Finding food that is a combination of healthy and tastes great is forever a challenge, especially if you are trying to lose weight and are avoiding previously enjoyed foods that are too high in calories and not nutritious. The goal of this post is to discuss high-protein, good carbohydrate and good fat options that can become healthful habits to carry on forever.
Building good eating habits typically can be as tough as creating time to exercise. Doing both for the first time in the same month can lead to failure. That is why New Year's resolutions are not in our vocabulary by February. But here is a list to try and see what resonates with you as you build better habits of nutritious eating and end bad habits of consuming not-so-healthy foods.
1. Beef jerky: It is an acquired taste, but with all the jerky flavor options out there, you can find something you like if you do not mind gnawing on dried-out beef. Avoid jerky with monosodium glutamate, as many people have issues with headaches, digestion and even blurred vision after eating foods with MSG in them.
2. Boiled eggs: The complete protein -- eggs. Along with red meat, poultry, seafood and dairy, eggs contain all of the essential amino acids our body needs for everything. If you are not into these types of meals, you at least should supplement with a protein powder.
3. Protein powder: Do you need a protein powder that is considered a food? A recommended source is Ascent Protein, as it is classified as food, not a supplement. It is a pure protein on the same caliber as the protein powder in baby formula. Mix powder into delicious shakes, smoothies or just a glass of water or milk.
3. Peanut butter: A tablespoon of peanut butter yields protein and monounsaturated fats (good fats that help prevent heart disease). It is pretty high in calories -- roughly 100 calories per tablespoon -- but it's a good snack that gives you protein, carbs and fats.
4. Seeds: Sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and even hemp seeds are rich in nutrients. You should try to limit the sodium of some of these seeds if you are on a lower sodium diet. However, these seeds are high in fiber, antioxidants and good fats. Check for flavoring ingredients. Some are natural ingredients for flavoring, while others are not and will contain nitrates, MSG and other artificial flavors.
5. Green leafy salads: This is where you can go nuts with healthful additions. Make a big bowl with a head of green leafy lettuce. Chop up a tomato or two, carrot sticks, mushrooms, strawberries and even sliced avocado or almonds on top. For a complete meal, add in a can of tuna or a piece of salmon or chicken.
6. Looking for a good tuna? Try the Safe Catch brand. It contains 10 times lower mercury levels than other brands and has some incredible ways to prepare tuna for any preference. It's safe for pregnant women and kids.
7. Greek yogurt: Mix in blueberries or strawberries into a bowl of Greek yogurt, and you have a very healthy snack full of vitamins and minerals as well as protein and probiotics for digestion health.
8. Chicken and brown rice: One of my favorite go-to smaller meals or snacks is to cook a chicken and mix it with a big bowl of brown rice. Flavor to your taste. This is a great meal that is high in protein, fiber, some carbs and fat, but if you keep it to a serving size, you can limit total calories to 200-300 calories and feel satiated.
9. Sweet potatoes: If you like potatoes, try replacing your white potatoes with sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins, mineral, antioxidants, fiber, low in fat and a good amount of carbohydrates. They go with about anything and are easy to make in a microwave for a few minutes.
10. Steamed broccoli: If you are willing to try several of the other foods above, you should consider these healthy green vegetables. Even kids like broccoli, if you can soften it with a quick steamer. Try to avoid dips, as many of them are extra fat calories and contain MSG.
I hope you find that these foods are viable options to what you are eating now. Sometimes a simple change of adding something new and eliminating something bad (well, maybe not so simple) is the magic solution to feeling better and losing weight at the same time. Stay motivated and turn this motivation into a good habit of being disciplined. (see related article).
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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