| Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and as Catherine Saxelby deftly notes on the Foodwatch site: “There are oodles of breakfast cereals. What I want is one with the most fiber and/or whole grains but the lowest sugars and sodium.”
Thing is, the cereals Ms. Saxelby favors are painfully bland. My trick is to add oodles of maple syrup, because almost anything healthy — except, of course, kale — tastes better with maple syrup.
Cooking Light magazine reminds us that “Popcorn has a lot of bulk for its calories so it helps fill you up.” They suggest three and a half cups of fat-free popcorn made in a microwave. However, I feel even more filled up after eating an entire bag from Trader Joe’s, preferably the kettle-corn variety. Snacking is more guilt-free once you realize that popcorn is good for you.
Many “health nuts” hail hummus, that Middle Eastern mush of chickpeas, tahini and other flavorings. I’ve incorporated hummus into my diet by combining it with a large bag of ruffled or “scoop-style” potato chips and a significant quantity of beer. (I always choose a “light beer” to avoid “empty calories.”)
Full disclosure: I’ve never been a fan of plain yogurt, even drowned in maple syrup. Yet science tells us this B12-rich food works wonders, such as reducing moodiness. So I’d like to give a shout out to the Yoplait company for thoroughly de-yogurtizing yogurt.
Among Yoplait’s best flavors are Strawberry Cheesecake and Boston Cream Pie. My personal favorite is Banana Split. I’ll bet Yoplait doesn’t even realize that health-conscious kids are drawn to the photos of cake and pie on the containers.
I struggled with diet and nutrition until I read this helpful advice from WebMD: “If you eat a high-calorie food or meal, balance your intake by choosing low-calorie foods the rest of the day or the next day.”
This simple tip has pretty much changed my life. Now I can eat a large pizza with three toppings from Domino’s while on the couch watching a ballgame, knowing that although it is “high-calorie,” I’ll conscientiously eat only low-calorie food, like popcorn, in the remaining hour or so before bed.
As you chart your diet, remember that nothing counts if it’s eaten outside your home — at a party, a restaurant, sports stadium, etc. These are places where experts advise, “be good to yourself.” Another thing: Free food never counts against a diet, nor does birthday cake, nor Buffalo wings in an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Finally, if you’re not consuming enough fresh fruit, join the civilized world in using one of those juice-making machines. Here’s a recipe I found online that works with any fruit. Liquefy, then mix two parts juice with one part vodka.
Here’s to your health!
(c) Peter Funt. This column originally appeared in The New York Times.