Healthy foods to help you shed those post-holiday pounds

BY Nora Byrne

Holiday celebrations can leave you a few pounds heavier. But the New Year is the perfect time to get back on track. Here are some healthy foods that can help you battle the bulge. Better yet? They won’t leave you feeling a bit deprived.

1. Healthy fats

It may seem counterintuitive, but certain fats can help you manage your weight. The key is to choose healthy fats, which are found mainly in fish and plant-based foods. Think salmon, tuna, and mackerel; avocados; nuts and seeds; and vegetable oils, such as olive, canola and safflower oil. Healthy fats can help you feel full and satiated and keep your blood sugar steady. That can help you avoid overeating. Just remember, these fats can be high in calories, so it’s best to enjoy them in moderation.


2. Lean protein

Protein can help control your appetite and regulate your metabolism, so you feel full and satisfied. But that doesn’t mean you should eat steak at every meal. Red meat and highly processed meats, like bacon, sausage, and hot dogs, aren’t the best choices. Stick to lean protein that’s lower in fat and calories, like skinless chicken and turkey and lean cuts of pork and beef. Better yet, opt for fish, which supplies protein along with healthy fats. Vegetarian? No problem. Plant-based proteins, like beans, nuts and soy products, are great sources of protein. So are eggs and low-fat dairy products.


3. Whole grains

You may be wary of carbs, avoiding pasta, bread and desserts like the plague. Well, here’s some good news: not all carbs are created equal. Whole grains, like brown rice, oatmeal and products made with 100% whole wheat, are so much healthier than those more refined carbs. And whole grains can really help with weight management. They’re rich in fiber, which can help you feel full for longer periods of time.


4. Fruits and veggies

There’s a good reason fruits and veggies are staples of a healthy diet. They’re low in calories, but they’re packed with fiber. So you can stock up on kale, butternut squash, pomegranates and persimmons without worrying about your waistline. Just keep an eye on the preparation. Veggies deep fried or smothered in butter and cream? That won’t help you shed the pounds. But roasted or sautéed with a little olive oil? Or lightly steamed? That’s the ticket. When it comes to fruits, fresh is best—or frozen without added sugar. And if you’re making smoothies with fruits and veggies, try to avoid adding sugary juices to sweeten them up. Those calories can add up quickly.


5. Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria found in fermented foods and drinks, like yogurt, kimchi, kefir and kombucha. Enjoying these foods and drinks can help deliver good bacteria to your gut and help keep any bad bacteria in check. Having good bacteria in your gut is important to staying healthy. And it may also play a role in helping you manage your weight. When it comes to losing weight, don’t deprive yourself. That’s sure to backfire on you. The best long-term strategy for dropping those extra pounds is to eat a sensible, healthy and well-balanced diet. Make sure to include healthy fats, lean protein, whole grains and fruit and veggies. Add some foods with probiotics for better gut health. This type of diet isn’t trendy, but it’ll never go out of style.