Every day, you're faced with a variety of dilemmas that could make or break your diet. Whether you're standing in the grocery aisle, scratching your head over a nutrition label, or are pondering two choices on a restaurant menu, it can be difficult to discern what the best choice is. Knowledge is power, and by making yourself aware of which options are more nutritious, you can take the guesswork out of healthy eating.
So don't panic next time you're faced with a diet-related decision. Instead, keep these tips in mind:
What's worse: Sugar or artificial sweeteners?
There has been a lot of debate in recent years about whether or not artificial alternatives like Splenda, Truvia and Equal are better for you than actual sugar. As for artificial sweeteners, research still isn't conclusive about whether they can cause cancer or other serious health issues. However, Fitness magazine noted that according to a study by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 55 percent of people who drank one or two diet sodas a day were overweight after seven to eight years, compared to 33 percent of those who drank regular soft drinks. Experts say this could be because artificial sugars can actually exacerbate your cravings for sweets.
So it might be best to stick to the real thing and limit your portions - after all, 1 teaspoon only has 16 calories. If you still want to up the sweetness, you can always enhance the flavor of your coffee or baked goods with other tasty additions like vanilla extract, cinnamon or nutmeg.
Should I have a snack before bed or go to sleep hungry?
There's a difference between feeling snack-y around midnight and feeling actual hunger. However, if your tummy is growling, it's best to eat something small. In fact, you'll probably find it pretty difficult to fall asleep if your hunger is distracting you, and you're bound to wake up even more famished, causing you to overdo it at breakfast.
Contrary to popular belief, you won't pack on pounds overnight just by eating late, as timing doesn't really factor into your body's ability to burn calories. Just be wary of mindless nibbling in front of the TV, which can get out of control. Make a pre-portioned satiating snack like a string cheese and a serving of whole grain crackers, or a nonfat vanilla yogurt with a sliced banana, to keep those rumblings at bay.
Is it better to skip breakfast or have something unhealthy at the office?
When you have to jet out the door before whipping up a nutritious breakfast, it can be tempting to grab a donut or a muffin from the kitchen when you get to work. Ultimately, it's better to eat half of something unhealthy than let yourself starve, which could wreak havoc on your metabolism and also make you more likely to overindulge later on.
Or better yet, avoid this situation altogether by keeping options like granola bars and packets of microwaveable oatmeal in your desk drawer. It only takes seconds to whip up a packet of david kirsch's protein plus meal replacement powder in delicious mocha or vanilla, and the mixture is bound to keep you full through all those morning meetings.