Are you interested in losing weight, boosting your energy, reaching your fitness goals, or preventing chronic disease through healthy choices? As the Greek physician, Hippocrates famously said,
“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”
Food is fuel. The products you buy from the grocery store, the meals you prepare, and the drinks you consume all impact your overall mental and physical health. Eating healthily is not a one-size-fits-all. There is no one diet that will best suit everyone.
Canadians want to improve their health habits. A recent study found that:
- 34.5% of Canadians want to drink more water and fluids
- 21.2% of Canadians want to eat more fruits and vegetables
- 9% of Canadians want to consume smaller portions
- 4.6% of Canadians want to consume less red meat
With millions of Canadians interested in losing weight, there are many extreme diets on the market that promise to help you shed pounds in a short time period. Beware of extreme diets. Dieting can cause people to enter a vicious cycle of temporary weight loss and fast weight gain.
The best way to develop healthy eating habits is by starting small and slowly implementing behaviours that you can maintain long-term. Learn more about how to get started, eat healthily, and potentially lose excess weight.
How to Get Started: Eating Healthily and Losing Weight
Before you start transforming your habitual eating patterns, it’s important that you make a plan so that you can be successful in building new healthy habits. A balanced diet involves a lot of organization and planning before it becomes instinctual.
Several factors cause people to fall back into unhealthy habits, including:
- Short on time
- Don’t enjoy cooking or know how to cook
- Don’t have the necessary ingredients
- Unsure what to cook
Many of these factors can cause people to order fast food, microwave dinner, or eat a packaged food item from their cupboard. Planning and preparing food in advance can help you stay on track and stay committed to your food plan.
How to Plan Healthy Meals
The first step to get started is to start planning and organizing your weekly meals. You don’t have to prepare the entire week’s worth of meals on Sunday night, but it’s helpful to outline a general idea of the meals you want to consume. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Decide how many meals and snacks you will eat per day
- Discover how many calories you should consume based on your age, weight, goals, and activity level using a calorie calculator
- Plan your meals and try to repeat meals to make grocery shopping easier
- Make a comprehensive grocery list segmented by meals and stock up on the necessary ingredients
- Try batch cooking. On Saturday or Sunday, cook all your meals for the next week. This will help you save a lot of time.
- Freeze extra meals you have batch cooked but are not planning on eating for a few days.
Discover some great meals for losing weight.
What Food Should You Eat to Lose Weight?
There is no one diet or meal plan that is suitable for everyone. Kale isn’t healthy for someone unable to digest it and rice isn’t bad for someone who has consistently used it as a staple in their recipes. A big part of eating healthy for weight loss is learning how to cook meals that you love from whole foods.
Whole foods are non-processed foods that our ancestors would recognize. The majority of your grocery shopping should be done on the perimeter of the store where you will find fresh fruits and vegetables.
Calorie-counting is unsustainable long-term. It’s time-consuming and can be restrictive. However, if you’re making a big change in your life and trying to eat more healthily for the first time, it’s beneficial to track your food and calorie intake for a week to better understand how much energy you’re consuming.
A calorie is a unit of measurement that measures the amount of energy we are consuming from food. An important point: not all calories are processed in the body the same way. 100 calories of oil and 100 calories of leafy greens will have profoundly different effects on the body.
If your primary goal is weight loss, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole foods rich in vitamins minerals, fibres, and water content are key.
Green vegetables are particularly good when wanting to lose weight: arugula. spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, celery, lettuce, green beans etc.
When it comes to selecting fruits to eat, try to eat fruits that are high in fibre and low in sugar. Fruits like dates and cherries are delicious and great every once and a while, but they have a very high sugar content and should be limited. Fruits like apples are very high in fibre and good for digestion with less sugar.
Protein is also an important part of a balanced meal and will help you feel full longer. Protein helps build and maintain muscle and can be found in a diverse array of foods, such as eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, soy products, and even vegetables.
If you’re trying to lose weight try to limit the following foods:
- Oils: Aim for trace amounts of olive oil for cooking and avoid vegetable oil.
- Fatty dairy products: Limit high-fat dairy products, including ice cream.
- Wheat: Cut down on starchy carbohydrates like processed bread and baked goods.
- Sugary drinks: High-sugar beverages are empty calories that spike your blood sugar with no nutrient benefits.
- Deep-fried food: Skip the french fries and fast food to lose weight.
- Alcohol: Alcohol, especially beer, can slow down your weight-loss efforts.
- Sugar: Limit sugary foods and over time your cravings will decrease.
Learn more about the best ingredients for weight loss.
Do Diets Work for Losing Weight?
Do diets work? Experts think as many as 80 to 95 percent of people gain back the weight they lost on a diet. Endocrinologist and obesity specialist Dr. Marcio Griebeler, MD says, “Research tells us that yo-yo dieting can negatively affect your metabolism. It doesn’t matter the diet: low-carb, low-fat, ketogenic, whatever. We see rebound weight gain almost every time.”
