It is generally known that good nutrition is essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. New diets, calorie counting smart-phone apps, and weight loss programs are everywhere but it’s the unseen benefits of proper nutrition, not necessarily the shedding of pounds that can have the biggest impact.
It is no secret that American women today face struggles with obesity, infertility, lack of energy, heart disease, and cancer, to name just a few. An intentional change in what, how and when one consumes food can not only help shift the scale but it can play a key role in effectively preventing and managing various diseases and health issues. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages Americans to return to the basics of healthy eating by consuming recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains, lean proteins and dairy each day.
“MyPlate” (choosemyplate.com) is the new food pyramid. Consisting of a plate divided into four sections, fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, and a glass representing dairy products, the “MyPlate” symbol serves to promote healthy eating habits by identifying recommended amounts for consumption in each of these food groups. “MyPlate” helps take the guess work out of proper, balanced nutrition.
Start to balance your plate with these recommendations:
Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables:
- Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, orange and red varieties, beans and peas.
- Include at least one fruit, one vegetable or both in every meal and all snacks.
- Fresh is best, but dried or frozen fruits and those canned in water or their own juice are good options when fresh unavailable.
- Reduced sodium canned vegetables are the preferred choice; rinsing canned vegetables also can help to reduce sodium.
Use whole grains:
- Choose brown rice, barley or oats.
- Use 100% whole-grain breads, cereals and crackers.
Use fat-free or low-fat dairy products:
- With less fat and fewer calories, they have the same amount of calcium and other nutrients as whole milk.
- Calcium-fortified soy beverages or lactose-free milk are available for those who are lactose intolerant.
Vary lean protein choices:
- Eat a variety of proteins: lean meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, tofu, soy, edamame and nuts.
- Eat fish and seafood at least twice each week.
- Limit your meat and poultry portions to three ounces per meal.
- Check the list of ingredients on all food packages so you can make wise choices.
- Use heart-healthy oils like olive, sunflower or canola in place of butter when cooking.
- Season foods with spices or herbs instead of salt.
- Drink water or 100% fruit juice; avoid sugary drinks like sodas, fruit-flavored drinks, sweetened teas and coffees.
Eating right, feeling good and keeping as healthy as possible are rooted in proper nutrition, not depriving yourself of foods that you love or staying unrealistically thin. Couple the above recommendations with 30 minutes of walking or swimming each day to feel great and discover more energy. Your insides will reap the benefits and you might even find some extra room in your clothes!