Get Your Plate in Shape

  • Published
  • By Shannan Bergtholdt
  • Health and Wellness Center health promotion program coordinator
This month it's is all about making better-for-you food choices that contribute to overall health. March is National Nutrition Month and this year's theme from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is "Get Your Plate in Shape." Shape up your plate by applying these four healthy eating tips to your everyday routine.

Power up with breakfast. Having a morning meal will fire up your metabolism and provide your body with the energy it needs to feel energized throughout the day. Find tasty ways to sneak in nutrition by adding fruits and nuts to whole grain oatmeal or low fat yogurt. Trade high sugar, high fat foods for high fiber choices and add protein to help keep you satisfied between meals.

Smart snacking. Have a game plan for your snacks throughout the week. Before you reach into the office candy bowl, keep in mind snacks like sweets and chips are high in calories, but low in nutrition. Stock your desk or work area with a variety of easy to store foods, such as trail mix, dried or fresh fruits and whole grain crackers.

Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are nature's nutritional powerhouses. Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange vegetables plus beans and peas. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables all count. Choose "reduced sodium" or "no-salt-added" canned vegetable and add fruit to meals and snacks. Buy fruits that are dried, frozen or canned in water or 100 percent juice, as well as fresh fruits.

Know the nutrition facts. Ever wonder what the health claims on your food packaging really mean? Making healthier choices starts with knowing what's in the food you are eating. Check out some of the most common health claims. Don't always go by what is on the package, check the claim again the nutrition facts label. Start with the serving size because not all serving sizes are the same for every brand.

· Low calorie -- Less than 40 calories per serving
· Reduced -- 25 percent less of the specified nutrient or calories than the usual product
· Low fat -- Less than three grams of fat per serving
· Calorie-free -- Less than five calories per serving
· Fat free / sugar free -- Less than half a gram of fat or sugar per serving
· Low sodium -- Less than 140 mg of sodium per serving
· High fiber -- five or more grams of fiber per serving

Balanced eating starts with simple changes you can make in your daily routine that will add up to big results.

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this article is not intended to take the place of medical advice. If you'd like to speak to a registered dietitian, contact the HAWC at 572-5785.