A healthy diet is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. This is true at every age but can become even more crucial past mid-life when the risk for many diseases can rise. Many people consider it difficult and complicated to eat healthy foods and it certainly can be – especially when you are counting calories, points, carbohydrates and other figures.
But it can also be easy to eat healthy meals. Follow these guidelines to build healthy meals and a healthy body:
- Fill half of your plate with fruits and non-starchy vegetables. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables all count. Mix in dark-green, red and orange vegetables; if using canned vegetables, look for “reduced sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
- Make sure half of your grains are whole grain. Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers and pastas. Select high fiber cereals (4+ grams) to help aid digestion.
- Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
- Vary your protein choices. Eat a variety of protein each week, including seafood, nuts, beans, poultry, lean beef and eggs.
- Watch your portions. Make sure you integrate in your favorite foods periodically so that you can stick to a healthy lifestyle. Just make sure that if you are having a less healthy treat (e.g., sugary desserts, salty snacks) you avoid oversized portions.
Many of us gain a couple pounds each year as we age and our metabolism slows. That’s why it’s important to balance your food and beverage intake with your daily energy needs. Try to work out 3–5 times per week for at least 30 minutes. If you still find the weight creeping on, try to cut-off food after 7 p.m. or look for culprits in your diet (e.g., a daily 400 calorie latte) that you could change to a substitute without losing a lot of satisfaction.
Diet is a significant factor in many diseases in America, and our diet is something we all have the power to change!
*Peg Fitkowski, RD, CDN, is the Director of Nutrition Services for Meals on Wheels for WNY. Homebound seniors may be a fit for Meals on Wheels delivery; 716-822-2002.