Carolina Arana DMD, MPH
CHEC Pro Contributor
Editor of PublicHealthObserver.com
You’ve probably heard the phrase “you are what you eat”. It’s true that food is broken down and transformed into cells, hormones, muscles and YOU! When you think of food in this way, it can be easier to make healthy and nutritious choices for your body. March is the National Nutrition Month and today can be your time to focus
on making informed food choices for a balanced and healthy diet. Here are some nutritional tips to encourage proper eating habits and develop sound eating. Live by the 80/20 rule. Eating nutritious foods 80% of the time and “fun”
foods 20% of the time is a healthy goal. It is time to really ENJOY the moment of eating and improve your HEALTH!
1. Eat breakfast. It boosts your energy, metabolism and mental focus.
2. Enjoy 2-4 servings of fruit each day. One serving is equal to 1/2 cup.
3. Drink water. Aim for 8-12 cups each day.
4. Avoid Trans fats. They increase your risk of heart disease.
5. Slow down. Savoring your food in a calm environment helps you tune-in to your body’s signals.
6. Eat 4-6 servings of vegetables daily.
7. Space your meals evenly throughout the day and eat a healthy snack between each meal. Too much time between meals can drop your energy levels, decrease your metabolism and result in overeating.
8. Nuts – Grab a small handful 3-5 times per week.
9. Monitor your sodium intake. Less than 2,300 mg each day is ideal – that’s about 1 teaspoon of salt.
10. Aim for 3-6 servings of grains each day. Rich in energy-boosting carbohydrates, vitamins and fiber, they’re important for overall health. One serving is equal to 1/2-cup cooked (rice, pasta, oats) or 1 oz. (1 slice bread). Gradually increase your daily fiber intake to 25-35 grams.
11. Fish for Omega-3’s. Two to three servings per week are good for your heart, brain and body.
12. Get the nutrition facts. The front of a package won’t tell you the whole story. Read labels and compare key nutrients calories, serving size, fat, fiber, calcium, and ingredients to make the best choice.
13. Consume 5 to 6.5 ounces of protein daily. Examples include: half a chicken breast (3 oz), 1 can tuna (3.5 oz), 1 Tbsp peanut butter (1 oz), 1 egg (1 oz) and 1/2 cup cooked beans (2 oz).
14. Cut the fat. Reduced-fat varieties of your favorite foods (skim milk, low-fat yogurt, etc.) will help you consume fewer calories and watch your waistline. Only 30% of your calories should come from fat–that’s 45-65 grams daily.
15. Modify your recipes. Keep the tradition and boost the nutrition by making substitutions: whole grain flour, less salt, heart-healthy fats, half the sugar, and beans instead of meat.
16. Sweeten without sugar. Sugar and corn syrup add calories to foods, but have no nutritional value.
17. Protect your bones with calcium. Aim for 3 servings of calcium-rich foods daily, such as 1 cup milk, 1 cup yogurt and 1-2 oz of cheese. Non-dairy alternatives that are fortified with calcium also make good choices.
18. Watch your portions.
19. Gradually increase your daily fiber intake to 25-35 grams.
20. Change your diet with the seasons and try a variety of colorful foods.
Plan and prepare healthy meals and make healthy food choices!