How do you lose weight when there is evidence that dieting is ineffective? A weight-loss diet is typically restrictive and aims to quickly lose weight in a designated time frame. To keep the pounds off, you will have to shift your focus from a diet to a sustainable lifestyle change.
Eating healthily and losing weight is achieved through incremental improvements, consistency, and sustainable habits. You have to learn how to make delicious foods that you love and develop a healthy lifestyle that you would never trade for your old unhealthy habits.
Weight loss needs to be lasting to be effective. That’s why any diet that promises a flat stomach in two weeks should be avoided.
The two major lifestyle changes that will influence your weight loss journey are your eating habits and your exercise habits.
There are three diets that involve long-term eating habit changes and have been proven to be effective for boosting overall health, reducing chronic illness, and aiding weight loss efforts.
- The Mediterranean Diet
- The Flexitarian Diet
- The Low Gi Diet
There are several factors that can enable you to be successful, including social support and education. Groups like Weight Watchers allow like-minded individuals to connect and support one another in their journey to live a healthier life.
You can also download apps and connect with certified nutritionists to help you decide your meals, count calories, and create long-term healthy habits.
Discover some great ways to lose weight.
Healthy Recipes for Losing Weight
It’s possible to make delicious meals that are rife with nutrients and easy to make. You can have it all!
Breakfast: Easy Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are a popular breakfast choice because you can prepare them the night before in a mason jar and store them for the week. This breakfast can be eaten cold or warmed up to be enjoyed like creamy warm oatmeal. Oatmeal is packed with protein and provides sustainable energy throughout the day.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt (or non-dairy coconut yogurt)
- 1 cup milk of choice (unsweetened almond milk)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1–2 tablespoon sweetener of choice (honey or maple syrup)
- 1 tablespoon of nut butter
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds or flax seeds
- Fresh or frozen berries
- Coconut shreds
- Place all ingredients into a large glass container and mix until combined.
- Cover and place into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Eat with your favourite toppings including nut butter and berries.
Lunch: Vegetarian Nourish Bowl
The Nourish Bowl is one of the most versatile lunches because you can swap ingredients and eat according to the season. The following bowl is an excellent choice for autumn but can be enjoyed any time of the year.
Ingredients: The Bowl
- 1½ cups (255 g) uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 2¼ cups (540 mL) water
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 1 Tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 cm cubes
- 2½ cups (388 g) Brussels sprouts
- 2 cups (60 g) fresh spinach
- ⅓ cup (43 g) roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup (44 g) pomegranate seeds
- 2 Tbsp (20 g) dried cranberries
Ingredients: The Sauce
- ¼ cup (60 mL) tahini
- 3 Tbsp (45 mL) water
- 1 tsp (5 mL) miso paste
- 1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C).
- Toss the oil, onion, garlic, sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake on the middle rack of the oven until cooked to your liking, about 40 - 50 minutes, stopping halfway to stir.
- Place quinoa and water in a pot. Crush in the bouillon cube, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, partially cover, and allow to cook for 15 - 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is al dente.
- Add the sauce ingredients to a small food processor and blend (or add to a bowl and whisk) until well combined.
- To create your bowl add greens, quinoa, and baked veggies. Sprinkle on the almonds, pomegranate seeds, and cranberries. Drizzle on the sauce and enjoy!
Finish your day with a filling and delicious salmon dish. After a long day of work and balancing personal responsibilities, you may not feel like making a time-consuming or complex dinner on weeknights. This dish inspired by the Mediterranean Diet is a simple, healthy meal for the evening.
- 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
- 4 cups broccoli florets (8 oz.; 1 medium crown)
- 1 ¼ pounds salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions
- 2 limes, 1 zested and juiced, 1 cut into wedges for serving
- ¼ cup crumbled feta or cotija cheese
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
- Combine mayonnaise and chilli powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Toss sweet potatoes with 2 tsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl. Spread on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss broccoli with the remaining 2 tsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper in the same bowl. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Stir the sweet potatoes and move them to the sides of the pan. Arrange salmon in the center of the pan and spread the broccoli on either side, among the sweet potatoes. Spread 2 Tbsp. of the mayonnaise mixture over the salmon. Bake until the sweet potatoes are tender and the salmon flakes easily with a fork, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add lime zest and lime juice to the remaining 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise; mix well.
- Divide the salmon among 4 plates and top with cheese and cilantro. Divide the sweet potatoes and broccoli among the plates and drizzle with the lime-mayonnaise sauce. Serve with lime wedges and any remaining sauce.
Learn more about losing weight healthily.
Educate Yourself About Eating Healthily
If you'd like to learn more about healthy eating, nutrition, and cooking, consider getting help from one of the many talented and experienced private tutors on Superprof.
There are several different types of tutorials available but they all fall into one of three main categories: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.
The type of tutorial you choose depends on your preferences. Private sessions with a tutor are often the most personalized to your needs but tend to be the more expensive option. You could save on overhead costs by hiring a private tutor online rather than in person.
Group classes are the more affordable option and can be excellent for meeting like-minded people, creating a social support system, and connecting with others.