For a healthier diet, try to eat more of these foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and some low-fat dairy products.
Start small by setting goals that are more likely to succeed. Then gradually work towards where you want to be. Setting achievable goals will lead to lasting change.
Here are 10 little ways to improve your nutrition.
- Keep your daily calorie intake at a reasonable amount. Find out how many calories you need for your age, gender, activity level, and personal weight goals (i.e., do you want to lose, gain, or maintain your weight?). If you want to lose weight, consult your health care provider for a safe calorie goal and diet. Working with other certified counselors such as a dietitian, fitness professional, or wellness coach can help you achieve your goals.
- Enjoy your food, but eat less. Take the time to fully enjoy what you eat. This is called mindful eating. Eating fast or not paying attention to what you eat, known as thoughtless eating, can lead to overeating calories.
- Keep food portions at a reasonable and recommended amount. “Portion distortion” is rampant in America. To learn more about how much food to eat daily for your calorie needs, in the fruit, vegetable, protein, and grain food categories, visit the supertracker website.
- Try to eat more of these foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and some low-fat dairy products. Try to make it the basis of your meals and snacks rather than meats and other foods that are high in fat and non-nutritious.
- Devote half of your plate to fruit and vegetable meals. Fruits, vegetables (and grains) provide important vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Most have little fat and no cholesterol. They also contain fiber to aid digestion and prevent constipation. Research shows that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar and prevent heart disease.
- Try to prepare at least half (or preferably all) of your daily whole grains. Whole grain foods are a major source of energy and fiber. Learn to read food labels so you can recognize which grains are truly whole grains.
- Select leaner protein sources and try to use more plant protein in your meals and recipes. Protein foods include animal sources (dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood) and plant sources (beans, peas, soy products, nuts, seeds).
- Cut back on less healthy foods. These are foods high in saturated and solid (trans) fats and added sugars and salt, like cookies, ice cream, candy, sugary drinks, and fatty meats like bacon and hot dogs. These foods generally provide a lot of calories and little or no nutritional benefit. Take them as occasional treats, but not every day.
- Reduce your sodium intake (salt intake). Reduce the use of canned, packaged and frozen processed foods. If you buy these items, use the Nutrition Facts label to choose low sodium versions of foods. Another important source of added salt is restaurant meals that are high in sodium.
- Rethink your drink. Drink more water and other unsweetened drinks, instead of sugary drinks and other high-calorie drinks. Sodas, sugary juices, energy and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in many American diets.