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Valarie, Nurse (RN)
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Experience:  36+ yrs exprience medical, surgical, wound/skin care, nutrition, geriatrics, rehab, management
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Can you give me some healthy foods to start putting in my diet I am 53 and 16

Resolved Question:

Can you give me some healthy foods to start putting in my diet? I am 5'3" and 160 pounds looking to lose weight. I am increasing my exercise to 30-60 minutes(biking and walking) a day and only drinking water and trying to eat healthier.
Right now I eat a lot of peanut butter, chicken, ranch and bbq sauce, cheese-american,colby, and pepperjack,salads, pizza(usually pepperoni), salami,hamburgers, and wheat bread(with salami and peanut butter sandwiches as well as garlic bread)

So far I have changed from iceburg lettuce to leafy greens, adding raw veggies on the salad-cucumbers,carrots, and green peppers. I am also trying to use less ranch dressing on the salad(I can not stand fat-free or light dressings-so I am just decreasing the amount of regular ranch)I also almost daily eat garlic bread and I am trying to limit that to once a week. I am trying to eat more fruits-grapes and green apples as a snack as opposed to chips or crackers.

Any food swaps or eliminations you suggest? Ho
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Valarie replied 5 years ago.

Hello. Thank you for coming to JustAnswer with your question, and welcome.


It looks like you are doing a good job of trying to get your diet more healthy.


As you proceed, if you are persistent in your efforts, your preference and taste for foods will change for the better.


Some suggestions:

---Good job with the leafy greens. Mix these up a bit. There are many good salad mixes you can get that are pre-mixed and chopped for you. Or, use baby spinach with a favorite green such as romaine lettuce. Much more nutritious than plain iceburg.


---For your salad dressing. You might try diluting some ranch dressing with some nonfat milk. This will stretch it a bit, without sacrificing flavor---less fat but more dressing to go on your salad. You might experiment with making your own salad dressings: in a lidded jar (that won't leak) put in 2 Tablespoons vinegar (your choice), 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of mustard (your choice, dijon is very good), 4 tablespoons olive oil, salt/pepper to taste and whatever dried herbs you like......shake until emulsified. You may need more olive oil. It is not lowfat, but it does contain *good* fat. You can make larger amounts by using 1 part acid (vinegar, lime or lemon juice) to 2 parts olive oil.


---For your garlic bread, you can do this more than once a week and make it nutritious. Use a whole grain bread, fresh garlic (use a grater) and olive oil instead of butter or margarine. You can add some other seasoning as well, like basil (fresh or dried), oregano, parsley, etc. Mix the herbs and garlic and brush it onto the bread, then toast it lightly under the broiler, or grill it. In time, this flavor will be your preference. Olive oil is heart healthy, but still don't go overboard with it. It is still fat, and still high in calories.


---A healthy diet should include the "good fats". So use olive or canola oil rather than others. Olive oil is best. Avocados can be used on sandwiches instead of mayo. Sprinkle some nuts/seeds onto your salad. You should eat at least 2 serving of coldwater fish a week for the fats they contain (sardines, salmon, tuna......fresh or canned). You need about 5 servings of fat daily (1 tsp of oil, 1/6 of an avocado, a serving of fish, a serving of nuts).


---Try to replace meats with saturated fat (like beef) with chicken, or fish as much as possible in your diet. So, instead of a hamburger try chicken, turkey, tuna patty, or a "vegie" burger made with soy.


---Pizza can be healthy also. The fat and refined flour is the problem. So go with a whole wheat crust (more pizza places are doing this now), 1/2 the cheese and all vegetables.


---Peanut butter is actually good for you, however try to find a brand with less saturated fats and salt added. You'll have to check labels and trial and error til you find one you like. The key with PNB is the serving size. Peanut butter counts as a fat (but has the added bonus of protein) and a serving size is 1.5 tablespoons.


---Cheeses are also good for you because of the high calcium content. They count as a milk serving. However, they are high in saturated fats. So, you need to limit the amount you eat daily, or change to a low fat or nonfat cheese.


---Replace lunch meats like salami with whole meats that are lower in saturated fats (chicken, turkey, fish).


---Great for snacks are fresh fruit, raw vegetables, nuts/seeds, yogurt (plain or lowfat with reduced calories from sugar), boiled eggs (easily portable). PNB on apples is great. Berries in season are very good, naturally low in calories and full of antioxidants (great with a good yogurt).


---BBQ sauce is OK in small doses. The problem with it is the salt, fat and sugar content. To get away from BBQ sauce you might experiment with making a meat rub out of your favorite herbs, some garlic, a small amount of salt, and olive oil. Add some pureed tomato (use fresh or even canned in the blender), and some chopped onion to this mix and use it as a marinade.


---Instead of sauces or mayo that are higher in fat for sandwiches or burgers, use more vegetables. Burgers are very good with a variety of different raw vegetables.


---Eat smaller amounts of meat and more vegetables for dinner by making a stir fry type of dish. Again, watch the amount of fat and salt you use.


I could go on and on.......but this is a start.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you. This is very helpful. Can you give me an approximate calorie intake that I should strive for? And ultimately what weight should I strive for. Right now I'm 5'3" 21 years old, female and 160 pounds with 30-32% body fat.
Expert:  Valarie replied 5 years ago.

Here is a tool you can use periodically that will tell you:

Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid tool


You just put in your information, your activity level, and check the box that you want to lose weight. It will give you the calories you should eat along with a food pyramid so that you how much of what to eat daily. There is also a 4 page list of foods in each group on the pyramid that you can print out (or just save to your computer).

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