By Sandra Horob, MEd., RDN, Director of Nutrition Services
Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the nation’s largest organization of nutrition professionals, highlights healthy eating for the country. As members of this community, dietitians strive to ensure that safe, ethical, and factual information is provided to the public. At Trinity Health, our staff of registered dietitian nutritionists are committed to keeping our communities informed by providing relevant articles, community events, and educational opportunities.
Food, Nutrition, and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Be Active
Regular physical activity has many health benefits. Start by doing what exercise you can. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults at least 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.
5. Get to Know Food Labels
Reading the Nutrition Facts panel can help you shop and eat or drink smarter.
6. 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.
7. Consult an RDN
Whether you want to lose weight, lower your health-risks, or manage a chronic disease, consult the experts! Registered dietitian nutritionists can help you by providing sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice.
8. Follow Food Safety Guidelines
Reduce your chances of getting sick with proper food safety. This includes regular hand washing, separating raw foods from ready-to-eat foods, cooking foods to the appropriate temperature, and refrigerating food promptly. Learn more about home food safety at www.homefoodsafetyorg.
9. Drink More Water
Quench your thirst with water instead of drinks with added sugars. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, especially if you are active, are an older adult, or live or work in hot conditions.
10. Get Cooking
Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding, and cost-effective. Master some kitchen basics, like dicing onions or cooking dried beans. The collection of “Planning and Prep” videos at www.eatright.org/videos will get you started.
11. Dine Out without Ditching Goals
You can eat out and stick to your healthy eating plan! The key is to plan ahead, ask questions, and choose foods carefully. Compare nutrition information, if available, and look for healthier options that are grilled, baked, broiled, or steamed.
12. Enact Family Meal Time
Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Set a regular mealtime. Turn off the TV, phones, and other electronic devices to encourage mealtime talk. Get kids involved in meal planning and cooking and use this time to teach them about good nutrition.
13. Banish Brown Bag Boredom
Whether it’s for work or school, prevent brown bag boredom with easy-to-make, healthy lunch ideas. Try a whole-wheat pita pocket with veggies and hummus or a low sodium vegetable soup with whole grain crackers or a salad of mixed greens with low-fat dressing and a hard-boiled egg.
14. Reduce Added Sugars
Foods and drinks with added sugars can contribute empty calories and little or no nutrition. Review ingredients on the food label to help identify sources of added sugar. Visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information.
15. Eat Seafood Twice a Week
Seafood—fish and shellfish—contains a range of nutrients including healthy omega-3 fats. Salmon, trout, oysters, and sardines are higher in omega-3s and lower in mercury.
16. Explore New Foods and Flavors
Add more nutrition and eating pleasure by expanding your range of food choices. When shopping, make a point of selecting a fruit, vegetable, or whole grain that’s new to you or your family.
17. Experiment with Plant-Based Meals
Expand variety in your menus with budget-friendly meatless meals. Many recipes that use meat and poultry can be made without. Eating a variety of plant foods can help. Vegetables, beans, and lentils are all great substitutes. Try including one meatless meal per week to start.
18. Make an Effort to Reduce Food Waste
Check out what foods you have on hand before stocking up at the grocery store. Plan meals based on leftovers and only buy what you will use or freeze within a couple of days. Managing these food resources at home can help save nutrients and money.
19. Slow Down at Mealtime
Instead of eating on the run, try sitting down and focusing on the food you’re about to eat. Dedicating time to enjoy the taste and textures of foods can have a positive effect on your food intake.