Before you eat, think about what goes onto your plate or in your bowl. Foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods contain the nutrients you need without too many calories.
Throughout the day, include foods from all the food groups. Try the following tips to “Get Your Plate in Shape.”
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red and orange vegetables, plus beans and peas. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables all count. Choose reduced sodium or no-salt-added canned vegetables.
Vegetables may also help you control your hunger and weight. They are low in calories and have very little fat. Choose fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables without added salt, butter or cream sauces.
What is one serving of vegetables? It equals to a half cup cooked; one cup raw; 1/4 cup dried; or a half cup of 100 percent juice.
It’s best to eat a variety of different colored vegetables. Each color provides different nutrients. Also aim for at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day.
Add fruit to meals and snacks. Buy and eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. Canned, dried, and frozen fruits are good options. Look for fruit without added sugar or syrups and eat a variety of different colored fruit as well.
A serving of fruit is: one medium piece (whole fruit); a half cup fruit (fresh, frozen or canned); 1/4 cup dried; or a half cup of 100 percent juice.
Make at least half your grains whole.
Choose 100 percent whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.
It will also help to switch to fat-free or low-fat milk. Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories. If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
When making your protein choices, choose a variety each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs.
—By BRENDA HANNAH (Brenda Hannah is Moore Count’s 4-H/FCS Extension Agent)