By Carol Witte, RDN Director of Nutrition Services & Centers
We need motivation and dedication to have a healthy lifestyle. This includes making healthy food choices at the grocery store, preparing healthy foods, making good food choices when eating out, exercising, good dental health, getting adequate sleep at night and staying positive. Here are a few tips to put you on the road to a healthy lifestyle.
Starting your day with food is very important. Good choices include lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy. Cereal is an option but there are many other choices. Try low fat regular or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts or whole grain cereal to give it a little crunch. Try making whole grain
waffles or pancakes one evening and warm them up in the morning in a toaster or
microwave and top with fresh fruit and
yogurt. Add vegetables like colorful peppers, onions, spinach or kale to eggs or an egg white product. It is very easy to cook eggs in a microwave—line your cup or bowl with no stick cooking spray, scramble eggs, add some vegetables and cheese then cook for a couple minutes. If you prefer cereal, choose the whole grain types. Oatmeal is always a good high fiber choice.
Make Half Your Plate Fruits & Veggies
Eating with color is so important! I know you have heard this many times but it is still top on my list. Fruits and vegetables provide you with color as well as the vitamins, minerals and fiber that classify them as very healthy eating. Try to get between 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day. Canned fruits and vegetables can be a good choice for quick meal preparation. Rinse canned vegetables to remove 40% of the sodium and try to find canned fruits in water or juice to avoid extra sugar.
Watch Your Portion Size
Try measuring your portions to determine how much you are eating or use smaller plates or bowls to help you control the amounts. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with lean meat and whole grains. Watch quantity when using fat and oils to prepare food items. Even healthy fats are higher in calories. It is all about balancing portion size with your needs.
Daily exercise helps to lower blood pressure and helps your body control stress as well as weight. Try looking for other options to increase your activity—park a little farther from the door, take the stairs if you can, take a walk after dinner, exercise or move during commercials when watching TV.
Choose healthy snacks like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, lean meats or nuts. Cut up vegetables ahead of time. Portion control whole grain items, cheese or meats by placing them in smaller snack size portions when you come home from the store.
Read Food Labels
You are paying for that label so read it! Look at the portion size and then compare products to evaluate fat, carbohydrates and sodium.
Drink More Water or low sugar beverages. Let thirst be your guide!
Explore New Foods
As the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life.” When cooking, limit the sodium and experiment with herbs and no salt added spices. Try healthy meals at one of our Activity and Dining Centers and when shopping for other meals at home, look for new fruits and vegetables that you have never tried before.
To celebrate National Nutrition Month, evaluate your lifestyle and habits and make a few lifelong healthy changes.