Food & Wine's Well-Being editor Kristin Donnelly reveals a few common ways to sabotage a healthy lifestyle.
(Pictured: Delicious and low-calorie Eggs Baked Over Sautéed Mushrooms and Spinach, © Johnny Valiant)
1. Go Beige. A wardrobe of neutrals? Fine. But a diet full of them? Not so much. The color in fruits and vegetables is often linked to different micronutrients, all of which have disease-fighting health benefits. Orange foods, for instance, have alpha carotene, which protects against cancer, and the more well-known beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Not to mention that fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber (which helps you feel full) and are often low in calories.
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2. Eat bland, cardboard-like food. Too often, "diet" is associated with food that tastes bad. If you eat unappetizing food, you'll feel deprived and end up eating too much. Skip anything "lite" that comes in a bag or a box. Instead, treat fresh vegetables as you would a gorgeous cut of meat: Season well and cook only as much as needed. Serve vegetables, with sauce, as your centerpiece, and that beautiful cut of meat as the side dish.
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3. Fear fat. Eating fat doesn't necessarily make you fat. Unless medically recommended, the low-fat diet largely went out with the 1990s. That's not to say that eating a diet of sausage, grilled cheese and doughnuts will help you lose weight (Plus, they're all beige. See Step 1.) But fat-whether it's olive oil or even butter or lard-is necessary for absorbing nutrients, and it supports the immune system. It's also sustaining: Yes, a gram of fat has twice the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates, but fat helps you feel fuller longer, so you eat less. So pass the (teaspoon of) butter, please.
4. Inhale your food. Warning: Eating too much too fast can result in a protruding belly (also referred to as a "food baby" in the movie Juno). In many parts of the world, dining is a leisurely event, which actually has health benefits: When people eat slowly, they tend to savor food more and eat less. Plus, there's that old health-magazine nugget: Your stomach takes 20 minutes to tell your brain it's full.
5. Drink to get drunk. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) now officially recognizes that people who drink moderately (one drink per day for women, and yes, boo, two for men) are often healthier and live longer. Binge drinking, however, is not only unhealthy, it's fattening. At around 200 calories each, multiple gin and tonics add up, so does wine. And then there's the aftermath: Pizza with a side of fries starts sounding like a brilliant idea.