Most people know that the key to managing a healthy weight is by maintaining a nutritional diet. But good nutrition goes beyond keeping off the weight. The right balance of nutritional foods assures that your body gets the needed nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to efficiently perform. The kind and amount of food you eat is important and choosing those that are nutrient-dense and low in calories will keep you energized and feeling full longer. Here are ten suggestions to help you form new habits that can lead to better nutrition and healthy eating.
1. Eat Breakfast. Start your day with a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Eggs are considered one of nature's most complete foods. They're filled with protein while free of carbs and sugar. Eat whole wheat or multigrain breads instead of white. Mixing a smoothie with almond milk, Greek yogurt and fruit is both quick and will keep you full until lunch. Oatmeal is a great multigrain that is hardy and can help reduce cholesterol.
2. Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables. Fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber to your plate. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal. Experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen and canned.
3. Watch Portion Sizes. Over the years, dinner plates have gotten bigger and our perceived portion size has increased to unhealthy levels. Restaurants usually serve one person enough food for two or three. Wholegrain bagels and bran muffins are healthy eating choices, but most are two or three times too big for a single serving. Serving the right portion size and learning to eyeball a healthy amount of food will assure you are not overeating. When at home, serve dinner on a salad plate, and if at a restaurant, box up half your meal before you even start eating. Here are some examples of the correct portions:
a. 1 medium potato = 1 computer mouse
b. 1 portion of pasta is 1/2 cup = 1/2 a baseball
c. 1 portion of cheese = four dice
d. 1 portion of meat or fish = a deck of cards or the palm of your hand
4. Drink More Water. Staying hydrated improves energy levels and brain function, helps prevent headaches and digestion problems. Drinking water will also fill you up, which can help you lose unwanted weight. It might help to carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day. Choose water over a sugary drink when eating out. This will save money and reduce calories. Drink a glass of water with every meal and if you want to add a little flavor, include a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste and help you drink more water than you usually do.
5. Fix Healthy Snacks. Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals, especially when they include a combination of foods. Choose from two or more of the MyPlate food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein. Try raw veggies with low-fat cottage cheese or hummus, or a tablespoon of nut or seed butter with an apple or banana.
6. Enact Family Meal Time. Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Set a regular mealtime. Turn off the TV, phones and other electronic devices to encourage mealtime talk. Get kids involved in meal planning and cooking and use this time to teach them about good nutrition.
7. Slow Down. When eating too quickly, it’s hard for your brain to recognize it’s full and you tend to overeat. Slowing down can increase fullness and promote weight loss. Instead of eating on the run, try sitting down and focusing on the food you’re about to eat. Dedicating time to enjoy the taste and textures of foods can have a positive effect on your food intake.
8. Reduce Added Sugars. Foods and drinks with added sugars contribute to empty calories and little or no nutrition. It is recommended to keep added sugars to less than 10% of the total daily calories. For example, in a 2,000-calorie diet, no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars, that’s about 12 teaspoons.
9. Get Cooking. When people cook most of their meals at home, they consume fewer carbohydrates and use less sugar, salt and fat than those who eat out or eat premade meals. Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective.
10. Explore New Foods and Flavors. Add more nutrition and eating pleasure by expanding your range of food choices. When shopping, make a point of selecting a fruit, vegetable or whole grain that’s new to you or your family. Lookup new, healthy recipes from other countries every month.
Good nutrition is the key to good mental and physical health. Adapting just a few of these suggestions into your daily nutritional plan will start you in the right direction to living healthier.