Healthy eating can help you feel your best and improve your overall health. Controlling your portion sizes, consuming the right amounts of certain nutrients and limiting foods that are nutrient poor are all strategies that can assist you in creating your ideal diet and achieving your health and wellness goals. Eating healthy may seem overwhelming at first, but once you begin to adopt these basic strategies it will become second nature.
Choose Whole Grains
Whole grains are full of fiber and B vitamins, which makes them a smart choice. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends making at least half of your grains whole grains. Healthy choices include oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta and brown rice. Refined grains, which have had the bran and germ removed, are missing many of the nutrients whole grains are rich in. Choose whole-grain versions of products over refined varieties whenever possible.
Eat Fresh Produce
Fruits and vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eating produce can reduce your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat, making them a smart meal or snack choice. Aim for 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups vegetables per day. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.
Watch Portion Sizes
Portion sizes at restaurants have gotten larger and larger. It is your job to understand what an appropriate portion size is to avoid overeating. When eating out, split an entree with a friend or have the waiter bag up half of your meal to go. This will make it less tempting to eat your entire oversized meal. At home, stick to serving correct portions of food on individual plates instead of bringing serving dishes to the table. When choosing a snack, portion out one serving size that you plan to eat in a bowl instead of eating from the package, which makes overeating easy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of Americans eat more sodium than recommended. Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, stroke and other vascular diseases. High-sodium foods to limit include lunch meat, soups, canned foods, chips and restaurant meals. Skip adding salt to food during cooking. Choose lower sodium foods such as fresh produce, dry beans, low-sodium breads and low-sodium meats. Add sodium-free spices such as garlic, onion or lemon juice to foods to add flavor.
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Tips for Eating Healthy when Eating Out
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How to Avoid Portion Size Pitfalls to Manage Your Weight
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Where's the Sodium? There's too Much in Many Common Foods
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fruits and Vegetables
Amanda Hernandez is a registered dietitian who holds a Master of Arts degree in family and consumer sciences with an emphasis in dietetics from Western Michigan University. Her work has been featured in "Women's World" and "Women's Day" magazines. She writes for nutritionistreviews.com and has been a nutrition writer since 2010.