Choosing from all the food groups will not guarantee a balanced diet. Here are six tips to help you eat your way to better health.
Tip 1: Manage portion size
People of different ages, genders, and activity levels need different amounts of food, but many people take in more energy than they use. The AHA explain that a portion is what we choose to eat, while a serving is the amount of food listed on the nutrition facts label. Examples of servings are one slice of bread and one wedge of melon. Paying attention to what a serving is, how many calories are in a serving, and how much you are eating can make the difference between obesity and maintaining a healthy weight.
Tip 2: Eat fresh and avoid processed food
Fresh foods offer more nutrients and fewer additives. Fresh foods are more likely to be “nutrient rich,” while processed foods are often “energy-rich,” with added fats and sugars. Whole foods, such as fresh fruit, are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Processed foods not only contain added ingredients, including dyes and preservatives, but the processing itself can destroy nutrients. Some processed foods contain little nutritional value. Consuming a high proportion of processed foods can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Tip 3: Limit added sugars
Naturally occurring sugars include fructose, found in fruit, and lactose, in dairy products. Adding sugar to foods and drinks enhances the flavor but adds little or no nutritional value.
Replacing sweetened sodas with sparkling water and drinking alcohol in moderation can further reduce excess calories. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Tip 4: Replace animal fats in the diet
Animal produce is often high in saturated fats. These are difficult for the body to break down, so levels of harmful cholesterol in the body can rise, potentially leading to heart disease. Unsaturated fats are found in oily fish and nuts, and these are more health, taken in moderation.