Eating right can be a tall order for some people, so having a few key, general guidelines can come in handy. While self-discipline, will power, and personal motivation all play a part, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is imperative for everyone, despite genetics, personal lifestyle choices, or family history. If you’re looking to kick-start your diet, consider these five foods that will start you off on the right foot.
1. Zucchini pasta
If you’re a carb-lover, realizing you need to cut back on your pasta intake is probably the worst news. No matter how disciplined you might be throughout the day, there’s no denying the hold a big bowl of pasta has over you. According to Colette Heimowitz, VP of Nutrition and Education at Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., and the nutritionist who works directly with Kim Kardashian, one of the best ways to kick-start your diet is to swap traditional carb-heavy snacks and meals for low-carb alternatives. With just one bowl of pasta, you could be taking in more than an entire day’s worth of net carbs in just one serving, which is why Heimowitz suggests swapping your traditional brand of noodles for zucchini spaghetti.
2. In-season veggies
According to Heimowitz, now’s the time to take advantage of all the spring vegetables coming into season, such as artichokes, asparagus, spinach, snow peas, Swiss chard, radicchio, and more. “There’s nothing better than fresh vegetables drizzled with a rich sauce, like hollandaise sauce or broccoli florets with lemon butter sauce,” Heimowitz said. “And you can slice up leftover grilled steak and serve over a fresh spinach salad.”
3. Healthy snacks
As Heimowitz told us, “Healthy snacks will keep your metabolism moving and your hunger at bay,” and suggests keeping a few staples on hand throughout the day, such as fresh veggies, roll up sliced ham, turkey, roast beef, smoked salmon, or hard-boiled eggs.
4. Prebiotic foods
As research shows, unhealthy gut flora can undermine even the best weight loss efforts, which is why Jamie Morea, Gut Health Expert and Co-Founder of Hyperbiotics, recommends that anyone starting a new diet combine a high-quality probiotic supplement with fresh, organic, whole foods high in plant-based fiber — or prebiotics. “Prebiotics are to probiotics what fertilizer is to a garden,” Morea said. “They are the foods that nourish the healthy bacteria and help them to “set up shop” and thrive in your GI tract. Incorporating foods that are high in prebiotic fibers into your diet is an essential part of the journey toward a balanced microbiome — aka your best self.” Additionally, some tips for eating more prebiotic foods, Morea said, include snacking on pistachios and hummus with jicama sticks, adding fresh asparagus and apple cider vinegar to salad, soaking oats overnight instead of cooking them for a delicious raw oatmeal with honey and bananas, making a salsa or guac with fresh onion and garlic, and buying sprouted grain breads and replacing white rice with quinoa.
5. Protein-packed foods
We all need protein, and our bodies won’t survive without some source of it. According to Dr. Robert Wildman, PhD, RD, FISSN and Chief Protein Officer for Premier Nutrition Corporation, moderation is a main ingredient to success. “By ensuring that your diet derives protein from a variety of sources can help deliver a lot of other beneficial nutrients including omega-3 fats from fish, calcium from dairy, and vitamin B12 from meats,” Wildman said. Additionally, protein gives you long-lasting energy, is satisfying, and helps to relieve bouts of hunger, since it takes longer to digest and keeps you fuller, longer. “Protein is more thermogenic than carbohydrates or fat, meaning that your body burns more calories after eating protein rich foods than it does consuming other food groups,” Wildman said.