March is National Nutrition Month! If you’re not doing so already, it’s a great time to start thinking about what foods go on your plate and whether your meals are comprised of foods from all the major food groups. So how do you know how much of each food group is the right amount and whether or not you’re eating healthfully? Check out these tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Fresh, frozen and canned fruits and veggies all count; choose “reduced sodium” or “no salt added” canned vegetables. And vary your veggies–make sure you eat nutrient-rich dark green, red and orange veggies. Don’t forget to include some beans, too. Not sure how to incorporate fruits into your diet? Bananas, apples, and oranges make great on-the-go snacks, and a fresh fruit salad is a tasty dessert after any meal.
- Make at least half your grains whole. Go for 100% whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice.
- Consider switching up your milk. Fat-free and low-fat milk have less fat and calories than whole milk, but the same amount of calcium and nutrients. If you’ve been avoiding milk due to a lactose intolerance, try soy milk (look for one fortified with calcium) or lactose-free milk. Also consider switching to fat-free or low-fat yogurt and cheese.
- Eat a variety of protein. Seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, nuts and beans are all excellent sources of protein. If you are cooking meat, it’s healthier to bake or broil it instead of frying it.
- Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.
- Cook more often at home. This allows you to have more control over what goes on your plate as well as what portion sizes you’re eating. If you eat out, choose lower-calorie menu options that incorporate whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
- Keep track of what you eat. At ChooseMyPlate.gov, you can track the foods you’re eating each day, plus get your personal daily calorie limit, track your exercise, and more. There is no cost to use ChooseMyPlate.gov‘s resources.
Interested in finding out more about how you can maintain a healthy weight and eat a healthier diet? If your employer offers a wellness program or wellness coaching, be sure to take advantage (if your employer offers Health Advocate as an employee benefit, you might have access to one or both of these things, so check with your employer!). Or consider talking to a nutritionist–if you aren’t already connected with one, a service like Health Advocate can help you find a local, in-network nutritionist who can give you more tips on healthy eating.