Mental Monday

We're all looking for that magic bullet, and we all want fast and easy. But we all know, taking the easy route isn't always the right route. I'm a firm believer that taking the longer route will teach you lessons that will last a lifetime, because you work harder and longer to learn that lesson.

Be that as it may, I still admit to looking for shortcuts whenever possible. This recent article from Weight Watchers caught my eye, and I'm pleased to share it with you. I think you'll find the tips informative, educational, and helpful!


7 Fast, No-Fuss Ways to Eat Smarter

Too busy to make sure you're eating foods that are good for you? No sweat! Try our no-frills approach to healthy eating.

Who says healthy eating has to be work? Our nutrition experts let us in on some super-fast, incredibly easy ways to fill up on foods that are good for you. Try these tips:

1. Get sneaky. That is, sneak fruits and vegetables — excellent sources of disease-fighting vitamins, fiber, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals — into the foods you already eat, advises Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, author of Stealth Health: How to Sneak Nutrition Painlessly into Your Diet (Penguin, 2000).

Top off your morning cereal or yogurt, for example, with blueberries, peaches and the like. Add finely chopped carrots, broccoli and kale to pasta sauces, meat loaf, soups and salads. (Hint: Buy them ready-cut at your supermarket.)

2. While you're at it, experiment with exotic fruits, such as papaya, mango, melon and fresh pineapple. "Tropical fruits are especially potent sources of antioxidants," says Felicia Busch, RD, author of New Nutrition: From Antioxidants to Zucchini (John Wiley & Sons, 2000).

3. Check your iron intake. Iron helps carry oxygen to the blood and deliver it to cells. Without enough iron on board, you're apt to feel sluggish and fatigued. But consult with your physician first to evaluate your iron stores, because too much of a good thing can be just as bad for you.

To up your iron intake if needed, consume a vitamin C-rich food, such as orange or tomato juice, with meals. If there's iron in any of the other foods you're eating, "you'll increase your body's iron absorption two to four times," says Tribole.

4. Down some veggies. Another no-fuss way to eat more veggies? "Drink vegetable juice," Busch suggests. Besides offering disease-fighting nutrients, "most vegetable juices are blends, so they provide more unique combinations of vegetables that you might not otherwise eat," says Busch. A varied diet maximizes your body's arsenal of health-promoting nutrients, she says.

5. Milk those calcium moments Choose calcium-fortified juice instead of the regular version — you'll get as much calcium (300 milligrams) as you would in a glass of milk (although milk has more nutrients, particularly vitamin D, which helps absorb calcium). Make oatmeal and other hot cereals with skim milk instead of water, and switch to skinny lattes (2/3 skim milk, 1/3 strong coffee) instead of regular coffee, suggests Tribole.

6. Don't bypass beans at the salad bar. They're an underrated source of disease-fighting fiber, as well as a great source of iron, protein and folate, the last of which is especially important for women of child-bearing age, says Busch. Studies show that a diet high in fiber can even help keep your weight in check.

Use canned, rinsed beans in salads, and incorporate them into soups, stews and sauces.

7. Choose fish. "The average American eats fish about once a week," says Busch. But two to three times a week is better — so why not grill some up, or make a filet in minutes in your broiler pan?

Fish, especially coldwater fish like salmon, is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid, the heart-healthy fat that helps lower LDL (or "bad") cholesterol. "Eating more fish may also reduce your cancer risk," says Busch, "and even lower your blood pressure."



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