Almost everyone is interested in healthy habits but then seem confused by nutrition myths as to what is healthy. So many people are “watching their carbs” or avoiding starches, avoiding bread. But none of these are really healthy habits. Adopting good, healthy eating habits and making even small changes in daily habits can result in good things for your health. The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition has Eight Healthy Eating Goals. We will review 4 this week and 4 goals next week. They recommend making small changes each week towards a healthier diet and a healthier you.
Goal 1: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Eating more fruits and vegetables is so very important to good health. The easiest way to do this is 5 A Day – aiming for eating at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day. Have a serving of fruit at breakfast, a fruit and vegetable serving at lunch and then 2 vegetables at dinner. You want to vary the color for optimal nutrition as different colors offer different antioxidants, different vitamins and minerals.
Goal 2: Make half your grains whole grains: Rather than “watching your carbs” or avoiding bread, you should add carbs to your day. But good carbs that are whole grain. Enjoy a whole grain cereal for breakfast. Buy English muffins or bagel thins that are whole grain. Buy some whole grain crackers. Enjoy some popcorn as a snack. The President’s Council recommends looking for things like: "whole wheat," "brown rice," "bulgur," "buckwheat," "oatmeal," "rolled oats," quinoa," or "wild rice."
Goal 3: Choose low fat milk, yogurt and cheese. Some people think low fat milk or fat free milk has less nutrients than whole milk. But that isn’t true. The calcium, protein and other nutrients are the same. Just the fat is less. If you are used to drinking whole milk, try switching to 2%. If you drink 2% milk, try switching to 1% milk. Any reduction in fat is good for your health. Yogurt is great for your health, but choose low fat yogurt. Look for lower fat cheese, like mozzarella made with 2% milk.
Goal 4: Lower the sodium in your diet. I would also add increase the potassium. Read the label to see how much sodium in in the food you are eating. And be sure to add more fruits and vegetables to your day for extra potassium. Potassium helps counter the bad effects of sodium in your diet.
What small changes can you make this week? Pack your lunch and include 2 fruits and vegetables. Bring a fruit such as an apple or banana along for a snack. Choose some whole grains like a bowl of Cheerios with a sliced banana and some 1% milk.