How to Choose Healthy Foods For Weight Loss

   Finding healthy foods for weight loss isn't that difficult, but there are a few principles you have to understand, and a few popular misconceptions that must be cleared up.
First of all, terms like "low fat" "low calorie" or "diet" on the package of a product doesn't automatically mean that it's good for you!

As more and more research is showing, we actually need a certain amount of healthy fats in our diet. Not only that, but some foods that are low in calories substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, which could be even worse for you than plain sugar! This includes "foods" such as diet soda, diet candies, cookies and other sweets.
Beware of Substitutes
Another area where you have to be careful is in "substitute" type foods that are made to taste like another, higher calorie food. The most obvious example here would be margarine, which many people assume, without any real evidence, is better for you than butter. Margarine contains the worst type of fats, trans fats. The fact is, since around the mid-20th Century, as margarine began to get more popular than butter, heart disease in the Western world has skyrocketed.
The notion that all saturated fats, such as you find in butter and other dairy products are bad is fortunately going out of style. In fact, it's arguable that the worst thing about modern dairy products are the hormones and antibiotics injected into the animals at factory farms. The way to avoid this, however, isn't to switch to "fake" foods, but to seek out all natural or organic dairy products.
The Pitfalls of Soy
The other common "healthy" substitute for animal products is soy. If you go into a health food store, quite a few of the packaged foods are high in soy. This includes items like veggie burgers, tofu hot dogs, soy milk, soy pizza and soy "ice cream."
This is another area where recent research has shown that eating large quantities of soy is not a good thing. There are several reasons for this, one of the major ones being that soy is high in phytic acid, which makes it harder for the body to absorb essential nutrients.
Soy products have also been linked with many health problems, including certain types of cancer. Most soy has also been genetically modified. If you want to know more about this, you should do further research on the dangers of soy.
Soy products that are fermented, such as miso and tempeh are good for you, because fermentation blocks the detrimental effects of phytic acid. Most products containing soy, however, such as soy nuts, most soy milk and tofu are not fermented.
Fruit vs. Fruit Juice
As long as we're picking on health food stores, let's tackle another favorite that such stores usually devote an entire aisle to -fruit juices. While fresh fruit is highly nutritious, the same can't be said for most juices. The reason for this is that juices contain much more highly concentrated amounts of sugar. In short, you'd have to eat quite a bit of fruit -more than you'd be likely to in one sitting- to equal what you'd get in a glass of juice.
Does this mean that you should abandon all "health foods" and gorge on butter, cheese and meat? Of course not. While natural saturated fat can be healthy in moderate quantities, if you're trying to lose weight you should certainly limit your intake of them. The point is, rather, to discourage you from thinking that the popular substitutes for such foods can be safely enjoyed.
If you want to move in the direction of a healthier diet that's also lower in calories, you should focus less on protein and more on vegetables and whole grains. This is hardly original advice, but it's something many people have a hard time doing.
While many of us have cravings for carbs, meat, sweets and fats, it's rare that someone craves an apple, sunflower seeds, carrots or broccoli. When we eat these things, it's usually because we know they're healthy and they are often chosen as appetizers, side dishes or snacks.
Even though it can be difficult, the best way to switch to a healthy diet that's also helpful for weight loss is to start off with the foods you know are good for you. This has to be done both when you go shopping, and when you're cooking (or ordering your food at a restaurant or choosing takeout at a deli). In other words, don't even think about the protein, starchy carbs or dessert until you've chosen the salad, veggies and whole grains.
It may seem strange to plan your meal around a salad or portion of vegetables, but it can be done. In fact, starting meals off with salad, vegetable soups and fresh vegetables is a good way to leave less room for the other stuff that you crave. What's good about this approach is that you don't have to think in terms of depriving yourself of the goodies -you'll be automatically eating them in smaller quantities because you'll have less room for them!
If you follow this practice, your tastes will also gradually change. Not completely -you may still have an urge to feast on fried chicken, pizza, ice cream or whatever your guilty pleasures might be. But you won't feel the need to do so every day, and you'll get accustomed to eating smaller amounts of these treats.
So, to recap, let's go over the principles we've discussed so far.
*** Avoid "fake" foods such as margarine, diet foods, tofu & artificial sweeteners
*** Eat natural or organic saturated fats, but in small to moderate quantities
*** Eat fresh fruit, limit your intake of fruit juice
*** Focus on vegetables, fresh fruit & whole grains first when you shop & cook
*** When you prioritize healthy foods, you'll have less room for less healthy ones
Keep in mind that these are guidelines that can help you eat in a healthier way, but no one is perfect. It's not what you do occasionally that matters, but what you do on a daily basis. So if you're interested in finding healthy foods for weight loss, keep such principles in mind.
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