It’s important to make smart food choices and watch portion sizes wherever you are–at the grocery store, at work, in your favorite restaurant, or running errands.
Try these tips
At the store, plan ahead by buying a variety of nutrient-rich foods for meals and snacks throughout the week. When grabbing lunch, have a sandwich on whole-grain bread and choose low-fat or fat-free milk, water, or other drinks without added sugars. In a restaurant, opt for steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sautï¿½ed. On a long commute or shopping trip, pack some fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, string cheese sticks, or a handful of unsalted nuts to help you avoid impulsive, less healthful snack choices. Source: Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Department of Agriculture
Mix Up Your Choices Within Each Food Group Focus on fruits. Eat a variety of fruits–whether fresh, frozen, canned, or dried–rather than fruit juice for most of your fruit choices. For a 2,000-calorie diet, you will need 2 cups of fruit each day (for example, 1 small banana, 1 large orange, and 1/4 cup of dried apricots or peaches).
Vary your veggies. Eat more dark green veggies, such as broccoli, kale, or other dark leafy greens; orange veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash; and beans and peas, such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, split peas, and lentils.
Get your calcium-rich foods. Get 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk–or an equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese (1 1/2 ounces of cheese equals 1 cup of milk)–every day. For kids ages 2 to 8, it’s 2 cups of milk. If you don’t or can’t consume milk, choose lactose-free milk products and/or calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
Make half your grains whole. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta every day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta. Look to see that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are referred to as “whole” in the list of ingredients.
Go lean with protein. Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake it, broil it, or grill it. And vary your protein choices–with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.
Know the limits on fats, salt, sugars. Read the Nutrition Facts label on foods. Look for foods low in saturated fats and trans fats. Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little salt (sodium) and/or added sugars (caloric sweeteners.)