Yay, it's March... Finally! And it's National Nutrition Month; is it me, or does it seem like there's a "month" for everything?!? However, NNM is a good month to celebrate. The USDA recommends for proper nutrition, we (as adults) eat a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free/low-fat milk & milk products. It should include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. A diet that is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.
What does it all mean? What's a proper serving size? How do I make sure I'm getting enough? How do I make the most out of my meal, nutritionally? I Prefer not to eat meat, now what? Are these are some of your questions? Here are the nutritional breakdowns by MyPlate & the USDA, and some of my suggestions:
Fruits & Vegetables: Should take up half your plate
Daily Serving Recommendations:
Fruit: 1.5-2 cups; 1 large banana/orange/apple/peach/pear = 1 cup; 1/2 cup of dried fruit = 1 cup equivalent
Veggies: 2-3 cups; 1 cup of cooked/raw veg; 2 cups dark leafy greens = 1 cup equivalent
Salads are a great way to add both fruit & veggies to a meal
Juicing is another great way to get both a serving of fruit and veggies in (carrot, apple, pineapple one of my favs)
Grains-Whole & Refined: At least half of grain daily serving should be whole grains
Daily Serving Recommendations: 5-8oz; 1 slice of bread, 1 cup cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked rice-pasta = 1 oz equivalent.
Whole Grains: Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm.
Refined Grains: Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins; i.e. white flour
Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal are great options
If weight-loss is a goal in addition to nutrition, limit refined grains.
Protein: Lean meats, eggs, beans, and nuts are great options
Daily Serving Recommendation: 5-6.5oz; 1/4 cup cooked beans, or 1 tbsp of peanut butter = 1 oz equivalent
Vegetarian/Vegan: Vegetarian options in the Protein Foods Group include beans and peas, processed soy products, and nuts and seeds.
Buy lean meats in pre-portioned amounts, to avoid over eating
Try meatless options, even if your not a vegetarian; Beans & rice are a yummy meal
Greek yogurt has protein in it too!
Dairy: switch to fat-free (or low fat/1%) milk & dairy products
Daily Serving Recommendation: 3 cups; 1 cup of milk-soymilk, 1 cup of yogurt, 1.5 oz hard cheese, 1/3 cup of shredded cheese = 1 cup equivalent
Try soymilk, its a yummy addition to cereal
Cheese sticks are a great snack, that counts as 1 serving
Greek yogurt, is a double duty food, counts for both protein & dairy serving
Overall, good nutrition is imperative to a healthy lifestyle. Enjoy your food, but eat less; avoid oversize portions; increase fruits and vegetables; eat whole grains; limit fat, processed, sodium-rich foods; and drink more water!! So, why not take a month, better yet, take a year and dedicate it to eating healthy!
p.s. Healthy food can taste good too, get creative!!