Food for Thought: Nutrition for a Healthy Lifestyle
By Megan Vaden, Pharmacy Resident, Baptist Healthy Medical Center-Little Rock
Keys to a Healthy Diet
- Balance your plate with a variety of foods. Half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, about one-fourth with lean meat, poultry, or fish, and one-fourth with grains. To round out your meal, add fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese.
- Quit before you feel full or stuffed. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your body is getting food. When your brain gets this message, you stop feeling hungry.
- Get plenty of fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Fiber can help you feel full longer and lower your risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
- Watch portion sizes to manage your calorie intake. This is the key to an effective weight-management plan.
- Find your balance between food and physical activity. Regular physical activity helps control body weight and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
- Get a personalized eating plan at ChooseMyPlate.gov. Here, you can customize a healthy eating plan that includes the right amounts of each food group you need daily.
Did you know that most Americans exceed the daily recommendations for salt intake through their diet?
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults reduce total daily salt intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day, which is ONE teaspoon of salt. Adults with high blood pressure should strive to reduce daily salt intake to less than 1,500 milligrams a day (3/4 teaspoon of salt), as excessive salt intake can make blood-pressure problems worse.
The best ways to reduce salt intake are to:
- Eat fresh foods. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, and rice are all foods that are naturally low in salt content.
- Limit processed and prepared foods. Canned foods and “instant” preparation items typically have high salt content.
- Check food labels. Consult the nutrition facts labels on items when grocery shopping to avoid additional salt content.
Did you know that most Americans consume too many calories from added sugars in foods and beverages?
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest targeting a total of 10 percent of daily calories come from added sugars. Desserts are not the only items that have high amounts of added sugar. Drinks and snack items such as crackers, ready-to-eat pasta sauces, and coffee creamers have added sugar content that contribute to daily calorie intake. These added sugars rarely have any nutritional value. Limiting these foods and beverages reserves the majority of daily calories for items that contribute to nutritional goals.
Examples of added sweeteners and added sugars:
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Maple syrup
- White granulated sugar
Nutrition is a vital component in maintaining overall health for everyone, so start incorporating healthy eating habits into your lifestyle today!