Eating Healthy: the Basics

1. What is a healthy breakfast?
2. What is a healthy lunch?
3. What is a healthy dinner?
4. How much should I weigh?
5. How many calories should I be eating?
6. What is the best way to lose weight?
7. How can I keep my weight loss goal in mind and stay motivated?
8. What is a healthy weekly weight loss?
9. How to set weight loss goals and make them happen
10. How to keep a food diary, and why it is essential to successful weight loss
11. Are all fats bad for you?
12. Are saturated fats bad for you?
13. Are unsaturated fats good for you?
14. Are carbohydrates bad for you?
15. Is fiber good for you?
16. How to read nutrition/food labels
17. How to plan your weekly menus
18. Why should I eat less salt?
19. What do the sodium (salt) numbers mean on food labels?
20. What is The Mediterranean Diet?
21. Why eating vegetables is good for you
22. Why eating fruit and nuts is good for you
23. Why are cereals and whole grains good for you?
24. What are legumes, and why are they good for you?
25. Why is eating fish good for you?
26. Which fats and oils are good for you?
27. Are dairy products good for you?
28. Which meats should I not eat?
29. Is drinking alcohol good for you?
30. Is it important to measure your ingredients?
31. Are snacks good for you?
32. How to choose the right portion size
33. Can you lose weight with a smaller plate?
34. Eat healthier by cleaning out your pantry
35. Which oils and fats should I keep in my pantry?
35. Which oils and fats are good for you - and when should I use them?
36. Which carbohydrates are good for you?
37. What is the best chicken or turkey for you?
38. Are dairy products good for you?
39. Which nuts and seeds should I eat?
40. Is red meat like beef or pork bad or good for you?
41. Is eating dessert good or bad for you?
42. Is drinking soda bad for you?
43. Is drinking coffee bad for you?
44. How can healthy food taste good? Part 1
45. How can healthy food taste good? Part 2
46. How to eat healthy while eating out
47. Are vitamins and supplements necessary to eat healthy?
48. How to eat healthy while traveling


Eating Healthy: the Basics

Which carbohydrates are good for you?

a loaf of whole wheat bread with three slices cut from it

Carbohydrates are not your enemy. After years of research we do know what we have known for a long time - poor quality calories are bad for you. It doesn't really matter whether the focus is on carbs or fat or protein, if the quality of the food is great, the food is likely great for you.

So what are the best quality carbs for your pantry?

Bread is a great place to start because so many people fear it. Don't. Breads are a great part of a healthy diet. The key is to choose whole grain breads and look for the highest fiber. A slice of white bread has little nutritive value, with sometimes less than 1 gram of fiber. Look for breads with at least 2 grams of fiber or more per slice.

The other carb that people love to hate is pasta. The issue is not that pasta makes people gain weight, but that too much of a good thing is just that: too much. A serving of any pasta is 2 ounces (not half the box), and choosing whole wheat pasta is the way to better quality carb calories. As with the bread, the difference in fiber is almost double. There's less than 2 grams of fiber in 2 ounces of pasta but almost 5 grams of fiber in whole wheat pasta.

The same holds true for rice. I occasionally use white rice in some dishes, like risottos, but I love brown rice. You'll find that there are a lot of kinds of brown rice in the market now. You can easily find brown long grain, short grain, basmati and jasmine rice. Almost any of your recipes that call for white rice work well with brown rice.

Choosing a breakfast cereal is a bit like choosing who to marry. For most of us it has to be just right. The key is to look for cereals that are higher in fiber and lower in sugar. It really is just that simple. Sugared cereals like Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms are easy to figure out how bad they are for you. Your best strategy will be to look carefully at the package, try different cereals and keep the best quality in your pantry.

Choices like oatmeal or Cheerios are low in sugar and high in fiber. If you have a sweet tooth, you're better off sprinkling a teaspoon of sugar on your cereal since that's only 4 grams of carbs (about 16 calories). Compare that to some raisin brans that have both added sugar and high fructose corn syrup at 19 grams of carbohydrate per serving.

Start by looking at the amount of fiber and, as always, the higher the better. Just the opposite with sugar - choose the lowest. Don't stop there. Look at the ingredient list. If there's sugar, high fructose corn syrup or honey anywhere in the ingredient list, it's best to think twice. Certainly if any sugar ingredient is listed in the first three it's best to leave it on the shelf.

The big one that folks want to avoid is potatoes. This is a real shame. Fresh potatoes are a great example of quality calories. As with pasta, the problem is not that potatoes make you gain weight or that they are bad for you, but that people just plain eat too much (and mostly in the form of greasy french fries or potato chips).

A serving of potatoes is no more than about 6 ounces, but some Idaho baking potatoes can weigh almost three times as much. Even so, have yams or sweet potatoes instead. There are fewer calories and about 2/3 more fiber.

As with many considerations for eating healthy, choosing the best ingredients - the best quality calories - is the way to success. You don't have to cut out carbs, just watch the portion size and select the best quality.

Here's how to make quick changes for you:

Not the best Better choices Serving Size
white bread whole wheat bread 1 slice
English muffin whole wheat English muffin 1 muffin
regular pasta whole wheat pasta 2 ounces
potatoes yams 4 ounces
white rice brown rice 1/4 cup (uncooked)
white rice wild rice 1/4 cup (uncooked)
grits oatmeal 1/3 cup (uncooked)
sugared cereal
(like Fruit Loops)
100% Bran
Shredded Wheat & Bran
Total Whole Grain
Total Raisin Bran
Kashi GoLean
Kashi Cinnamon Harvest
Kellogg's Special K
Kellogg's All Bran
1 cup
Fruit juice Fresh fruit  


Carbs to REALLY avoid Great snack choices
candy bar fresh fruit
cookies fresh fruit
cake fresh fruit
potato chips popcorn
crackers nuts
soda iced tea
soda coffee
soda water