Sunday, March 11, 2012

Get Your Plate in Shape!

by Anne Pagnoni

During March we observe National Nutrition Month®.  For 2012 the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to think about what goes on his or her plate or in his bowl through this year's theme: "Get Your Plate in Shape."

It’s important to focus our thoughts on foods like fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins, and whole grains as they contain necessary nutrients without too many extra calories.  Make sure that you eat foods from all of the food groups during the day. 

The food and nutrition experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics make the following recommendations on how to “Get Your Plate in Shape”: 

·         Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables: Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange varieties. Add fresh, dried, frozen or canned fruits to meals and snacks.
·         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.
·         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. For those who are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
·         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. Keep meat and poultry portions small and lean. And be sure to choose seafood as the protein at least twice a week.
·         Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars: Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers, and season your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. Switch from solid fats to healthy oils like olive and canola oil. Replace sugary drinks with water and choose fruit for dessert.
·         Enjoy your foods 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.
·         Be physically active your way: Adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of physical activity every week. Choose activities that you enjoy, and start by doing as much as you can. 

For more information on how you can “Get Your Plate in Shape”, please visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Nutrition Month.  

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