Step Up! To Good Nutrition
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, and 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 (1½ ounces of cheese equals 1 cup of milk)—every day. For kids aged 2 to 8, its 2 cups of milk. If you do not or cannot 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 ½ 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.
Whether you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, it is important to understand the connection between the calories your body takes in (through the foods you eat and the beverages you drink) and the calories your body uses (through normal body functions, daily activities, and physical activity).
There is a right number of calories for you to eat each day. This number depends on your age, activity level, and whether you are trying to gain, maintain, or lose weight. You could use up the entire amount on a few high-calorie foods, but chances are, you wont get the full range of vitamins and nutrients your body needs to be healthy.
Eat healthy by including a variety of complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber in your daily diet. Whole grains, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, nuts, dry beans and peas are all good sources.
- Choose foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Avoid Trans fat.
- Limit alcoholic drinks.
- Choose foods that are low in sodium and sugar.
- Make sure to drink 8-10 glasses of water each day.