Variety is the Spice of Life

When trying to lose weight, a lot of times food can become redundant. This can lead to boredom which leads to looking for more “satisfying” foods such as pizza, cookies, hamburgers…etc. But it doesn’t have to be that way! By choosing a variety of healthy foods you can keep things interesting and new.

In addition, this can help promote health. Each food is unique with their own nutritional profiles. When you eat a variety of foods, you are able to get a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs for optimum healthy and performance. For example, one recent study found that those individuals who ate the highest variety of fruits and vegetables (20 different varieties) had the lowest risk for lung cancer.

  • Fruits and Veggies: Each week at the grocery store, try a new fruit or vegetable. Each morning with breakfast try a different fruit. Try a different leafy green like arugula or butter lettuce for your salad. Roast a variety of veggies for a side dish at dinner.
  • Whole Grains: While at the resort, I gave you a sample list of whole grains to choose from. There are so many available and each of them have unique characteristics. So think outside the box! Try corn tortillas instead of whole wheat or serve stir fry over barley. Instead of cereal every morning, try oatmeal, oatbran or even whole grain grits. The other morning for breakfast I cooked red quinoa in cinnamon, vanilla and water and put it over yogurt and fruit. Delicious!
  • Lean Proteins: Try to aim for a different protein source each night. You can cycle through chicken, turkey, pork tenderloin and fish but also try plant proteins as well. For your next stir fry, why not use edamame? Or make a vegetarian chili with a few different kinds of beans. I try to make an egg dish once a week like frittatas, omelets or breakfast burritos.
  • Dairy: Look for high quality dairy products. Greek yogurt is thicker, higher in protein, and less tart than regular yogurts. Organic skim milk can be a good base for cereals but you can even branch out a bit more. Almond milk, rice milk and soy milk are good alternatives to regular. I love unsweetened vanilla almond milk and prefer if over regular milk. It is great cooked in oatmeal or for overnight oats. You can even look for soy or coconut milk yogurt.
  • Fats: A big mistake people make when trying to lose weight is to cut out all fat. Fat is important for satisfaction, mouthfeel and overall health. Just choose fats that will work for you. Use avocado on your sandwich instead of mayo, or hummus instead of thick dressings or dips. Try a variety of nut butters. There are so many available: peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, walnut butter, pumpkin seed butter and sunflower butter to name a few. Even if you can’t find them at your local grocery store, you could throw a bag of nuts or seeds into a food processor and let it go for 10-20 minutes and you will find a thick nut butter remaining.
Variety will go a long way in making changes a lifestyle instead of a diet. Eating healthy can be fun! Sometimes it is all in the way you look at it.
What about you? What are ways you keep things healthy, fun and interesting?
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD