Healthy Eating Patterns that Work Best for You
Developing a healthful eating pattern is not one-size-fits-all. When you find a way to make nutrition recommendations fit with your likes and priorities, it is more likely to be something you can continue long-term. In March, the Academy focuses attention on healthful eating through National Nutrition Month®. This year’s theme, Personalize Your Plate, promotes creating nutritious meals to meet individuals’ cultural and personal food preferences.
During National Nutrition Month®, the Academy encourages everyone to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits they can follow all year long. This doesn’t have to be boring. There are so many options available in today’s grocery stores; that means there are foods available that are healthful, fun, and fit into your lifestyle. Variety is the spice of life!
So, what are your food-related health goals?
Have you noticed you drink a lot of sugary beverages and want to cut back? There are so many options available, so try some in single servings until you find what you like.
- Do you like carbonation? You could try flavored carbonated water, Stevia sweetened pop, or a diet version of your favorite drink.
- Do you like sweet fruit flavors or citrus? You can pick premade flavored waters or make your own. Try an infusion water bottle and you can switch up flavors daily.
- Do you struggle to give up pop? Work on a more gradual reduction of pop, decreasing by 1 can a week. Try those smaller 7.5 oz cans to reduce portions—you will still be cutting your added sugars in half!
Do you think you need to increase your fiber? Think about the types of grains you use most often. This is the grain you may want to focus on first; it will have the biggest impact.
- If you eat a lot of bread, experiment with different varieties: Some whole-wheat breads have grains and oats on top and some are plain. There are 45-calorie versions of whole wheat bread for those that are concerned with weight loss or want lower carb options. If you have given whole wheat a try and don’t think it works for you, try a mid-range fiber bread like pumpernickel or rye.
- Are you not much of a bread person? Experimenting with things like flatbreads or wraps can be a fun way to mix things up. There are many flavors and whole-grain options available.
- Do you eat more rice? There are quick versions of brown rice in instant form or steamable frozen bags. There is brown jasmine rice and blends of rice and quinoa that are available at local stores.
Do you want to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables? Most often people think they need to eat fresh, but you can eat vegetables in all forms. If choosing canned vegetables you can drain and rinse them or choose “no salt added” for heart-healthy options.
- If you feel like vegetables are bland, you can add seasoning blends to give the flavor of other countries. Italian seasoning and garlic for a taste of Italy, Curry and Turmeric for an Indian flair, Cumin and Cilantro for Spanish flavor, or five spice for Asian-inspired meals.
- If you feel like your household is a bit pickier, you can use a small amount of melted cheese or low-fat ranch dressing to dip them in.
- If you feel like there is no way that you will like vegetables, throw spinach in a smoothie, shred carrots or zucchini into soup or bake them into muffins.
The bottom line is that there are so many options available to you, and with a little recipe searching and getting creative in the kitchen, you can find a way to create a more balanced, nutritious way of eating. If you want help or have more questions, seek the services of a Registered Dietitian.