10 Simple Tips For Eating Healthier with MyPlate
#1 Balance Calories
In order to maintain a healthy weight, we must balance the amount of calories we are taking in with the amount we are burning off. Therefore, if you are trying to lose weight, you will need to eat fewer calories than your body is using.
Did you know that if you cut 500 calories each day for one week you will lose 1 pound? This is because 1-pound of body weight is made up of roughly 3,500 calories. If you’re not quite sure how many calories your body needs, visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov to find out!
#2 Eat Less and Enjoy Your Food
Slow down. Savor the flavor. Chew your food.
These are merely a few of the common phrases often used to encourage others to pay attention to our food. Most of us look forward to our meals because we love food, yet how often do you truly focus on each bite? It can take your body 20 minutes to register feelings of fullness, so if you rush through your meal, you can easily eat too much. A helpful trick to reduce your pace is to chew each bite 20 times… you may be surprised at how many new flavors enter your dining experience!
#3 Avoid Oversized Portions
Our portions have grown immensely through the years. With 64 ounce super-sized sodas, it is hard to believe that at one point a soda can was merely 8 ounces!
My favorite way to trick myself into feeling like I’m eating a healthy portion is to use smaller plates and bowls. We have one set of bowls that could honestly fit 3 of our smaller bowls! If I stick with the smaller sized bowl I may go back for a second round, but I can feel satisfied after having 2 nice sized servings rather than a single bowl. Our eyes can be deceiving – in a good way!
If you are eating out, it is not quite so easy to ask for smaller serving ware. In this case, ask if the server will box up half of your meal before they even bring it out to your table. This way, you will not even know what you are missing and your meal will still be plated with the beautiful restaurant touch. Dining on fast-food? Order the kid’s meal! This way, you still get a little bit of all of your favorites.
#4 Eat Certain Foods More Often
This is one of the most positive aspects of MyPlate. Rather than telling us what NOT to eat, we are being guided towards what we should eat MORE of. We all know what these foods are (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy), but it is certainly refreshing to be told to eat more of something isn’t it?
#5 Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Veggies
How much easier can this step be? Take your plate, divide it in half, and fill one whole side with produce! Aim for the most colorful options such as kale, berries, butternut squash, carrots, bok choy, or pumpkin to get the most bang for your nutrient buck.
#6 Switch to Fat-Free or 1% Milk
Try to slowly transition away from whole fat dairy products until you are able to enjoy the fat-free or low-fat (1%) versions. This is a simple way to cut down on your saturated fat intake. When it comes to cheese, whether animal or plant based, I prefer the reduced-fat over the fat-free versions as the fat tends to help it melt a bit more evenly. Alternatively, when it comes to yogurt, I am completely satisfied opting for a fat-free version – especially if it is the extra-rich Greek alternative.
#7 Make Half Your Grains Whole Grains
I must admit that I am a major fan of whole grains. This is usually the first area I suggest people change if they are hoping to boost their fiber intake. Not only are whole grains a great source of B vitamins and fiber, they will also help you to feel much more satisfied in comparison to a whimsy white bread. Therefore whole grains are a simple way to help you feel fuller with less!
#8 Eat Certain Foods Less Often
While I am still thankful to see tip number 4, this tip reminds us of those calorie rich treats we should aim to reduce. Try to limit foods rich in salt, sugar, and saturated or trans fatty acids. Foods found in this category include donuts, cookies, fried foods, candy, sugary beverages, high fat meats (sausage, bacon, bratwurst, hotdogs), high fat dairy, and many condiments (mayonnaise, margarine, gravies, ketchup, creamer).
Do your best to use moderation when it comes to these items and remember one-serving of margarine is merely 1 teaspoon.
#9 Watch Your Sodium Intake
Thankfully whole fruits and vegetables do not contain sodium, making it quite easy to find healthy foods very low in sodium. Alternatively canned produce, bread, dairy, even frozen meals, can all be very high in sodium. This can be very tricky as no two products are alike. In fact, I was recently comparing sodium counts in a few processed frozen pizzas and found the sodium ranging from 400 mg to over 1,000 mg!
Truly the only way to know how much sodium is in your food is to read the label. If it contains less than 140 mg, it is a low sodium choice. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 400-500 mg total sodium or less per meal as this will leave you with a bit of wiggle room for your snacks.
#10 Drink Water Instead
Water is the perfect drink. It is incredibly hydrating, economical, and calorie-free. Yet many people find its lack of flavor less than appealing. If you’re having a hard time replacing your sugary sodas and juices with water, try to zest up the flavor by adding a splash of citrus to your water or mix carbonated water with juice to dilute the sugar. You could even create a spa-like experience by placing freshly cut mint or basil in your water for a fancy touch.
I certainly hope that you can draw from the tips offered from MyPlate to help add a healthy touch into your own meals at home or on the road. Feel free to send any questions you may have my way or check out www.ChooseMyPlate.gov to learn more about the many free resources available online.