HANCOCK – It’s time to get your Plate in Shape!
That’s the message from Tara Lassila, a clinical dietitian at Portage Health. Lassila is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
, which is celebrating National Nutrition Month
“We’re working hard this month to raise awareness for the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating habits,” Lassila said. “We hope people will take an opportunity to evaluate their current choices and make changes as needed to build a healthier plate.”
Lassila offered six simple tips that everyone could learn from:
1) Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Eat a variety of vegetables, especially those that are dark-green, red, and orange, plus beans and peas. Choose fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables. For canned vegetables, look for those without added salt. For canned fruits, look for those in water or 100% juice.
2) Make at least half of your grains, whole grains
Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.
3) Opt for 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.
4) Vary your protein choices
Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs. Twice per week, make seafood the protein on your plate.
5) Cut back on sodium and empty calories
Watch for salt (sodium) in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Select fruit for dessert. Eat sugary desserts less often.
Make major sources of saturated fats, such as desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages and hot dogs occasional choices, not everyday foods. Select lean cuts of meat and fat-free or low-fat dairy. Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.
6) Enjoy your food, but eat less
Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food. When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options and opt for dishes that include vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
“Taking these steps will help provide energy and essential nutrients that your body needs to run optimally,” Lassila said. “A healthy diet is also important for prevention as it can help to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
Lassila also serves as the contact person for the U.P. district of the Michigan Dietetic Association. For more information on healthy eating visit eatright.org