The Year of Eating Healthy

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was for your family to eat healthier, you are not alone — thousands of restaurants, markets, and products have become available to those who want to pursue a nutritious and healthy lifestyle when they eat. These resources can make healthy eating more accessible for you as you prepare nutritious and delicious meals for your family. Especially after the holidays, the most common area of concern for people is losing that holiday weight!

Shopping for the right, healthy ingredients might be challenging if you are unfamiliar to it. There are specific products, brands, and nutritional facts that you need to be aware of if you want to follow through with your family leading a healthier eating lifestyle. Whether your goal is to eat foods with lower fat content or you want to avoid things such as gluten and dairy, here are some tips on what to look out for when you go grocery shopping:

Low Fat
Trans fats and saturated fats should be avoided; these fats can raise your low density cholesterol level (LDL), which is considered “bad” cholesterol. This type of cholesterol could raise the risk of heart disease, so it is important to avoid eating an excess of processed foods such as chips, crackers, and deep fried foods. When shopping for foods that are low in fat, be sure to remember that government regulations state that foods must contain 3 grams or less of fat per serving in order to be considered “low fat.” Moreover, be wary of “reduced fat” foods; these foods may not be as low in fat as you want them to be, because “reduced fat” is only an indication that the food item is 25% less in fat per serving than a similar product. Although these facts exist, do not be afraid of fat! Some fat is absolutely essential for the absorption of important vitamins, so remember that moderation is important.

Low Sodium
Maintaining a low fat eating habit goes hand in hand with eating low sodium foods. Sodium is present in a variety of different foods, including foods that have been processed. Beyond this, salt is commonly used to season dishes. However, the widespread use of sodium does not negate the undesirable effects one can receive from taking too much in. An over-consumption of sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which is a serious health condition. Because of this, health standards dictate that “low sodium” foods contain 140mg of sodium or less. Be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label on your purchases to ensure that you can moderate you and your family’s sodium intake.

Dairy Free
People may seek out dairy free products either because they are allergic, or they are intolerant to the milk sugar, lactose. Dairy products could include milk, cheese, butter, and more. There are many different alternatives to dairy products, including soy foods and products that exclude dairy ingredients, such as milk that does not contain lactose. However, if you are trying to avoid dairy products, it is crucial to be able to identify different dairy ingredients that you may not be familiar with. Be on the look out for words such as lactose, whey, and rennet, among others, to maintain your dairy free diet.

Certain nutritional facts are not the only way to change those eating habits. One of the biggest downfalls to most diets is going out to eat at restaurants with friends. A couple of tips on how to keep these restaurants in check:

  • Choose Your Restaurant Beforehand: Too many times friends go out not knowing which restaurant they want to go to and choose it on the go. Deciding ahead of time, gives you the opportunity to do a little research on their menu and healthy choices. This also allows you time to decide whether you should choose a burger over a healthier alternative.
  • Nutritional Facts: A lot of restaurants today provide the nutritional facts for their food items, from calories to fat content. However, they are not always available at the restaurant but can be seen online. So, preparing where you go will assist in looking into a nutritional menu as well.
  • Balancing: The appetizers and desserts are the toughest to control. So if you are out and friends want appetizers and desserts also, picking one over the other is usually best. Between the two, choosing an appetizer is probably the smartest choice, as there are usually some very healthy options and everyone splits them.

This is only an example of the plethora of facts you need to be aware of when it comes to changing eating habits. Markets and other stores provide any number of choices of products, ranging in ingredients and nutritional content. If you have already made the decision for you and your family to eat healthier this New Year, then there is no better way to fulfill that goal than by knowing all of your nutritional facts.

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