Are you looking to eat a little healthier? This is a great reason to kick start some healthful eating and physical activity habits and to challenge yourself to make more informed food choices. Here are a few tips to help you meet your nutrition goals.
“Personalize Your Plate.” One size does not fit all when it comes to nutrition and health. We need to tailor our food and physical activity choices to meet our needs. We all have different tastes in food, our health goals and food budgets vary, and we have unique bodies that may require different kinds of fuel to keep us happy and healthy. It is easy to develop unhealthy food and activity habits as we all are juggling family, job and life responsibilities, and sometimes taking care of ourselves just gets pushed to the bottom of the checklist. In the last year, we all have experienced more family, job and life stress than we thought we could handle. One simple objective can be to simply eat real foods.
Taking control of your nutrition is a great way to focus on a nutrition and physical activity plan that works for you. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide nutrition recommendations based on science, are updated every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines came out in December 2020 with a few key messages that might help you think about your nutrition and physical activity goals.
One key message is to incorporate more plant-based foods into our diets for their nutritional value and to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. And it is not that difficult when we plan our meals, about half of our plate should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter of our plate should be whole grains, and a quarter of our plate should be from lean sources of protein (which could — and maybe should — be plant-based sources of protein such as beans, lentils and nuts at least a few days of the week). Most Americans don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. In fact, only one in 10 adults eats enough fruits and vegetables. One goal you may set might be to have your plate include healthy, nutrient-dense foods from all the food groups, including fruits and vegetables.
What we also know is there are four nutrients or foods that most Americans get too much of: added sugars, saturated fat, sodium and alcoholic beverages. So, a second goal might be to try to eat less one of those nutrients, foods or beverages.
Some strategies to help you meet your nutrition and physical activity goals are:
- to make a grocery list and plan meals in advance
- keep healthy ingredients on hand
- and try a new food, a novel spice or a different recreational activity that involves being active every month.
Whatever your nutrition and physical activity goals are, personalize your plan to meet your needs and ytu to live a little bit healthier.