It's human nature—most people don't like being told not to do something, including not to eat certain foods. People say they feel guilty, worried, angry, afraid and helpless about their diets, according to a survey conducted by the International Food Information Council. These feelings often arise when people hear finger-wagging nutrition advice about foods to avoid.
But there are two parts to the equation for a balanced diet: subtracting some foods that supply negative nutrients such as saturated fat, trans fat and sodium, and adding enough foods that supply important nutrients.
For a positive result, try these quick and easy tips that add good nutrition and great taste to your eating plan:
Add Veggies (for nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C):
Slip baby spinach leaves and roasted red peppers into your sandwich.
Add shredded carrots to spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, casseroles, quick breads and muffins.
Begin dinner with a veggie-loaded salad.
Stir extra chopped veggies like zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and onions into pasta sauce.
Order pizza heavy on the veggies.
Grill asparagus spears or veggie kabobs made with chunks of summer squash, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.
Serve an appetizer of broccoli florets, baby carrots, green pepper rings and cherry tomatoes with low-fat ranch dressing.
Add Fruits (for nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate):
Slice a banana, sprinkle raspberries or toss sliced peaches over your cereal.
Whip up a breakfast smoothie with frozen strawberries, banana chunks, a splash of orange juice and a few dollops of fat-free yogurt.
Add blueberries to pancake batter.
Tuck a nectarine into your lunch bag.
Grill peach halves or pineapple slices and serve with a side of fat-free frozen yogurt for a delicious dessert.
Snack on apple slices spread with peanut butter.
Add whole grains (for nutrients such as dietary fiber, B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate), iron, magnesium and selenium):
Enjoy a stir-fry on brown rice.
Toss whole-wheat pasta with your favorite sauce.
Make pancakes, waffles and muffins with half whole-wheat flour and half white flour.
Use whole-grain breadcrumbs in meatballs and meatloaf.
Make sandwiches and toast with 100% whole-wheat bread.
Add barley to soup and bulgur wheat to casseroles.
Bread chicken with rolled oats or crushed, unsweetened whole-grain cereal.
Add Dairy (for nutrients such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein):
Choose low-fat and fat-free dairy foods to get the most nutrition per calorie.
Make oatmeal with milk instead of water.
Create a breakfast parfait by layering yogurt, low-fat granola, blueberries and strawberries.
Sprinkle shredded cheese onto cooked broccoli or cauliflower
Use plain yogurt as a base for dips.
Order a latte with fat-free milk.
Slip a slice of cheese on your sandwich.
Make condensed tomato or cream soups with milk instead of water.
Add meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts (for nutrients such as protein, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, B6, omega-3s, vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium):
Go lean with protein. Choose lean cuts of beef and pork (look for the words loin or round in the name, such as pork tenderloin or top round steak), extra-lean ground beef (at least 90 percent lean) and skinless poultry (or remove the skin before eating).
To get heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, serve fish such as salmon, trout and herring at least twice a week.
Add kidney, black or pinto beans to chili and taco filling.
Toss garbanzo beans into a salad.
Snack on a hard-boiled egg.
Feature tofu in a stir-fry.
Pack a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.
Sprinkle slivered almonds on steamed veggies.