We all know that eliminating certain foods from our diets will go a long way to helping us lose weight and be healthier. But if you spend all of your time thinking about what you shouldn't be eating, you could be missing the nutritional value of some of the foods you love to eat.
If you don't make your healthy habits about restriction, you will be more likely to maintain these habits long-term.
Here a 7 foods you may want to consider reintroducing to your diet:
We've all been told that eggs are bad for cholesterol and should be avoided but that isn't really the case. "We now know eggs are safe for people with high cholesterol," says NYC-based dietician Jackie London, RD. "It's other factors in the diet that raise cholesterol levels." Eggs are full of B12 and London says they are particularly important if you eat a vegetarian or mostly plant based diet. "It's the most biologically available protein you have—the best source," she explains. If the idea still makes you uncomfortable, London suggests mixing one egg with two egg whites so you are still getting the nutrient value of the yolk while cutting the fat.
Many people nix milk and cheese from their diets when trying to get healthy but both can be a really great source of calcium and potassium. "You're only going to get that 8 grams of protein from animal milk, so you're losing that if you switch to soy, almond, or coconut," London says. "And the reason for putting potassium on the new food labels is because Americans aren't getting enough. Dairy is a good source of that." So don't walk away from it completely. Stick to a one ounce serving of cheese and a one cup serving of skim milk.
"People do not gain weight from eating pasta, they gain weight from eating too much pasta," says Keri Gans, MS, RD, author of The Small Change Diet
. "It's the serving size and what you do with it that's so key." Pasta should be a side and not the main attraction at your meal. Keep serving sizes to a half cup (a cup at the most) and avoid creamy sauces as they are high in calories. Try tossing your pasta in olive oil with veggies and a lean protein like shrimp. Yum.
When was the last time you heard anything good about white potatoes? They've pretty much come to be considered useless. "I can't even begin to tell you how many people believe this," says Gans. "But they are a good source of fiber and potassium, and they're not high in calories." It is all in the preparation. Instead of having fries or potato skins, Gans suggests topping your potatoes with salsa, Greek yogurt, mustard, or hummus for a nutritional bonus that doesn't cost you a bunch of calories.
"It's jammed in our minds that nuts are fattening," Gans says, "but really it's too many nuts that are fattening." Nuts are a great source of healthy fat and protein! "Portion them out—a serving is roughly the size of a shot glass. Just never eat them straight out of the bag or jar," Gans says as it can lead to overeating.
At some point in recent history, carbs became enemy numero uno. "I couldn't be a bigger supporter of a sandwich for lunch," says Gans. "Two slices of whole wheat bread with grilled chicken and avocado; or turkey with lettuce, tomato, and mustard; or almond butter with a little jam." If you pack a healthy sandwich for your work day lunch, you're well on your way to losing weight according to Gans. Just make sure your bread is a source of whole grains. Make sure "whole grain" flour is the only flour you see. Whole grains are rich in protein, fiber, and other important nutrients.
The best way to ruin your diet is to restrict yourself from any and all indulgences. "A big thing my clients always think they need to cut out is alcohol, but it can be a part of a well-balanced diet. Just remember that the 'more is better' rule does not apply here," Gans says. She suggests keeping yourself to a moderate intake level and rotating alcoholic beverages with water. And remember, not all alcoholic drinks are created equal. A vodka with soda and lime or a glass of red wine is far better for you than a frozen margarita or a piña colada. Healthy eating doesn't have to be a total bummer. "Even a cookie doesn't need to be eliminated," she says. "Share one dessert among three people, for instance. Or if you love chocolate, a little goes a long way when it comes to staying on track and continuing to eat healthy overall."
Were there any items on this list that you have been needlessly avoiding? What are you happy to know you can reintroduce into your life?
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