Nutrition from the Ground Up!
March is National Nutrition Month and this year's theme is "Nutrition from the Ground Up."
What a great time to make sure your food and fitness routine is on solid footing. It is if you follow the 8 simple steps below. Stay on track with our easy tips, too.
- Begin with breakfast. A nutritious breakfast fuels your day and supplies important nutrients. It may even help you manage your weight!
• Tips: Enjoy super-speedy whole-wheat toast and peanut butter paired with a glass of OJ, or whole-grain cereal topped with sliced banana and fat-free milk.
- Get your fruits and veggies. You know they're nutritious—they also may help reduce risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Each day, shoot for 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of veggies (based on a 2,000-calorie diet).
• Tips: Stock up on canned and frozen fruits and veggies. They're always handy—and as nutritious as fresh.
- Think 3-a-day for whole grains. MyPyramid recommends that most people eat at least three "ounce equivalents" (48 grams) of whole grains each day for good health. Examples of one ounce equivalents: ½-cup cooked oatmeal, 1 cup toasted oat cereal or whole-wheat flakes, 1 slice whole-wheat bread, ½-cup cooked brown rice or whole-wheat pasta, or 3 cups popcorn.
• Tips: Branch out! Try an "exotic" whole-grain side dish like bulgur, quinoa or amaranth. Serve kids a popular snack of popcorn sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Get your fill of fiber. Fiber is fab because it helps promote a healthy digestive system and may benefit heart health. Find it in fruits, veggies, beans and some cereals, breads and other grain products (check the Nutrition Facts label to be sure). How much fiber is recommended? As two examples, the daily recommendation for women age 19 - 50 is 25 grams and for men is 38 grams. However, only about nine out of 10 people get enough.
• Tips: Don't be a fiber statistic! Launch your daily fiber intake with a serving of wheat bran cereal (10 grams) topped with ½-cup of raspberries (4 grams). More ways to add fiber: a cup of bean soup at lunch (11 grams) and a cup of cooked spinach at dinner (7 grams).
- Nutrition-pack your snacks. Wholesome snacks are a great way for adults and kids to fill nutrition gaps. Keep snack portions reasonable so you don't overdo your daily calories.
• Tips: Snack strategically! Do you fall short on getting three daily cups of Milk Group foods? Spoon up some calcium-packed fat-free yogurt, sip a cup of fat-free chocolate milk, or enjoy a slice of low-fat cheese. Missing out on fruits and veggies? Munch an apple or some baby carrots.
- Trim the (bad) fats. Eat less saturated fat (the kind that raises blood cholesterol levels) by choosing lean cuts of meat (look for "loin" or "round" in the name), skinless poultry and fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese. Also, make sure the snacks, baked goods and other packaged foods you buy contain "0 grams trans fat" (another fat that raises cholesterol).
• Tips: Bake, broil, roast, poach or grill meat, poultry and fish instead of frying. If you crave cream in your coffee, try fat-free half-and-half. It has the body and flavor of regular cream, but zero fat.
- Activate your body. For good health, adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days—preferably every day. Kids and teens need 60 minutes.
• Tips: Brisk walking (about 3½ miles per hour) is an easy way to fill the bill and you can rack up your 30 minutes in 10-minute bouts. How about a "walk and talk" after dinner with your kids?
- Enjoy what you eat! What would life be without cheesy pepperoni pizza, rich brownies or (fill in the blank with your own favorite treat)?
• Tips: It's okay to enjoy a serving of that special food now and then. Just make sure to savor every bite!