Koslo's Nutrition Solutions

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Get Your Plate in Shape!

Get Your Plate in Shape!

National Nutrition Month© kicks off on March 1st and this year’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape.” This annual event is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound, lifelong eating and physical activity habits. The key messages from the Academy are:

· Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables: Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange varieties. Add fresh, dried, frozen or canned fruits to meals and snacks.

· Make at least half your grains whole: Choose 100 percent whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.

· Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk: Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories. For those who are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.

· Vary your protein choices: Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs. Keep meat and poultry portions small and lean. And be sure to choose seafood as the protein at least twice a week.

· Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars: Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers, and season your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. Switch from solid fats to healthy oils like olive and canola oil. Replace sugary drinks with water and choose fruit for dessert.

· Enjoy your foods but eat less: Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Cook more often at home where you are in control of what’s in your food. When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options.

· Be physically active your way: Adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of physical activity every week. Choose activities that you enjoy, and start by doing as much as you can.

Now after reading through the list you may be thinking “tell me something I don’t already know.” And my response is: right now, how would you honestly rate your plate at each meal and snack? That means at breakfast, lunch, dinner, pre- and post-workout snacks and everything in between on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being too bad to discuss and 10 being darn near perfect. I mean honestly. You don’t have to tell me just think about it and then think about rating each day of the week for the last week. Are you consistent? Are you paying attention to details? Most folks are looking to manage their weight, fuel their activity and still be able to get enjoyment out of their food choices. If you have hit a weight plateau recently I would suggest that you rate your plate and then think about getting it in shape. It takes just an extra 100 calories per day to add up to a 10 pound weight gain in one year. WOW! As you rate your plate ask yourself: Do you plan out your meals and snacks each day? Do you balance your plate with variety and color? Do you focus on your food when you are eating or are you multi-tasking? Do you listen to your bodies hunger and fullness signals? Are you getting plenty of fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains? Are you starting your meals with low calorie foods like low-sodium broth, fruits and vegetables? How is that sodium level? Do you know what your sodium intake should be? (hint: 2300 mg/d). See what you come up with for answers and then look again at the list and see if you can incorporate one or more of the suggestions. Healthy eating and physical activity habits are a result of a life of educating yourself on how to make the best choices for health. As one final homework assignment, make one of your goals this month to increase the potassium rich foods in your diet which can offset some of the effects of too much sodium. Think bananas, sweet potatoes, cherries, cantaloupe, tomato juice, beans, milk, avocados, cocoa powder and chocolate (see previous post), dried fruits, seeds, nuts, molasses, orange juice, coconut water, ….okay I think you get the picture!

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