How can I eat healthier at home?

National-Eating-Healthy-Day
Should I be eating gluten free?
Not unless you have Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat barley, and rye, but gluten itself is not inherently unhealthy.  For example, barley does not cause weight gain.  What can be unhealthy is a high intake of processed forms of wheat, which would also be high in gluten, and that can result in a high calorie consumption.  We also know that processed and packaged foods tend to be less filling, and so we need to eat more of them, while they tend to be very low in nutrients.  So instead of cutting out gluten per se, try eating less processed cereals, crackers, baked goods/pastries, too much bread, etc. and focus on more whole grain products in moderation.

Can I lose weight without exercising?
You can, but exercise can be very important to a weight loss program. We also know exercise has significant benefits to decreasing our risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, Diabetes, and certain cancers; exercise can improve our energy levels, help our mood regulation, and help us to handle stress.  The goal with exercise is to find something that we enjoy.  If you don’t like running, you don’t have to run!  Try hiking, or swimming, or riding a bike.  Find something that you will be more likely to do on a regular basis!

Should I be a vegetarian?
Individuals on a vegetarian diet tend to have lower risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, osteoarthritis, certain cancers, Diabetes, and metabolic disease; they also tend to have healthier weights.  That being said, we can still get lots of benefits from a plant based diet, with consuming small to moderate amounts of animal products, especially if we choose lean sources of protein.  This would include white meat chicken and turkey, 90% lean beef (or higher), lowfat/nonfat dairy, eggs in moderation, and pork tenderloin/loin.  So we do not need to be a vegetarian, but we should focus on getting lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and soy in our diet for lots of health benefits

Should I try a diet like the Paleo Diet?
Fad diets such as the Paleo are diets where you cut out entire foods groups (here, cutting out legumes, dairy, all grains, and discouraging certain fruits); this can result in a lifestyle that is not very sustainable.  My question is, is this something you can maintain in the long term? Many people are not able to eliminate all grains, dairy, etc. from their diet.  If this is this case, I encourage individuals to find something that is more sustainable.

How do I cut out the sugar?
I always ask people why they are cutting out the sugar.  It is true that some individuals may be more predisposed to sugar addictions, as they are more likely to be addicted to other substances.  Typically, the more refined sugars we consume, the more we tend to crave them.  However, many individuals can get to a point where if they reduce their refined sugar intake to a point where it is just occasional and in moderate amounts, than that would not be unhealthy, nor would it typically result in high sugar cravings.  It is very individual, and people have to find their own balance.  In general, I do recommend that most individuals would benefit from decreasing their intake of refined, added sugars, but it may not mean that they have to eliminate them completely from their diets.

If you're looking to get started with healthier eating, here are five recipes I've blogged about in the last year that I think you should try this month. These recipes will attest to the fact that eating healthy doesn't equal bland food.

 - Broccoli, Mushroom and Pine Nut Fritatta

 - Banana Bran Muffins

 - Edamame, Corn and Tomato Salad

 - Sunflower, Cherry Oatmeal Bars

 - Cannellini Humus

 - Kale Chips