Going on a diet sounds temporary and intimidating to some, but dieting is beneficial if it helps you discover or rediscover healthy foods. By incorporating these foods into your everyday meal plan, you can lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Incorporating nutritious foods into your diet will also help steer your focus away from empty-calorie foods that provide little or no nutrition -- junk foods such as chips and sweets. Good diet foods provide you with important nutrients such as fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals to help you lose weight and keep it off without sacrificing nutrition and taste.
Kale for Calcium and More
Kale is a nutritious, low-calorie leafy green vegetable that can be prepared in a variety of different ways. One cup of chopped raw kale provides 2 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber, only about 30 calories and a rich supply of the antioxidants vitamin A and C. Kale is a good source of iron and calcium, too. In fact, one study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" shows the calcium in kale may be better absorbed than the calcium in cow's milk. Chop kale and add spices or dressings of your choice, then eat it raw as a salad, or bake it until crisp and enjoy kale chips as a healthy snack. You can also use kale in place of spinach or collard greens in a variety of recipes including soups, salads and casseroles.
High-Quality Protein Source
Quinoa is a seed with qualities of a whole grain; it's good to eat when you are trying to lose weight because it provides all the vitamins, minerals and fiber of whole grains but contains higher-quality protein and usually provides more protein per serving than whole grains. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and roughly 220 calories. The protein in quinoa is complete, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids. Your body cannot synthesize essential amino acids, so they must be obtained from your diet. Quinoa can be cooked and eaten hot or cold as a substitute for rice or pasta. You can also add quinoa to soups and salads.
Heart-Healthy Alternative to Dairy
Switching from dairy milk to unsweetened almond milk can help you cut calories, sugar, bad fats and cholesterol from your diet without losing other important nutrients. Even nonfat milk contains about 5 milligrams of cholesterol and 12 grams of sugar in 1 cup. Almond milk contains zero grams of sugar and only healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat -- no cholesterol or bad fats. According to the American Heart Association, these good unsaturated fats can help you lower cholesterol if you substitute them for saturated and trans fats in your diet. Unsweetned almond milk provides only about 30 calories per cup, which is about 50 calories less than nonfat milk. It is also a good source of calcium and vitamins B-12, A, D and E. In addition, it has 1 to 2 grams of fiber per cup. Use it in place of dairy milk on your cereal and in your oatmeal, coffee and smoothies. You may also prefer flavored unsweetened almond milk, such as chocolate or vanilla.
Oats Provide Full Satisfaction
Oats, a versatile whole grain, are a good source of protein and are high in fiber. One-half cup of raw oats provides approximately 13 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber and 300 calories. The fiber in oats expands when wet, and this helps to keep you full and satisfied until your next meal. Oats can be eaten cooked or raw. Soak raw oats in unsweetened almond milk or nonfat or low-fat yogurt overnight, add cinnamon, honey or fruit and enjoy it as a healthy, satisfying breakfast. You can also add raw oats to smoothies and shakes. Another idea is to add oats in recipes or in the place of breadcrumbs. Add oats to recipes for breads, meatballs or meatloaf. Also use oats in place of breadcrumbs to add crunch to breaded and baked chicken or fish.
Fiber to Feel Full
Celery is a good food to eat plenty of when you are trying to lose weight because it is 95 percent water. There are only about 10 calories in a large celery stalk, and it's fibrous structural build promotes slower chewing. Eating slowly helps you eat less because you give your stomach has more time to let your brain know you are full. Celery can be cooked in recipes or eaten raw as a snack. You can add celery to soups and casseroles to flavor them or pair it raw with a plethora of different dressings and spreads, such as natural peanut butter or light brie cheese.
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Eating Slowly Led to Decreases in Energy Intake Within Meals in Healthy Women
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Food Search
- Fruits & Veggies More Matters: 10 Ways to Enjoy Kale
- Mostly Eating: 20 Ways to Eat More Oats (Even if You Don't Like Porridge)
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Calcium Absorption from Kale
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Quinoa Nutritional Value
- American Heart Association: Unsaturated Fats
- Fruits & Veggies More Matters: About the Buzz: Some Foods Have a Negative Calorie Effect
- Silk Products: Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk Nutrition Facts
- American Diabetes Association: Nutrient Content Claim and Percentage