Before you start loading up your dinner plate or grabbing a snack, take a moment to think about it. Consider healthy choices rather than simply eating something because it is easy or convenient. Some healthy choices include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Here are some eat right nutrition tips to help you make the best choices for your health.
Fruits and Veggies
These great choices are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and should represent about half of what you eat. 1 Choose a variety and be sure to include those with dark colors like berries, grapes, sweet potatoes and broccoli. 2 All fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and most are also low in calories.
A significant source of calcium for many people comes from milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products, but that doesn’t mean you have to consume high amounts of fat to get strong bones. 3 Choose skim or 1% milk and low or non-fat yogurt, cottage cheese and other dairy products. 4
There are many sources of protein, but the most concentrated form is found in animal products. Be careful though, meat and poultry can be high in saturated fat (the “bad” one), so be sure to eat lean cuts and drain any fat before eating. Fish and seafood are great sources of protein as well, but the fats they provide are quite healthy so make sure to eat something that swims at least twice per week. 5 Beans are also a good choice for protein as well as fiber.
What to avoid
The truth is if half of what you eat is fresh fruits and veggies, roughly ¼ whole grains and the rest lean protein and dairy, you are automatically avoiding most of the problematic foods. Of course life is not always so simple, so when you are living in the real world, avoid solid fats, sugars and salt and you will avoid a host of health problems. 6, 7, 8
Read the Label
Fresh foods are often not a problem when it comes to sugar, fat and salt, but packaged foods frequently are. For example, many cereals are high in sugar, crackers often have too much salt and some soups will give you enough fat for the whole day. So check the label and look for foods that are low in calories as well as sugar, fat and salt. 9
We’ve talked about food, but what about drinks? First of all, the same rules apply, avoid fat, salt and sugar and aim for low-calories. This essentially means that drinks should mostly include water and 100% juice. Flavored juices and other drinks can often be high in calories due to added sugar. 10 Just remember to read the label just like with food. Also be careful about alcoholic beverages as many are high in calories too. If you are going to drink, look to lower calorie spirits.