Hopefully our focus on National Nutrition Month has been helpful to you and your family. It’s important to remember that small adjustments in your family’s diet can yield better health. Commit and re-commit yourself everyday to work towards a better diet. Ask yourself at every meal, how can I get my plate in better shape?
Don’t get overly focused or become obsessed with trying to eat perfectly. Rather, focus on how you and your family are eating the majority of the time, and how you can make improvements.
Here are 7 takeaways that we hope will help you continue to improve your own and your family’s diet.
1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
- Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables plus beans and peas.
- Fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables all count.
- Choose reduced sodium or no-salt-added canned vegetables.
- Add fruit to meals and snacks. Buy fruits that are dried, frozen, or canned in water or 100 percent juice, as well as fresh fruits.
2. Make at least half your grains whole
- Choose 100 percent whole-grain bread, cereal, crackers, pasta, and brown rice. Check the ingredient list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.
3. Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk
- Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories.
- If you’re lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
4. Vary your protein choices
- Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts, and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry, and eggs.
- Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.
- Keep meat and poultry portions small and lean.
5. Cut back on salt and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Select fruit for dessert. Eat sugary desserts less often. Choose 100 percent fruit juice instead of fruit flavored drinks.
- Look out for salt (sodium) in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers. Add spice or herbs to season food without adding salt.
- Make major sources of saturated fats such desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages, and hot dogs occasional choices, not everyday foods.
- Select lean cuts of meat or poultry and fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Switch from solid fats to oils when you prepare food.
6. Enjoy your food but eat less
- Get your personal daily calorie limit at http://www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. Keep that number in mind when you decide what to eat.
- Avoid oversized protions. Use a smaller plate, bowl, and glass.
- Cook more often at home, where you’re in control of what’s in your food. When you eat out, choose lower calorie menu options. Choose dishes that include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- To help you keep track of how much you eat, write down what you eat.
7. Be physically active every day
- Pick activities you like and start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. Every bit adds up, and health benefits increase as you spend more time being active.
- Children and teens should get 60 minutes of activity or more a day.
- Get two hours and 30 minutes or more a week of activity that requires moderate effort such as brisk walking.