March is National Nutrition Month, a time to reflect on the basics of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. The theme this year is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day,” which captures the diversity of eating styles and ethnic foods in our world today.
The answer is that the overall pattern of your eating style and the foods you choose over time matters. Most favorite foods can fit within your eating pattern if consumed in moderation with appropriate portions sizes and combined with physical activity.
With the rates of overweight and obesity in adults at 2/3 of the population and 1/3 of our children and the health risks of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure associated with those, we need to consider healthier choices that work within our diverse lifestyles.
The Choose My Plate graphic, developed within the recommendations of the USDA dietary guidelines, can assist anyone in taking steps towards healthy habits, regardless of their cultural, ethnic, personal preferences and food cost and availability. They advise making about half your plate fruits and vegetables; about one quarter protein such as lean meats, black beans or tofu; and about one quarter grains, preferably whole grains. With that, fat free or low fat milk or yogurt is recommended.
Incorporating more vegetables and less meat is often a challenge since our world is meat and starch heavy! Here are some steps to make it happen.
- Plan menus and shop from a list.
- Buy fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis to preserve the taste and nutritional value.
- Use more fresh and frozen and less canned vegetables as canned are higher in sodium.
- Try new recipes such as roasted vegetables with herbs and spices and grilled vegetables with garlic and olive oil.
- Try new fruits and vegetables to expand your palate.
- Try this website for recipes and tips on preparing seasonal vegetables.
If you are curious about healthy ethnic foods, consider the following:
- Asian: Stir fried fish or chicken and vegetables such as bok choy, snap peas, carrots and bean sprouts; brown rice and a dish of lychee fruit.
- Italian: Minestrone with beans for fiber and protein; spinach pasta with a lycopene rich tomato sauce.
- Greek: Tzatziki sauce ( yogurt dressing with cucumber and garlic) in pita or as dip for vegetables; and dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with ground meat and vegetables, dried fruits and pine nuts).
- Mexican: Fajitas using lean beef or chicken with vegetables in a whole wheat tortilla or bean burrito with light sour cream; jicama (a crisp and slightly sweet root vegetable) peeled and sliced on a salad with lime vinaigrette or chopped into a salsa.
Stay tuned for more on eating well!
When it comes to our health, we don’t always make the best choices. The trouble is, those choices add up. Make a commitment to ChooseWell with the health and wellness experts of Aurora Health Care. Visit our website and start making healthier choices today!