Three steps for self-love through nutrition

By Roufia Payman, DT, CDN  |  2/26/2019

If you could do a few little things today to be healthier, I have three tips: eat five cups of vegetables every day, drink more water and really be mindful of what you eat. To love your heart, you need to eat better.

Eat Vegetables. Vegetables are your best friend. Buy cauliflower, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, spinach, kale, swiss chard and carrots. Rice cauliflower is the best thing that has ever been invented. It is so good for you, very convenient because you buy it frozen and fills you up.  

You want to jazz up your vegetables. Plain zucchini might not sound appetizing. Add shallots, garlic, fresh lime or lemon juices. It changes the taste. Be brave. Use herbs and spices in place of salt and butter to make your vegetables taste good. 

Another easy way to get your five cups of vegetables is to eat more salads. Swap out the bag of pretzels or the fries with your burger for a healthy salad. 

Drink Water. Don't drink fruit juices, soda or sports drinks. Water is the best for you. If you don't have congestive heart failure, you should drink 64 ounces of water per day. When you feel you are hungry, 90 percent of the time you are dehydrated.

Even alcohol turns into fat around your abdomen, which is the worst kind of fat in terms of risk for heart disease and diabetes. Limit yourself to two drinks a week max.

Be mindful. My favorite food on the planet is nuts. However, as good as they are for you, a cup of nuts has 800 calories. If you eat 100 extra calories a day, you gain a pound a month, 12 pounds in a year and in three years, you are up 36 pounds. Belly fat is a killer. It leads to prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease, especially if you have bad genetics.

Think about what you eat on a daily basis. Read labels. Research the ingredients. Box cereal terrible for you. Meanwhile, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. High fructose corn syrup is the No. 1 worst thing for you. Get some healthy protein to start your day, such as steel cut oats or an omelet with leafy greens. 

Moderation is key. You can avoid putting on that extra weight with portion control. Did you know a regular bagel is five slices of bread? I get it. You love them. So scoop out the middle and only eat one a month. 

Even when we eat the good things, like brown rice and fruit, we eat too much. We have portion distortion in this country. Quinoa, millet and farro are good whole grains. But look at serving sizes. Look at the grams of carbohydrates. Too much of a good thing is not good either. 

Eating healthy shouldn't be such a big deal. It is easy. Cooking for yourself and taking the time to eat healthy foods is self-love. 

Roufia Payman is supervisor of outpatient  Nutritional Counseling at Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck. She also co-teaches a Diabetes Prevention Program, a no-cost 16-week workshop for adults at risk of type 2 diabetes. Call 845-871-3600 for more information.