It feels good to have a fresh start, and even if you're not a fan of New Year's resolutions, there are probably a few health and fitness goals you want to achieve in 2018. If weight loss is on your to-do list and you're looking for some inspiration on how to clean up your diet, we spoke to two experts who gave all the advice you'll ever need.
"Strive to make better overall food choices, including eating more plant-based and less processed foods, as well as eliminating foods that are difficult to digest, like dairy," suggested Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist and multitime New York Times bestselling author of the Beauty Detox book series and Radical Beauty. Her motto is, "Embrace progress, not perfection." Rather than eliminating many different foods from your diet, she recommends adding in foods that will help you feel your very best.
Dr. Luiza Petre, board-certified cardiologist and weight-loss specialist, also advises you "consume natural, whole foods," which "lower rates of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease."
These are the five kinds of foods you should aim to eat more of in the new year if you want to get a hold of your health.
"Adding anti-inflammatory food choices to your diet will get 2018 off to a great start for health and weight loss," Dr. Petre told POPSUGAR. "With real science to back up these claims, it's back to the basics of consuming whole, natural foods that are chemical-free." In order to avoid the starchy, processed goods that are available at every turn, Dr. Petre suggests you avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store entirely and instead peruse the outside aisles, which are usually full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and fish.
The top anti-inflammatory foods Dr. Petre approves of include salmon, broccoli, ginger, turmeric, garlic, dark chocolate, green tea, spinach, and walnuts.
Snyder says we should be getting around 30 grams of fiber every single day, but most Americans only consume about 10-12 grams. Why does that matter? "Fiber-rich foods are filling and make us feel satiated without having to obsess about calories or itty-bitty portion sizes," she explained. "It also helps push stomach-clogging materials out of the body. Fiber moves food through the gastrointestinal tract quickly for better digestion."
If you're not getting enough fiber in your diet, you might be dealing with bloating and digestive issues, both of which would make it very hard to lose weight and feel healthy. "Incorporate fiber into your diet by including foods like veggies, salads, soups, beans and legumes, oatmeal, gluten-free grains, raspberries, lentils, and artichokes into your meals," Snyder advised. "Eating a primarily plant-based diet will go a long way toward ensuring your fiber needs are met." She says her favorite go-to for extra fiber is her Glowing Green Smoothie, which she incorporates in her 30-Day Roadmap program.
"This crucial mineral eases constipation by relaxing the muscles in the intestinal walls," said Snyder. She recommends reaching for green leafy vegetables, like spinach, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Other foods high in magnesium include tofu, banana, avocado, and dark chocolate.
You already know that sugar isn't exactly high on the list of healthy foods. "Sugar has been called the white death for all the destruction it can cause to your health," Dr. Petre said. "It has been linked to leptin resistance, which is the hormone that tells you when you are full. Bad bacteria also consume sugar and compromise your immune system. It causes cell aging and a decline in tissue function and elasticity."
Check the labels on everything you're eating so that you don't inadvertently consume high amounts of sugar throughout the day. Stay away from snacks that are generally packed with sugar, like granola, trail mix, and flavored yogurts. Dr. Petre says you'll be good if you stick to additive-free, whole foods every chance you get.
"Potassium ensures that all cells, tissues, and organs are operating properly," Snyder said. "It can provide relief from bloating by balancing and circulating body fluids." Eating foods that are naturally high in potassium helps your kidneys flush out excess sodium and prevent bloating.
Kimberly recommends bananas, kiwis, oranges, and strawberries. You can also incorporate sweet potatoes, spinach, and apricots into your diet.