Unless you’re well versed in food choices, eating healthy can be overwhelming and discouraging with all the food choices that are out there. On top of that, something may look healthy; however, the food label will say otherwise. Here are some random and basic tips that will help you understand food choices a little bit better which will lead to a better diet.
Whole Grain Tips!
- You should eat 3 or more servings of whole grains per day. A serving of whole grain does not include those tasty doughnuts, rather it is about 1/2 cup of cooked cereal or grain, 1 slice of whole-grain bread, or 1 cup of whole-grain cold breakfast cereal.
- What constitutes whole grain? Whole grain products contain the entire grain seed of a plant. This means they are higher in fiber and vitamins and minerals. If a food label says “100% whole grain” it must contain at least 16 grams of whole grain per serving. While a “whole grain” stamp identifies foods that have at least a 1/2 serving of whole grain – 8 grams.
- A general rule of thumb is 1 oz of starchy foods equals 1 serving. That means a bagel weighing 4 oz would be 4 servings of starch choices!
- TIP: nobody wants to measure all of their food choices – an open handful is equal to about 1 cup or 1 oz to 2 oz of snack food.
Fresh, Frozen, Dried, or Canned – Are All Fruits The Same?
- In general, 1 fruit choice is 1/2 cup of canned or fresh fruit or unsweetened fruit juice, 1 small (4oz) fresh fruit, or 2 tablespoons of dried fruit.
- Fresh, frozen, and dried fruits are good sources of fiber and should be chosen over fruit juices.
- Use a scale to weigh your fresh fruit to practice building your portion sizes.
- Food labels that claim “no sugar added” or “unsweetened” don’t mean that it is void of sugar, just that no table sugar has been added.
- Avoid fruits canned in heavy syrup.
Milk – The Difference In %
- Milks and yogurts are divided into fat-free (skim)/low-fat (1%), reduced fat (2%), and whole. The only difference between these milk choices is in the grams of fat they contain, which then influences calories. Fat-free and low-fat options have about 60 calories less than whole milk per serving.
- The higher the fat content of milk and yogurt, the more saturated fat and cholesterol it contains.
Don’t Forget About Those Leafy Greens
- Fresh and frozen vegetables have less added salt than canned vegetables. But, you can drain and rinse your canned vegetables to remove some of the salt.
- Color does matter! You should choose dark green and dark yellow vegetables every day.
- Vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale should be eaten several times each week.
- Include more vegetables in your diet by keeping vegetables prepared and in a visible place in your refrigerator, adding them to pastas and rice, or adding them into your pasta sauce.
Now remember, never grocery shop when you’re hungry, make a list, plan ahead when eating out, split meals and desserts, limit dressings and other extra calories like croutons and bacon. Add a little work out to keep your fitness level up and you’ll be on your way to a healthier you.