Don’t stress about the sprinkle of salt you put on your baked potato or on a bowl of air-popped popcorn. Just try to avoid the mountain of salt hidden in processed and restaurant food:
Excuse: “Vegetables Taste So ‘Blah’ When I Make Them”
Solution: The major mistakes people make when preparing vegetables are overcooking and underseasoning. Whether you steam, sauté, or grill, cut back a little on your usual cooking time (veggies should still have some crispness when you remove them from the heat). Then toss them in what chefs call a finishing sauce and season. For a quick sauce, try this vinaigrette: Whisk equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a half teaspoon each of minced garlic and mustard. Top with a sprinkle of toasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, or fresh herbs such as cilantro, basil, or chives.
Excuse: “I Have No Time To Cook”
Solution: Pick up a healthy main course (think rotisserie chicken or grilled salmon) and add quick sides such as five-minute whole-wheat couscous and frozen vegetables at home. Steer clear of ready-made casseroles, pasta dishes, and mayo-based salads, which tend to pack in hidden calories. Want a lighter meal? Try a whole-grain roll and a broth-based soup from the deli counter (it’s lower in sodium than canned soup because it doesn’t need salt as a preservative), then toss in extra veggies or canned beans at home. On days dieters eat out, they consume 226 more calories and 10 extra grams of fat, according to a 2011 study published in Obesity.
Excuse: “I Keep Candy And Chips Around For My Kids And Can’t Help Eating Them”
Solution: Your kids should be eating the same healthy foods you are, and it’s less tempting for everyone if you don’t make junk food readily available. Incorporate slow, subtle changes such as choosing graham crackers over cookies, baked chips over regular, or chocolate milk over soda, or occasionally go out for real treats together such as a shared piece of cake at a restaurant or a bag of M&M’s at the movies. Portion-controlled goodies like 100-calorie packs of cookies or fun-size candy bars may work too—but only if you can stop at one.
Excuse: “I Love Salty Foods”