10 Ways to Clean up Your Diet

1. Reduce or omit fats. You can usually reduce the called for amount of oil in regular recipes by at least 1/3-1/2 without affecting taste. Use leaner cuts of meat (such as chicken breast instead of the whole bird). Try sautťing with broth, vegetable juice, citrus juices, and non-stick cooking spray.

Decrease simple carbohydrates. Sugar and other useless carbs have a way of sneaking into everything from our breakfast cereals to the gum we chew. Use sugar replacements or cut the amount of sugar used in recipes by 1/3-1/2.

3. Substitute,substitute,substitute. Look for ways to substitute commonly used ingredients. Replace 1 egg with two egg whites, sugar with an artificial sweetener, canned vegetables with fresh, frozen or no sodium added varieties. Mix high fat dips half & half with non-fat sour cream, low fat yogurt or low fat cottage cheese, to reduce calories and fat.

4. Bulk up with vegetables. When you remove excess pasta, sauce, or other ingredients from a dish but know youíll want a big plate, just add extra fibrous vegetables like broccoli or green peppers. Start your meal with salad or veggies to fill up, so you don't overeat on higher fat/calorie foods in the meal.

5. Go naked. Learn to enjoy the texture, tastes, and aroma of food that isnít drenched in gravies or bathed in cheese. Think about all the things you can do to make dishes with ingredients left closer to their natural state. Good, fresh, simple food doesnít need to soak in butter.

6. Get fresh. Use fresh or frozen versions of ingredients as much as you can as opposed to dried, processed, canned, or heavily salted or preservative laden ingredients. The taste, scent, and nutritional value fresh herbs and vegetables cooking on the stove will be unmatched.

7. Value Aesthetics. Use different colors and textures of vegetables or two opposing flavors in a dish to make them more interesting such as red and green vegetables or soft and crunchy ingredients in the same dish. Simple things like this can make the shift to a healthier diet less noticeable.

8. Spice it right. Use vegetables that are naturally sweeter like red peppers or tomatoes or spicier like chile peppers, bold like garlic and onion, or tangy like lemon juice to minimize the need for heavy sauces, sugars, and salts.

9. Increase the Protein. While your busy skimming out saturated fat and empty sugar calories, think about getting in that 1-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight for building lean muscle tissue. Increase the amount and possibly replace the type of protein called for in a recipe to ensure you arenít short-changing your muscles.

10. Mind Portions. Sometimes all you need to do is remember portion sizes. The 3 cup serving of rice on your plate at a restaurant is not a serving- itís actually 6 servings, and a cheap way of tricking you into thinking you got a good deal! Avoid all-you-can-eat venues, get half portions or split an entree with a friend.
Nanci S. Guest is a certified personal trainer & nutritionist, and is completing her Master of Science degree in nutrition this June. She owns "Power Play: Nutrition, Fitness, Performance" in Vancouver, BC, and for the past 8 years she has been providing individuals, sports teams & the community with nutritional consulting & personal training services, as well as research services, seminars and article writing for local & national publications.

Her specialization is sports nutrition, catering to a variety of athletes of all levels. Some of her elite athletic clientele include members of the Vancouver Canucks, the Vancouver Giants & the BC Lions, the Canadian National Freestyle Ski Team, Iron Man participants, athletic teams from BC high schools and universities, and a variety of other provincial and national team members.

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