Healthy food and wise eating habits help with weight management, increase energy levels, improve body function and reduce the risk of illness.
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Choosing food wisely and selecting moderate portions help manage body weight and can contribute to the reduction of risks related to cancer and other diseases. Every day health issues such as colds and arthritis also can be managed with proper food selection.
Fruits, vegetables, beans and grains are available in a wide range of colors — brown, red, green, yellow, white and orange. So, think in terms of eating a rainbow of foods. The healthier food usually has the brighter colors. Diet adjustments can include:
- Increasing the number of fruits and veggies to at least five servings per day.
- Eating more whole grains, including whole wheat pasta.
- Starting to think about meat and poultry as a side dish rather than a main course.
- Having other sources of protein available for meals or as a substitute for meat. These include beans and soy products.
Healthy Mealtime Substitutes
Break away from the routine meals, some of which likely contain fewer healthy ingredients, and try new substitutions. Begin substituting a few times a week and gradually build your substitute diet into a seven-day meal plan.
Breakfast: For eggs, use a healthy egg substitute. Another option for two eggs is to use one with a yolk and the other with just the egg white. Replace regular sausage with low-fat turkey sausage. Use whole-grain cereals with low sugar and sodium content. Try low-fat yogurt and fruit.
Lunch: Green salad can include a variety of lettuces, spinach, kale, arugula and other leafy vegetables. Watch the dressing. It is loaded with fat. Try low-fat dressing, oil and vinegar, lemon/lime, or use just a splash of a favorite dressing for taste. Include a slice or two of whole wheat or multi-grain bread. Clear soup that is low in fat content is perfect on cold days. The soup and sandwich team still is a popular meal, if the soup contains little fat and the sandwich is low-fat turkey with mustard.
Dinner: Broiled food is better than fried food. This can include chicken, turkey and fish. Include soy products. Pasta can be tossed with a variety of favorite vegetables and some olive oil rather than smothered in tomato sauce.
Snacks and desserts: The cakes that make eyes widen should be replaced with fruit, carrots, sorbet, juice bars, or angel food cake. Fat-free pretzels and air-popped popcorn are healthy snacks.
Balance Meals and Treats
If healthy eating is part of the routine, some treats can be added to the daily diet. Just make sure the treats don’t replace the healthy food.
To ensure that more healthy food is consumed than the diet busters:
- Keep the refrigerator and pantry stocked with the various kinds of food mentioned above.
- Opt for home-prepared items over restaurant, take-out and fast food.
- Drink water instead of soda or high sugar juice drinks. Another option is plain seltzer splashed with a favorite juice or lemon/lime.
Food Preparation: Try This Not That
Healthy eating is more than just the food that is purchased. A lot also has to do with preparation. Here are some interchangeable cooking tips:
- Season with lemon and herbs rather than butter and salt.
- Saute in broth rather than butter or oil.
- Trim fat and remove skin from meats instead of cooking meat directly from the package.
- Grilling or broiling is better than frying in butter, oil, or lard.
- Use applesauce in baked goods instead of butter or shortening.
For more information about foods and health, visit the American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and MyPyramid.