10 Healthy Tips You Should Steal From Popular Diets

10 Healthy Tips You Should Steal From Popular Diets1. Eat fewer processed foods

We could definitely take a few tips from food writer Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before 6 P.M. diet book. In a successful effort to revitalize his health, Mark follows a strict vegan diet before 6 P.M. every day. This means no meat, no dairy, and no products that were processed in any way that involves animals. The result is eating a LOT less processed foods and way more of the good stuff (bring on the fruits, veggies, and whole grains!). Mark dropped some pounds, as well as his cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Try incorporating more meat-free meals into your menu, and scale back on the salty, sugary, processed foods you’re eating. Filling up on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans will help you meet both goals. GH’s Summer Garden Soup provides a tasteful meal of backyard veggies ripe off the vine.

2. Eat a variety of whole grains (not just wheat)

You’ve most likely heard of The South Beach Diet by now, but have you heard of the Gluten Solution spin-off of the original? This diet helps you figure out if you may be intolerant of gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that cause unpleasant symptoms in those who have trouble digesting gluten. If you’re one of these gluten-sensitive individuals, consuming wheat products like breads, pasta, crackers, and even beer can cause symptoms like bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. But what if you’re not gluten-intolerant? Is there a reason to pay any attention to all of this gluten-free talk? We think so.

A healthy gluten-free diet actually promotes consuming whole grains – and there are TONS of options! Brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa are just a few gluten-free whole grains that serve up nutrients including fiber, iron, and vitamins B and E. Gluten-sensitive or not, replacing refined grains with a variety of whole grains is an excellent way to get your carbs from nutrient-dense foods. Good Housekeeping suggests putting some gluten-free, whole grain deliciousness on the dinner table with our Hoisin-Glazed Salmon with Quinoa.

3. Steer clear of added sugars

Gwyneth Paltrow is one of Hollywood’s most health-conscious celebrities and now she has a book to back it up. In “It’s All Good”, Gwyneth shares certain recipes that meet the criteria for her numerous dietary restrictions – no dairy, no meat, no wheat, no sugar, etc. – as well as some that she makes exceptions for (even Gwennie is human!). Most recipes in her book aim to minimize, if not eliminate, the amount of sugar added. We could all afford to cut back on our sugar intake and once you do, you’ll notice those sugary cravings melt away in no time.

4. Eat more fruits and vegetables

The Atkins Diet often gains attention due to its controversial status as the infamous low-carb diet, but we’d like to look at another aspect of the plan that we consider sound health advice. Eat more fruits and vegetables – now that’s a mantra to live by. The Atkins Diet promotes eating at least 5 servings of high-fiber vegetables a day. Take this advice and run with it by making fiber-loaded veggies and fruits (artichokes, broccoli, avocado, pears, etc.) a staple in your daily diet. Start by trying GH’s simple, yet stunning Arugula and Olive Salad.

5. Enjoy healthy fats from nuts and oils

In the Wheat Belly Diet, Dr. William Davis proposes that wheat is the culprit for that stubborn belly fat that won’t disappear – no matter how many sit-ups you do. The book suggests completely eliminating all wheat from your diet. This aspect of the plan may or may not be necessary for you, but another suggestion given by Dr. Davis can definitely be applied to everyone. Enjoy healthy fats. We now know that not all fats are the enemy; foods such as walnuts, almonds, and olive oil contain healthy fats that have anti-inflammatory characteristics and are essential for maintaining good health. Get your fat fix—and extra flavor—by adding a little Lemon Oregano Dressing (made with olive oil) and nuts to your salad.

6. Eat more lean protein

The Paleo Diet suggests that we think back a few centuries and eat in a way that mimics what our caveman ancestors consumed. Since the Paleolithic Era was pre-agriculture, the diet prohibits many modern day foods such as cereal grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, and potatoes – but you don’t necessarily have to go the whole nine yards to benefit from the Paleo message. Dr. Loren Courdain and his team also suggest consuming more grass-produced meats, fish/seafood, and eggs; all of which are nutrient-dense sources of lean protein. As long as you’re not vegetarian, it’s a great idea to create meals around lean proteins—a strategy that is healthy and satisfying.

Vegetarians (and non-vegetarians) should incorporate beans and other legumes into their diet to consume a healthy variety of protein (not based on the Paleo Diet). Try Good Housekeeping’s twist on a classic: Three-Bean Salad with edamame for an extra punch of protein!

7. Snack strategically

Haylie Pomroy, author of The Fast Metabolism Diet, takes the focus away from calories and shines the limelight on the nutritional content of food and its ability to rev up your metabolism. Although the science behind the metabolism-boosting plan is slim, we found one great takeaway: Haylie suggests that you ditch the fat-free cookies and 100-calorie packs and instead snack on foods chock-full of fill-you-up nutrients. Introduce this snack strategy into your menu with a few of these tasty treats inspired by this philosophy: toasted almonds, pickled beets topped with crumbled goat cheese, or a hard-cooked egg.

8. Exercise every day

The Biggest Loser’s famous trainer, Bob Harper, shares his dietary routine in “Jumpstart to Skinny”. But our favorite take-away from the plan is his suggestion to exercise daily. Physical activity and diet form a dynamic duo that work to keep our hearts healthy and our bodies strong. Harper advises that you fit at least 15 minutes of “jumpstart moves” into your day at least five times a week. Try working up toward some of these functional movements that require zero equipment – jogging up the stairs, power walking, and jumping from side to side.

9. Allow yourself to get hungry

The Fast Diet introduces intermittent fasting as a possible way to maintain weight and optimize health. Michael Mosley suggests eating normally for 5 days a week and reducing caloric intake to a 1/4 the normal amount for 2 days. Although this interesting diet theory may not be for everyone (always consult a physician before partaking in any diet), it does raise awareness to an idea people often forget: it’s okay to allow yourself to get hungry. So many social and environmental factors weigh in on when and why we eat, making it easy to ignore actual hunger cues. Start listening to your body and only eat when you actually need food for fuel. That fiber- and protein-rich veggie burger and baked sweet potato might keep you feeling full past 3 P.M., so don’t feel obligated to eat just because it’s “snack’oclock”.

10. Get out of your eating comfort zone

Health enthusiast Kimberly Snyder presents 50 nutrient-packed foods that she claims will improve not only your health, but your looks, too! We have our own, expert-guided theories about that, which you can find in our The New York Times–best-seller, 7 Years Younger, but we do appreciate one thing about Kimberly’s book: It takes you off the beaten food path by introducing some not-so-familiar nutrient powerhouses that will add a little excitement to your diet. Cabbage, watercress, oat groats, and beets are just a few of the tasteful chows that you shouldn’t go another day without! GH loves pairing the peppery taste of watercress with sweet peaches for this perfect summer side salad.

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