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Let’s eat for the health of it

Posted 9/2/2015

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the best science-based advice on how to eat for health. The Guidelines encourage all Americans to eat a healthy diet and be physically active. Improving what you eat and being active will help to reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and obesity. Use the following steps to help you follow the Guidelines.

Build a Healthy Plate

Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your cup or bowl. Foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein foods contain the nutrients you need without too many calories. And the items you drink also count toward a healthy plate. Try some of these options.

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to non-fat or 1% milk.
  • Make at least half your grains whole.
  • Vary your protein food choices, choosing seafood, legumes and nuts more often.

Cut back on foods that are high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt

Many people eat foods with too much solid fat, added sugar, and/or salt (sodium). Added sugars and fats load foods with extra calories you don’t need. Too much sodium may increase your blood pressure.

  • Choose foods and drinks with little or no added sugars.
  • Eat fewer refined grains.
  • Look out for salt (sodium) in foods you buy—it all adds up.
  • Eat fewer foods that are high in solid fats.

Eat the right amount of calories for you

Everyone has a personal calorie limit. Staying within yours can help you get to or maintain a healthy weight. People who are successful at managing their weight have found ways to keep track of how much they eat in a day, even if they don’t count every calorie.

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less. Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl, and glass. Stop eating when you are satisfied, not full.
  • Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food.
  • When eating out, choose lower-calorie menu options.
  • Write down what you eat to keep track of how much you eat.

Be physically active your way

Pick activities that you like and start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. Every bit adds up, and the health benefits increase as you spend more time being active.

Use food labels to help you make better choices in the foods you eat.

The Guideline are updated every five years. The newest version, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015, should be available late this year.

Email or call Susan Lednicky, Nutritionist with Clark County Cooperative Extension, at 702-257-5548.

For more information on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 visit: Dietary Guidelines

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