So, you’ve made the decision that you want to make an earnest attempt at weightloss. Good for you! I’m really excited for the journey that you’ve decided to embark on and wish you success. You might now be thinking “I want to lose weight, but HOW do I actually do it?” A lot of us know the basics (eat fewer calories than you burn in day), but what about the nuts and bolts of healthy living? One of the biggest changes I had to make when I decided to live a more healthy lifestyle was my grocery list. For me, I find that if I have less-than-healthy food in the cupboard, I am going to eat it. Keep in mind that my philosophy of healthy living focuses primarily on sustainability and a big part of that is allowing yourself to eat foods that you love (pizza, burgers, whatever), but to do so in moderation and in appropriate portions. If I do decide to eat something less-than-healthy, I typically purchase it on the same day that I’m going to eat it. OK, let’s get on with it; my grocery list for sustainable healthy living… (oh, and just keep in mind that this is MY grocery list for what works for ME. YOU need to figure out what works for YOU… so feel free to make substitution where YOU think they are needed… own your own health.)
Yogurt – I like to get yogurt from time to time. Just check the labels to make sure you’re getting the healthiest possible option. It can be tricky, but you’re looking for lowest calories AND lowest fat. Sometimes products listed as ‘Fat-Free’ have substituted the fat with higher sugar content, so just keep your eyes open. I also like to get yogurt tubes and freeze them quick, healthy snack. Also, Greek yogurt is higher in protein, so keep an eye out for that as well.
Almond Milk – I switched from milk to almond milk a couple of months ago. The main reason for this that it contains less sugar than skim milk (usually 7g compared to 12g per serving). I realize that you may not get as much calcium or protein from almond milk, but more than enough both of these can be obtained through a balanced diet.
Parmesan Cheese – I get parmesan cheese to help flavour some of the dishes I make… and I love cheese. Parmesan cheese allows the taste of cheese to come through, without having to pile on a lot of it.
Margarine – As with yogurt, I try to find the healthiest possible choice. I haven’t really done enough research on the whole ‘butter v.s. margarine’ debate, but I buy maragine and it has worked for me.
Coffee – For me, this one is a must. I think one of the key’s to being able to maintain a healthy lifestyle is finding something that you allow yourself to indulge in that you can have as much as you want of without seriously affecting your weightloss. For me, that something is coffee. I drink my coffee black, but try to find flavoured beans to help improve the taste.
Diet Soda – I am fully aware of the ‘aspartame in diet soda will kill you’ debate, but I have decided that it is something I need to maintain my weight. It helps soften that sweet tooth I have and gives me something to have while I watch T.V. or relax. It also doesn’t hurt that it contains ZERO calories per serving.
Fruits and Vegetables
Spaghetti Squash – This is one of my favourite vegetables. Usually I substitute pasta for spaghetti squash and highly recommend that you try it. When cooked, it has a texture similar to spaghetti, but without all the carbohydrates.
Onions – Onions are the backbone of everything I cook. I usually saute them in a bit of olive oil and then build the rest of my meal around them. I usually buy yellow onions to cook with, red onions to put in wraps/sandwiches, green onions for soup or as a topping for stir-fry.
Garlic – I don’t know if I could maintain a healthy diet without garlic. Garlic makes takes most food from good to great. I usually saute garlic with my onions.
Cucumber – I’m not a huge fan of the actual taste of cucumbers, but they are a good substitute for crackers when eating dips. They are also a good lunch combo for tuna, substituting for bread.
Lettuce/Spinach – I’m more likely to buy lettuce, but can go for spinach from time to time. Used for making salads… duh.
Tomatoes – I usually buy canned tomatoes for putting in chili or meat sauce, but will also buy fresh to put in wraps or on sandwich.
Mushrooms – Mushrooms go great with a lot of meals. I usually saute them along with onions and garlic.
Peppers – Peppers (red, green, orange, or whatever) go great in wraps, on sandwiches or sauted with onions and garlic. Another stable in the majority of food I cook.
Carrots – Carrots are another good food to dip with, but are also great roasted and sauted. They also go great in soups.
Celery – I really like putting celery in soup, especially its leaves. so tasty. Also good in stirfry.
Cabbage -This one is another favourite as it is filling and really taste when cooked with some onions and garlic.
Berries – I love eating berries for snacks as they take care of my sweet tooth
Pineapple – Another great snack food
Apples – Also great for snacks. I will sometimes pair with cinnamon and Splenda for a little variation.
Banana’s – Good snack again. For a little twist, you can freeze banana’s, blend them up and add a little syrup to make a pretty delightful substitute for ice cream.
Frozen Mixed Fruit – I like to get frozen fruit to mix into smoothies. Just make sure to check the label as some frozen fruits have added syrup and those extra calories can add up quickly.
Chicken – I buy frozen chicken breasts. Very versatile and can be used in A LOT of different meals. I will also buy seasoned cooked chicken to add to salads or wraps. I avoid chicken wings, as they are usually really high in fat.
Fish – I’m still getting used to eating a lot of fish, but because it is so healthy (high protein, low-fat) I do my best to eat fish at least once a week. My favourite is tilapia as I find it has a really mild ‘fishy’ taste.
Shrimp – Similar to fish and very versatile like chicken.
Wild Game – I try to avoid eating beef in favour of meat that is lower in fat and less processed. I actually get deer meat from my father-in-law and wife, who hunt, but if that is not an option, I would seek out a butcher near you who sells wild game. Once it’s cooked, the differences are subtle and who knows… you might like the taste of wild meat more.
Wraps – I buy whole-wheat wraps and eat them maybe 2 times a week for lunch. They are good because you can stuff so many veggies into them.
Bread – If I buy bread, which is pretty rare, it is white rye bread. At only 70 calories a slice, it is the lowest calorie bread I have found. For me, this is more of a treat to have around than something I buy on a regular shop.
Cereal – I eat cereal every morning for breakfast. I usually try to label compare to make sure I am getting the healthiest option. What I look for is high fibre and low sugar.
Yams – I really like yams, or sweet potatoes as they are sometimes called. A good treat, but just make sure it is a treat and not a regular occurence as they can be really high in carbohydrates.
Quinoa – I like to have quinoa from time to time. It is a grain that is as easy to cook as rice, but much higher in protein.
Spices and Other’s
The key to delicious food, in my opinion, is the type of spices you use when cooking. You need to figure out what flavours you like, and use them to make the food you cook taste how you want it to. The seasonings I most commonly use are salt, garlic powder, chili powder, lemon/dill flavour, steak spice, and ginger. You need to find what works for you. Other things I buy at the grocery store are salsa, hot sauce, olive oil, and humus.
Phew. That’s quite the list. Well… now you have all the food and ingredients to make some pretty tasty AND healthy food. In the coming days/weeks I will post some of my favourite recipe’s. Don’t be scared to try cooking these foods and if you have other foods that you love to eat that are healthy, please feel free to provide them in the comments. Happy weightloss everyone! Dan