Regional One Health’s clinical nutrition team provides education and counseling that help patients improve their health and manage chronic conditions.
They focus on helping patients make easy, sustainable changes to their diet. They’re offering advice you can use to make each meal of the day healthier.
Consistency is important when it comes to a healthy diet. While that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge every now and then, it does mean you should try to incorporate nutritious food into every meal of the day.
Regional One Health’s clinical nutrition team and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have some suggestions for making the most out of every meal.
Breakfast gives you energy to start your day and sets the stage for making nutritious choices. It’s easy to make healthy versions of common breakfast foods.
If you like your breakfast on the sweeter side, incorporate fruits into various dishes.
Make instant oatmeal with low-fat milk, dried fruit and chopped walnuts, or layer low-fat plain yogurt with your favorite crunchy whole grain cereal and blueberries. For a quick meal, add low-fat yogurt and peach slices to a toaster waffle, top a toasted wholegrain bagel with low-fat cream cheese and strawberries, or roll up a flour tortilla with peanut butter and banana.
You can also blend a breakfast smoothie with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
There are plenty of good savory options as well:
- Top grits with low-fat cheese and spinach or tomatoes. Add a cooked egg on the side.
- Stuff a whole-wheat pita with a sliced, hard-cooked egg and low-fat shredded cheese.
- Add lean ham and low-fat Swiss cheese to a toasted wholegrain English muffin.
If you aren’t a fan of traditional breakfast foods, try hummus on a wholegrain bagel with cucumber and tomato, veggie pizza, low-fat cottage cheese with fruit, or leftover rice mixed with low-fat yogurt, dried fruit, nuts and cinnamon. A corn tortilla with mashed avocado, black beans, salsa and low-fat cheese is also delicious!
At lunch, consider making a meal out of a salad. You’ll get several of your daily servings of vegetables, and you can be creative and play around with flavors, textures and colors.
Start with a base of leafy green vegetables such as arugula, various types of lettuce, escarole, kale, shredded cabbage, mixed greens or spinach.
From there, add more veggies to boost nutrients and taste. The possibilities are endless: artichoke hearts, broccoli, corn, beets, cauliflower, cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms, snow peas, onion, etc. Fruit can add a touch of sweetness – try apples, mandarin oranges, fresh berries, pear slices, grapes or raisins or other dried fruits.
If you’re having a salad as your meal, add some protein. Cooked meat or seafood is one option, but you can also choose vegetarian proteins like beans, chickpeas, edamame, tofu or nuts.
Finish off your salad with oil and vinegar, a yogurt-based dressing or even salsa. Toss in herbs like cilantro, parsley or basil to add flavor. You can also add a little cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, feta and parmesan are good options), bacon bits, croutons, olives, avocado or tortilla strips.
End your day with a balanced dinner. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the “Plan Your Plate” approach – make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, one-fourth lean protein, and one-fourth wholegrains.
Aim for a variety of fruits and vegetables. Look for whole, sliced or pureed fruits that are fresh, frozen, dried or canned in 100 percent juice. Select veggies in a variety of colors, and prepare them in healthful ways like steamed, sauteed, roasted or raw.
When choosing grains, look for wholegrains listed first on the ingredients list. Oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice and breads, crackers and noodles made with wholegrain flours are good options.
Finally, mix up your protein choices to include chicken, lean beef and seafood, as well as meat-free options like beans, peas and lentils, unsalted nuts and seeds, soy products and eggs.
Consider your extras
Three healthy meals is a great starting point, but you should also be aware of your beverage and snack choices. Look for options with less added sugar, saturated fat and sodium.
There are a lot of low-fat or fat-free dairy products if you like milk with your meals, and water is always an excellent choice. Limit alcohol to one drink a day for women and two for men (if you are 21 or older).
Nuts, fruit, popcorn, trail mix and raw veggies are all great snack options. It’s OK to indulge in favorites now and then but try to limit processed sweets and snacks as much as possible.
For more tips, visit www.eatright.org