|Final tips for year-round health|
|Thursday, 29 March 2012 13:59|
As we strive for wellness through healthier eating habits, the National Weekly celebrates National Nutrition Month in March with a series highlighting the benefits of healthy eating. And as National Nutrition Month draws to a close, TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, offers these final tips about assembling healthy meals year-round.
MyPlate, a plan introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), reminds consumers that it is important to divide their plate with fruits and vegetables, lean protein and grains. Here are some tips for balanced meals from ChooseMyPlate.gov:
• Vegetables: Vegetables provide vitamins and minerals. There are many options to make sure you get enough servings each day – fresh or frozen vegetables, vegetable soup, and canned vegetables labeled "low sodium" or "no salt added," like tomatoes, garbanzo beans, or mushrooms. When dining out, consider swapping French fries with vegetables or salad.
• Fruits: Fruits offer essential nutrients, including potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and folic acid. To incorporate more fruits into your diet, keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter, purchase dried or frozen fruits, top your cereal with bananas, peaches, or strawberries, or toss some with a salad.
• Whole grain: Choose whole grains rather than refined grains, such as barley, quinoa, pilaf, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and bulgur. When choosing products, select options that include "whole grain" listed first on the ingredient list. Don't let foods labeled "multi-grain" or "100% wheat" fool you. Many of these products don't contain any whole grain.
• Fat-free or low-fat dairy: Pair nutritious meals with skim or one percent milk, which offers calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Include more low-fat dairy by substituting ingredients, such as plain yogurt instead of sour cream, fat-free milk instead of cream, and ricotta cheese instead of cream cheese. Be careful with sweet dairy options like flavored milks, frozen yogurt and pudding, because they contain added sugar.
• Protein: Choose proteins like lean beef and pork, chicken, turkey, nuts, eggs, beans, peas and soy products. Prepare a seafood meal twice a week. Limit intake of sodium and processed foods, including hot dogs, ham, and sausages.
• Be seasonal: Produce can be expensive, so buy items that are in season or on sale to save money and get the best flavor.
• Stick to the list: Plan your meals in advance and make a list of groceries. Also, do not shop on an empty stomach, so you can avoid being tempted to purchase extra foods.
• Buy larger amounts of staple items: Divide the food into smaller portions and freeze the ingredients that aren't being used.
• Plant your own: Start an outdoor or kitchen garden to save money. Try planting herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.
• Prepare meals ahead of time: Prep dinner ingredients on the weekend and freeze them. You can also prepare them in the morning and store them in the refrigerator.
• Make big batches: Cook larger quantities of chicken, sauces, vegetable stews, and other foods, so you can freeze meals for a future busy day.
• Use overripe fruit: Instead of throwing away food, repurpose it. Mushy bananas are perfect for banana bread, and soft berries can be used in smoothies.
• Try new foods: Keep meal time interesting and cook foods you have not tried.
• Watch portion sizes: Use a smaller plate to "trick" yourself into thinking you have consumed more.
TOPS Club Inc. is a weight-loss support and wellness education organization.
Follow these links below for more stories on eating healthy this year.
|Last Updated on Friday, 30 March 2012 11:21|