“There are many diet plans on the market today that promote good health,” says Emily Kyle, RDN, who is in private practice in Rochester, New York. “The key is finding one that does not cause you stress or agony.” Ask yourself questions such as: Would the diet guidelines make you happy? Anxious? Stressed? Are you able to follow them long term? “Factors such as enjoyment, flexibility, and longevity should be strongly considered,” adds Kyle.
If you do it right, snacks also make a healthy contribution to your weight-loss plan. Keep them snack-size and know ahead of time when you're going to eat them, such as in between lunch and dinner or after dinner. Keep snack calories to 200 or less. Good options include 2 cups of air-popped popcorn tossed with 12 peanuts; a container of nonfat yogurt with 1/2 cup of unsweetened whole-grain cereal; 2 cups of raw veggies such as broccoli, cucumbers and carrots with 1/4 cup of hummus; or 1 tablespoon of almond butter with a small apple.
When you're eating to protect your ticker, researchers have realized that it isn't about clearing your fridge of all fat, but rather focusing on the right type. "Choosing foods with omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and poly-unsaturated fats can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol even more than limiting the cholesterol you eat," says Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, a professor of nutrition at Penn State University.
While 1,200 may be the right number for some, it can be super restrictive for others, says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Try basing your meals and snacks off this plan and double up on veggies at any opportunity — more fruit at snack time works too! You can also add an extra ounce or two of protein at all meals if you find yourself feeling hungry. The combo of fiber from produce and lean protein makes this an adaptable strategy that’ll help you lose weight safely — one meal (and snack) at a time!