Health Advocate Blog

Get your plate in shape

While healthy eating is often considered complicated or challenging, it is actually very simple! 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?  Here are some tips to help you get started on your path toward better eating habits.

Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies.  A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is key to maintaining a healthy body as they are high in fiber, full of vitamins and a source of carbohydrates.

  • Aim for 5 to 7 servings per day.
  • Try to eat fruits and vegetables of varying color for greater nutritional benefit. Aim for a full spectrum of colors.
  • 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.

Aim for a quarter of your plate at each meal to be a grain. These foods are carbohydrates, the main source of energy for your body.

  • Make half your grains whole grains for added nutritional benefit.
  • Limit refined grain products such as white bread, baked goods or other sweets.
  • Shop for 100% whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice.

Make protein one quarter of your plate at each meal. This macronutrient is essential to the building, maintenance and repair of body tissues including skin, organs and muscles.

  • Choose proteins wisely. Seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts and beans are all excellent sources of protein.
  • Opt for plant-based proteins to boost your eating habits and nutrients.
  • Limit certain proteins like fatty cuts of beef, pork and high-fat dairy products.

Be smart about beverages to limit unnecessary calories and sugar.

  • Drink more water. Water provides hydration with no calories, fat or sugar.
  • Limit milk/dairy to 1 to 2 servings per day; choose options that are low in fat.
  • Avoid sugary beverages like those made from powdered mixes, fruit punch, lemonades, iced tea, soda, etc.

Focus on healthy fats. Certain types of fats are essential components of a healthy diet.

  • Eat foods high in healthy monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids like nuts, fish and oils such as olive and canola oil.
  • Limit foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats such as those found in animal products, butter or hard margarine, and baked goods.