Time to discuss one of the most feared words in diet history… CALORIES.
If calories had two descriptive words attached the most common I hear are the following: Good or Bad. Why have we done this to ourselves? We have demonized calories in such a way that we have overthought the idea behind calorie counting. We punish ourselves when we go over our calories or we find ourselves paralyzed at the thought of trying to track our food. It’s time to take the fear away from the word calorie. Let’s focus on prioritizing the foods that provide nutritious calories, vitamins, and essential minerals.
Vegetables: Packed with vitamins and minerals like Iron, Potassium, Vitamin C, and more.
- Asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, leafy greens, leeks, onion, fennel, zucchini, butternut squash, pumpkin, peppers, eggplant, fennel, mushrooms
Fruits: An excellent source for antioxidants, Vitamin C and Vitamin B.
- berries, bananas, apples, citrus, figs, cherries, pomegranate, watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, pineapple, papaya, avocado, tomatoes, peaches, plums, apricots, etc.
Animal Protein: Protein is required to strengthen and develop muscles, partnered with Omega Fatty Acids make Animal Protein essential.
- Salmon, chicken breast, lean cuts of meat, turkey breast, cod, grouper, sea bass, shrimp, crab, oysters, rainbow trout, eggs, dairy, etc.
Healthy Fats: Don’t be scared off by the term “fat.” Healthy fats increase satiation and contribute to a healthy, balanced diet.
- Olive oil, grape seed oil, nut oils, salmon, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meats, sustainably raised seafood, avocado, etc.
Whole Grains: Whole grains burn slower, unleashing more energy over time without leaving you hungry in a couple hours.
- Brown rice, farro, millet, amaranth, wheat berries, quinoa, teff, spelt, barley, etc.
Beans & Legumes: All the protein without unnecessary calories.
- Black beans, white beans, red kidney beans, lentils (all colors), chickpeas, edamame, etc.
Nuts and Seeds: Healthy fats and slowly digestible fibers make these perfect for snacks.
- Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, cashews, flaxseed, pumpkin seed, chia seed, sunflower seeds, nut butters
Starchy Vegetables: Part of a balanced diet, especially when prepared properly to increase flavor but limit excess calories.
- Sweet potatoes, red potatoes, rutabaga, winter squash, corn, peas, beets, etc.
Dairy & Dairy Substitute: Protein packed, but also potentially calorie packed. Focus on using dairy as an addition to a well-balanced meal, not the centerpiece.
- Prioritize yogurt, kefir, organic dairy, soy milk, almond milk, quinoa milk, cheese as a flavor enhancer, etc.
Water: Helps your joints, muscle function, brain function, and energy levels.
- All day, every day.
- Red wine in moderation, dark chocolate (85% and above), herbs, vinegars, spices, seasonings, tea, coffee, etc.
All of these healthy foods are flavor and vitamin rich. Let’s reframe our mind on the food versus looking at the calories. At Hilton Head Health, we aren’t afraid of the calories, we don’t try to create a meal that is 300 calories. Instead, we focus on the types of food we want to deliver then make sure we make it happen with proper portions and tons of flavor—while maintaining an appropriate calorie range. Now that is what I call a different mentality that I would recommend all to have at home.