This National Nutrition Month®, remind yourself to “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” Whether at home or out and about, YOU have control over what you put in your body. Every time you eat, try to make one small, healthy change. Can you eat a piece of fruit instead of dessert? Snack on carrots without dip? Skip the roll with your dinner? Small changes like these add up over time – you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to positively impact your health!
Here are some tips to get you started:
Start with a plan for lifelong health.
Focus on the big picture – achieving overall good health – not just short term weight loss.
Set healthy, realistic goals.
You are more likely to succeed in reaching realistic goals when you make changes step by step. Start with one or two specific, small changes at a time.
Track your progress by keeping a food and activity log.
Get a personalized eating plan. Go to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for a plan that will give you the amounts you need daily of each food group. If you have special dietary needs, consult a registered dietitian for a customized plan.
Eat at least three meals a day, and plan your meals ahead of time.
Whether you’re eating at home, packing a lunch or eating out, an overall eating plan for the day will help keep you on track.
Balance your plate with a variety of foods.
Half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, about one fourth with lean meat, poultry or fish, and one fourth with grains. To round out your meal, add fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese. Start your meal with low-calorie foods like fruits, vegetables and a salad. These foods are packed with nutrients your body needs.
Focus on your food.
Pick one place to sit down and eat at home. Eating while doing other things may lead to overeating. Also, switching from a large plate to a smaller one may help you feel satisfied with reduced portions.
Know when you’ve had enough to eat.
Quit before you feel full or stuffed. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your body is getting food. When your brain gets this message, you stop feeling hungry.
Get plenty of fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.
Fiber can help you feel full longer and lower your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Watch portion sizes to manage your calorie intake.
This is the key to an effective weight management plan. To make sure your portion sizes are “just right,” visit the MyPlate Food Groups Food Galleries at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for healthy eating guidelines in household measures.
Include snacks as part of your daily calorie allowance, and limit portions to one serving. Plan for nutritious snacks to prevent between-meal hunger. Keep portable, healthy snacks in your desk, backpack or car.
Find your balance between food and physical activity.
Regular physical activity is important for your overall health and fitness – plus, it helps control body weight, promotes a feeling of well-being, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Pick activities you like, and do each for at least 10 minutes at a time. Aim for a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes or more each week of moderate activity such as brisk walking. If you are currently inactive, check with your doctor concerning increased physical activity.