If you're trying to shed a few pounds, the first thing you need to change are your eating habits (ever heard of the 80-20 diet-exercise ratio?). No matter what kind of diet you're planning on following, there are healthy practices that everyone can benefit from. We gathered a few of these tips from health coach Malia Frey's article published in Healthy Options' lifestyle news digest last month, where she talks about how to build the best salad for weight loss and common mistakes when it comes to healthy eating. Keep scrolling to find out if you're making some!
1. You don't make big enough servings.
One of the biggest mistakes people make while trying to lose weight is not eating enough. Because while doing this makes you consume less calories, it'll also make you hungry later (hence the binge eating tendencies) and worse, slow down your metabolism. This is why some dieters tend to binge eat at night when they deprive themselves during the day. The solution? Eat healthy food until you're satisfied—never undereat!
2. Your salads don't have enough greens.
Salad is a staple food for losing weight not only because they have fewer calories, but for their nutrient content as well. Thing is, most people forget that to be nurtient-dense, the base of a salad should be leafy greens instead of starches and protein.
According to Malia, spring greens like arugula, spinach, chard, watercress, and mustard greens can bulk up your salad without making it too high in calories and fat. Other low-calorie greens to try are lettuces like iceberg, romaine, escarole, endive, and bibb, which can add crispiness and more texture to your salad as well.
Tip: To enjoy your salads and make them easier to eat, chop your ingredients into small squares to make a chopped salad.
3. You don't use much colorful vegetables.
Speaking of salads, the more colorful your meals are, the better. Consuming as many types of vegetables in different colors helps you diversify your nutrients, especially if you add both raw and roasted ones in your meals. Plus, vegetables are naturally low in calories and in fiber! Here's a list of ones to add to your meals, according to the digest:
- Red: Tomatoes, radishes, red onion, red peppers, cubed beets, red potatoes.
- Orange: Carrots, orange peppers, squash, heirloom orange tomato, sweet potato.
- Yellow and White: Sweet onion, corn kernels, yellow tomato, yellow beets, jicama, mushrooms, shallots, cauliflower, white asparagus.
- Blue or Purple: Purple potatoes, purple cabbage, purple peppers, eggplant.
- Green: Green onion, green tomato, artichoke hearts, peas, broccoli, cucumber, brussel sprouts, celery.
4. You don't make your own salad dressing.
In the article, Malia mentions how most salad dressings are high in fat and calories, while store-bought ones are full of sugar. Hence, she recommends either making your own and adding only a reasonable amount, or make your salad flavorful enough without dressing. "In fact, I generally just sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil, then toss my salad without any other topping. Some dieters add a spritz of citrus," she writes.
5. You don't eat enough healthy fats.
It may sound counterintuitive to eat fatty food when you're trying to lose weight, but fat is actually an important macronutrient that your body needs. Although it does increase the calorie count of meals, eating healthy fats like avocado, salmon, olive oil, nuts, and seeds in moderation fills you up and adds good calories to your count instead of empty ones.
Tip: Make your salad dressing in a separate container so you can measure how much oil you're adding. For example, a reasonable serving size for olive oil is only two tablespoons.
6. You don't use herbs to add flavor.
When you're trying to cut down on processed food, don't forget that some of your favorite sauces like ketchup, soy suace, and barbecue sauce are part of the equation (unless they're the healthy versions, of course!). That said, eating less of these doesn't mean surviving on flavorless food. For one, herbs are an underrated source of flavor that'll add more greens to your plate as well. Adding fresh tarragon, chives, basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, thyme, and cervil to your meals will give it that depth in flavor sauces will have trouble replicating. The best part is, you can grow your own herbs at home!
7. You don't eat lean protein.
Granted that deli meats and steak are technically protein, these are higher in saturated fat and are therefore not the best choice for weight loss. On the other hand, lean protein like chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, shrimp, sardines, and anchovies have lower levels of fat but will still give you your protein ratio. Grains like quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, and barley are great protein sources as well.