In addition to getting enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, focus on protein in the morning, says Dr. Rekha B. Kumar, an attending endocrinologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. Packing your breakfast with protein will keep blood sugar and some “hunger hormones” more stable throughout the day, helping to control your appetite. Egg-white omelets, Greek yogurt, and protein shakes are examples. Dr. Kumar also advises to avoid eating too much sugar, especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Consuming excess sugar leads to a condition called insulin resistance, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, a fatty liver, and cardiovascular disease. It has also been associated with cirrhosis, neuropathy, kidney disease, general inflammation, and cancer.
A diet with less red meat will confer a host of benefits if you replace the calories with whole plant foods, says Dr. Shilpa Ravella, a gastroenterologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Your blood cholesterol levels will drop, and you’ll dramatically decrease your risk of chronic diseases, including top killers like heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. One easy-to-follow diet that avoids red meat is the Mediterranean diet. It’s one of the best things you can do for your heart, says Dr. Gary Gabelman, a cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. The diet is high in fruit, vegetables, legumes, fish, and nuts, and rich in antioxidants, which have been shown to be beneficial for heart health and overall health.
A good way to make sure you don’t end up reaching for chips or a chocolate bar when you need a snack is to eat before you feel famished, says Alexandra Rosenstock, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian at the Center for Advanced Digestive Care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. If somebody’s waiting too long to eat, sometimes they can go for things they weren’t planning on having just because they’re very hungry or their blood sugar is low. Instead, her advice is to grab something healthy that you have already prepared. Take the time to think about having it in the fridge or accessible at work.