Make sure you're following an eating plan that's right for you. Nutritional requirements vary depending on your age, sex, size, activity level and weight goals. You may never have thought about talking to a nutritionist, but consider scheduling a one-time consultation to get a personalized evaluation and recommendation. Another way to get a basic understanding of what foods you may be getting too much or too little of is by visiting the USDA's website ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Protein delivers essential amino acids to our cells, helps to maintain and repair muscles and gives our bodies what they need to grow. Poultry, lean beef, eggs, fish and beans are all excellent choices for protein. Try to include a protein at each meal — especially breakfast. Eating a protein-rich breakfast has been shown to reduce hunger throughout the day, helping you maintain a healthy weight by not over-indulging.
Eating whole grains is an easy way to add fiber, vitamins and minerals to your diet. Plus, studies have shown that whole grains may help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. Try to work whole grains into all of your meals. Try steel-cut oatmeal at breakfast topped with chopped nuts and fresh fruit. For lunch eat a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole grain bread, and for dinner, go for variety — experiment with dishes including quinoa, farro and barley.
Find out where your local farmers market is, and take advantage of fresh, flavorful produce that's not only delicious, but often much healthier than the flavorless produce that has been sprayed with chemicals and trucked or flown thousands of miles to get to the grocery store. Not convinced it's worth the effort and expense? Watch the documentary Food Fight and see how the American agricultural industry has evolved and why the local food movement continues to gain support. Or just take a bite of a farm-fresh carrot and taste the difference.
Make sure you're meeting your recommended daily dairy requirement of three cups a day. Choose low-fat or non-fat cottage cheese, yogurt, milk or cheese. Don't make the mistake of thinking that cream cheese on your bagel or cream in your coffee counts as a dairy serving. These aren't even part of the dairy group since they contain no calcium. Beware of hidden sugars in flavored yogurt. Choose cheese and butter made from grass-fed cows such as New Zealand Grass-fed Cheddar and Kerrygold butter.
As you choose which foods to eat as part of your healthy diet, remember to keep things interesting. Try new foods, experiment with different recipes and enjoy the journey to good health!
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