Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle: Celebrating National Nutrition Month
Most people are well aware of how closely our lifestyle choices, including diet and physical activity, are linked to our health and weight goals. Yet despite this awareness, more and more Americans are overweight or obese, a major risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more. Conflicting nutrition advice, complicated diet rules or plans, and the perception that healthy food tastes bad or is too expensive can often thwart our good intentions to eat healthier. The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Try these two very simple yet powerful steps to start you well on your way to better health through better nutrition:
1) Take smaller portions of the foods you crave or love rather than give them up entirely – consider taking ½ portions.
2) Fill the remaining ½ of your plate with vegetables and/or fruits.
How does this work? Take this example:
Typical Meal ½ plate method
2 cups spaghetti noodles 1 cup spaghetti noodles
1 cup meat sauce ½ cup meat sauce
¼ cup shredded mozz. 2 Tbsp shredded mozzarella
1 cup fresh green beans w/ mushrooms sauté in 1 tsp olive oil
Calories: 820 Calories: 480
Saturated Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 6g
Sodium: 1330 mg Sodium: 670 mg
Carbohydrates: 105g Carbohydrates: 59g
You just slashed your calories, saturated fat, sodium and carbohydrates nearly in half while still getting a full plate of food and a satisfied belly! If you are game, you can up the nutrition even more by modifying your original meal to reduce fat, sodium, sugar and/or increase fiber. For example, you can substitute lean ground turkey and whole-wheat noodles in our example above. Add fresh basil and garlic for a guilt-free tantalizing treat for your taste buds.
To keep expenses down, consider these few tips:
1) Whole Grains:
a. Buy the store-brand version
b. Buy in bulk – it has a long shelf life
c. Reduce portions at meals to 1-2 ounces (as in the ½ plate method)
a. Reduce portions at meals to 3 ounces (as in the ½ plate method)
b. Replace the meat/chicken/fish one meal a day (or as often as you can) with cooked dried beans – a cost savings of 50-75% less per pound!
a. Purchase your spices from bulk bins rather than pre-bottled options and spend as much as 80% less!
4) Fruits and vegetables:
a. Buy the right amount and then make them a part of every meal. Rotten produce = money wasted.
b. Choose fresh produce with the lowest price per pound/unit, which may vary weekly or seasonally.
c. Choose frozen (or even canned is better than none – just drain and rinse really well).
So go ahead, take a bite into a healthy lifestyle! For more help or ideas, contact a registered dietitian.
By Whitney Voorhees, MPH, RD, Clinical Dietitian
Cardiac Wellness Center, Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. For more information or assistance with making these lifestyle changes, schedule an appointment at 804-359-WELL .