While your doctor* or a nutritional expert can help you develop an eating plan that meets your needs, these suggestions might help you get on the right track.
Always read the food labels. Even foods that seem similar can have very different nutritional values, fat content, and calories. If a food doesn’t have a label, don’t buy it. Remember: Ingredients are listed by weight, so if the first ingredient listed is sugar, then the product has more sugar in it than anything else.
Stay away from fatty foods, sodium, caffeine, cholesterol, sugars and nitrates. The healthy rules of thumb:
- Fat can cause heart disease, so keep total fat to less than 20 percent of calories, with less than 10 percent from saturated fat.
- Salt can cause high blood pressure, so keep sodium and salt to 3,000 to 4,000 mg day.
- Caffeine can raise your blood pressure and facilitate dehydration.
- Cholesterol can clog arteries, so limit it to no more than 300 mg a day.
- Sugar adds unneeded calories, and nitrates may cause cancer.
Go for the good fat. Some fat is necessary in your diet. The goal is to cut back on saturated fats, keeping it to less than 10 percent of total calories. The “good” fats include monounsaturated, which can lower bad cholesterol, and polyunsaturated. Sources of monounsaturated fat include canola and olive oils and nuts. Items like corn, soybean, and fish fat are rich in polyunsaturated fat.
Don’t forget the fiber. Whole grains, fruits, beans, and other vegetables are high in fiber, which helps you eat less, maintains your energy, fights off bad cholesterol and helps you pass waste. Dietitians recommend up to 35 grams of fiber a day.
Never shop on an empty stomach. This is prime breeding ground for impulse junk-food buying.
*Check with your doctor or a nutritional expert to discuss your nutritional needs.