March is Nutrition Month! We’re aiming to eat better and hope you’ll join us!
Brookwood Baptist Registered Dietitian Micah Madsen shares with us some tips on getting the biggest nutritional punch out of your plate:
- Watch your portion sizes. “Portion sizes are the biggest issue most people have with food,” Madsen says. “If your portions are too big, even with healthy foods, you’re going to be getting too many calories.” Consider having your dinner on a salad plate – you’ll eat less, but your brain will still see a full plate.
- Stay in balance. “I ask patients if they’re eating a little bit of everything, or if they’re getting most of their calories from only two or three food groups,” she says. “A well-rounded diet is key to healthy nutrition.” Try to incorporate items from all food groups into your meals to get the most bang out of what you’re eating.
- Set small achievable goals. “It’s great to set goals for yourself, but you need to be specific and put them in a time frame.” Madsen suggests that rather than saying, “I’m going to eat healthier,” you make your goal, “I am going to eat a vegetable with every lunch and dinner every day for the next three weeks.” At the end of the month, you can look back and see if you met your goal.
- Check your meal makeup. “Each individual varies, but in general, an ideal meal consists of a lean protein, one to two servings of vegetables and a whole grain starch,” Madsen says. “If you’re going to have dessert, make it a piece of fruit. I also recommend a glass of low-fat milk for most people.”
- Pack your protein. “The ideal protein is fish or chicken,” she says. “If you’re having chicken, take the skin off, and with either fish or chicken, you can bake, grill or broil it. Pan frying is OK, but only with one to two tablespoons of olive oil.”
- Watch for colors. “With fruits and vegetables, the brightly colored ones pack the biggest nutritional punch,” Madsen says. “Choose spinach over iceberg lettuce for salads; sweet potatoes over baking potatoes; carrots and broccoli over corn. With fruit, berries and watermelon are your best bet. Keep the skin on apples and pears to ensure you’re getting fiber, and enjoy bananas in moderation.”
- Read the label. “With whole grains, you can’t tell what you’re getting just by the name or color,” she says. “Read the label and look for ‘made with whole grains’ or ‘made with whole wheat.’” Madsen recommends choosing whole grain brown rice over white rice, whole wheat pasta over white pasta and multi-grain tortillas over regular ones.
- Keep salt in check. “The average person should have no more than 2400 milligrams of sodium per day,” Madsen says. “If you’re trying to reduce your salt intake, replace the flavor with pepper, Mrs. Dash seasoning or even fresh herbs like rosemary, basil or thyme. You’ll get great flavor without all the sodium.”
Whether you’re just getting started trying to have a healthy diet, or you’re almost there when it comes to a nutritional plate, remember that food is the fuel our bodies use. Feed them well, and they’ll perform better!
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