Whether it’s starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast or enjoying a meal out at a restaurant, the foods you choose can make a real difference.
“Go Further with Food” is the theme for National Nutrition Month. The theme highlights how food choices impact not only on our health and well-being, but also the community and environment.
Conversations around food often revolve around weight and health. But people rarely talk about the foods we toss out. It is estimated that Americans throw away up to 90 billion pounds of food each year. This amount doesn’t include food that goes to waste at the grocery store.
By making small changes in planning and preparing meals in advance, we can help reduce food waste and save money. Planning ahead can also set you up for success with healthy eating goals to help reach or maintain a healthy weight. Here are some health tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help you Go Further with Food:
• Eat breakfast
Start your morning with a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Try making a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese, salsa and a whole wheat tortilla or a parfait with low-fat plain yogurt, fruit and whole grain cereal.
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and 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.
• Watch portion sizes
Get out the measuring cups and see how close your portions are to the recommended serving size. Use half your plate for fruits and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean protein foods. To complete the meal, add a serving of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt.
• Be active
Regular physical activity has so many health benefits. Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults should get two hours and 30 minutes per week. You don’t have to hit the gym — take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball.
• 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 a tablespoon of peanut butter with an apple or banana.
• Get to know food labels
Reading the Nutrition Facts panel can help you shop and eat or drink smarter.
• Consult an RDN
Whether you want to eat better to lose weight or lower your risk or manage a chronic disease, consult the experts. Registered dietitian nutritionists can help you by providing sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice.
• Follow food safetyguidelines
Reduce your chances of getting sick by practicing proper food safety.
This includes: Regular hand washing, separating raw protein foods from ready-to-eat foods, cooking foods to the appropriate temperature and refrigerating food promptly. Learn more about home food safety at homefoodsafety.org.
• Drink more water
Quench your thirst with water instead of drinks with added sugars. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water if you are active, live or work in hot conditions or are an older adult.
• Get cooking
Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective.
Resolve to learn some cooking and kitchen basics, like how to dice an onion or cook dried beans. The collection of “Planning and Prep” videos at eatright.org/videos will get you started.
Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses nationwide attention on healthful eating through National Nutrition Month.
For more reliable nutrition information, visit eatright.org/nnm.
Claudia Cater is a Public Health Nutritionist with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department and WIC Program.