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Nutrition 101 -Part 2<br />The First Three Steps to a Nutrition Makeover
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Nutrition 101 -Part 2
The First Three Steps to a Nutrition Makeover

 
Ten Tips for Healthy Eating

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) replaced the complex and sometimes controversial pyramid with a much easier to understand circle shape in 2011. You can pretty much grasp the MyPlate concept with one look. The website also offers a variety of tools to help you learn eat more healthfully.(2)

Use the SuperTracker(3) to develop a personalized nutrition and activity plan for yourself. Begin by determining your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI may be in the healthy range, but that doesn’t mean your diet is at its best. If your BMI is over the healthy range, use the tools available to develop a plan for losing weight. Track your food intake and physical activity to keep yourself accountable.

Our third and final installment on accomplishing a nutritional makeover will show you how to read food labels, cook more healthfully at home, and ways to make the pleasure of eating out something you won't regret.

Whether your goal is losing weight or just improving what you eat, making good food choices can be made easier by following these ten tips:

  1. Find out how many calories you need. Go to the Daily Food Plan to find your calorie level and the number of servings from each food group that you need to eat each day.(4)
  2. Enjoy your food, but eat less of it. Eat mindfully, paying attention to your hunger level and knowing when you've had enough.
  3. Use smaller plates, cups, glasses, and bowls. Portion your food out before you sit down at the table.(5)
  4. Increase the amount of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods that you need, perhaps incorporating them as snacks.
  5. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.(6)(7)
  6. Switch to low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk.(8)
  7. Make half of your grain foods whole grains.(9)
  8. Cut back on foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and salt. Foods like ice cream, cookies, candies, sweetened beverages, pizza, and fatty meats should be used as occasional treats, not eaten daily.(10)(11)(12)
  9. Compare the sodium content of foods and choose those with the lowest amounts. (The third part of this series will show you how to interpret the nutritional information on food labels accurately.)
  10. Drink water or unsweetened beverages, and leave the sugar sweetened beverages for special occasions.
  11. One word of caution: If you have a nutrition-related medical condition, you should check with your doctor before making changes to your usual diet.

Whether you make the choice to consult a registered dietitian or not, taking a thoughtful approach to your nutritional makeover is very important to its ultimate success. Use your food journal, (you only need to keep it for a week!) to get an accurate picture of your nutritional strengths and the black holes, the trigger foods that make you eat more than you should. The MyPlate guidelines provide a safe, ready-made way to eat more healthfully.

Our third and final installment on accomplishing a nutritional makeover will show you how to read food labels, cook more healthfully at home, and ways to make the pleasure of eating out something you won't regret. Now, get started on that food journal!

September 5, 2012
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