How to find and fix your dietary downfalls

All of us have dietary strengths and weaknesses, just as we have strengths and weaknesses in other areas of our lives. No one is perfect — and that's fine! But if you're like most people, there are a few things you're doing out of habit that are sabotaging your efforts to control your blood sugar and lose weight. If you change just one or two of them by setting your mind to it, you'll reap rewards in spades. First, though, you have to recognize them.

How to find and fix your dietary downfalls

Do you like a big bowl of cereal in the morning?

Your first course of action is to make sure you're eating a low-GL cereal, or at least a medium-glycemic-load (GL).

  • If you're not used to them, mix with a bit of your usual cereal at first to make the transition easier.
  • Pour less into the bowl and add fresh fruit, like chopped apples, strawberries or blueberries.
  • Add 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of chopped nuts to add protein and "good" fat, both of which help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you feeling full.

Avoiding unhealthy breakfast choices at work

If you don't eat breakfast until you get to work, and then there's nothing but unhealthy choices, try packing your breakfast in an insulated lunch bag the night before so you can grab it on the way out of the house.

  • Bring a piece of fruit, a plastic bag with a small handful of nuts and 250 grams (eight ounces) of low-fat yogurt.
  • Or, grab a healthy bran muffin along with an orange.

Healthier pizza options

The thicker the crust — especially Sicilian — the higher the GL of the meal.

  • If you add pepperoni, you really sabotage yourself with extra calories and saturated fat, which contributes to insulin resistance.
  • So think healthier pizza: thin crust with veggies on top. Go for whole wheat crust if it's available. Stick with one or two slices.
  • Add a salad with vinaigrette dressing so you get enough food to feel full.

Avoid unhealthy additions on your salad

When you get salad from the salad bar, do you usually load it with cheese, croutons and creamy dressing?

  • You might as well eat a hamburger with a side of lettuce. Don't abandon salads, just look for ways to keep them interesting and healthy.
  • Add toasted sunflower seeds for crunch (and healthy fat) or a few black olives for richness (and again, "good" fat).
  • Add hot peppers, if you like them, for kick.
  • Throw on some chickpeas for additional texture.
  • Top it all off with a vinegar-based dressing.

The right way to snack

Snacking isn't bad at all.

  • Keep healthy snacks on hand (think carrot sticks, apples, low-fat yogurt, a few whole-grain crackers and peanut butter or a handful of peanuts or almonds) to keep the sailing smooth between lunch and dinner.

Try beans for a healthy and filing dish

Canned beans can be no-fuss additions to something you're already making.

  • Rinse canned chickpeas and toss them on a salad.
  • Add canned kidney beans to nearly any vegetable soup.
  • For a quick bean side dish, drain a can of white beans, put them into a microwavable bowl and add some olive oil, grated Parmesan and fresh pepper. Microwave for a minute or two, then mash for a delicious, high-protein, low-GL dish.

Keep these common problems in mind and try these proven solutions to stay on the course to healthy eating.

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