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We are What we Eat!

Tips for eating healthy

Article by Dr. Shohreh Sharif, D.D.S., FAAPD, FICD

Originally published in Leesburg Lifestyle

We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat”. But do I need to be a carrot all the time? Or if I have some Cheetos, in moderation, does that make me a Cheeto?

So, no, it’s not as simple as that little saying.

Having a healthy diet is not all about placing strict limitations or depriving yourself of the foods that you love, it is more about feeling great, improving overall health, increasing energy throughout the day, and being in a better mood!

Healthy eating shouldn’t be overly complicated. Sometimes when we’re researching it can feel like there’s conflicting nutritional and dieting advice. This can all be simplified with an easy-to-follow motto – replace processed foods with whole foods in their natural state, or as close to their natural state as possible.  

Food is not just a source of nutrition – it is an integral part of our culture and society. Holidays are not complete without enjoying some of Grandma’s famous treats or your favorite aunts baked mac-n-cheese! However, the key is in keeping our indulgences to special occasions, moderation.

It is important that we do our best to maintain a healthy diet that includes all nutrients in the proper amounts...based on variety, balance, and moderation. Fruits and vegetables should be a part of your diet, in addition to healthy fats and proteins. Cooking at home allows for control over the oils used to sauté your food and the amount of added sugar in your favorite dressings.

Visiting local farmers markets or your favorite grocery store and picking fresh, seasonal ingredients is a great starting point. Planning breakfast, lunch, and dinner sets you up for success and prevents having to get takeout during the workday or compromise with fast-food. Below are some ideas of the delicious healthy options I make for my family.

Breakfast: banana baked oatmeal, eggs (hardboiled or scrambled) with turkey bacon or sausage, avocado toast, fruits and granola, or a pecan energy bar

Lunch: a turkey/chicken wrap, nutritious protein bowls with grains and plenty of vegetables, tuna sandwich, chicken salad (made with Greek yogurt), stir-fry

Dinner: salmon (with whatever seasoning/glaze you like) accompanied with asparagus, a hearty salad, chicken (baked or grilled) with your favorite starch and vegetable, stuffed bell peppers (turkey instead of ground beef is a healthy substitute), zucchini noodles/spaghetti squash with Bolognese (or your favorite sauce)

Snack: Greek yogurt (drizzle of honey), assorted nuts, trail mix, berries, frozen yogurt popsicles, vegetables, and dressing (vinaigrette)

When it comes to your teeth – should you really indulge your nightly chocolate ice cream or sour gummy craving? Limiting the amount of processed sugar, you consume will help decrease plaque buildup and keep your enamel strong. Instead, focus on consuming foods high in fiber and calcium and lots of leafy greens. Remember: food that is healthy for your body is likely healthy for your teeth. A quick tip is to brush after enjoying a snack to help lessen the negative effect it has on your teeth.

Eating and living a healthy lifestyle should be fun. It doesn’t mean restricting yourself from everything, but it does require a little bit of discipline. You can indulge in your favorite snacks in moderation. Create a plan, follow it, and just watch how much better you’re going to feel and look!

Dr. Shohreh Sharif has been practicing dentistry for 25

years. She is: Associate Professor, Howard University

College of Dentistry Diplomate, American Board of

Pediatric Dentistry Diplomate, American Orthodontic

Society IAD Top Pediatric Dentist among Leading

Physicians of the World Fellow, American Academy of

Pediatric Dentistry

  • Dr. Shohreh Sharif, D.D.S., FAAPD, FICD

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