of carotenoids your body absorbs.
Stay slim and healthy by filling up on a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Incorporate these superfoods into your diet and you’ll notice an extra spring in your step. Counting calories and working exercise into your daily routine is a good way to achieve a healthy body weight but build healthy habits into your routine to maintain the progress you’ve made. Sprinkling cinnamon instead of sugar, adding protein-dense nuts and seeds and starting your day off with a healthy oatmeal-based breakfast will set you up for a healthy day – even if you give in to the occasional temptation. Letting yourself indulge with a square of chocolate or an extra treat doesn’t hurt as long as you’re eating healthy most of the time. Satisfy your body’s needs with these delicious superfoods, and you won’t feel like you’re on a diet.
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