Smart Choices in Nutrition
Eating healthy, regular meals is a choice that one needs to start making as soon as possible. Similar to other good habits, the later one starts learning it, the more difficult it may become to eat well. So the question is: how much of each of the food categories is enough? Here is a simple guideline:
Eat at least 2½ cups of fruits and vegetables per day. If you can eat more than that, go for it.
Eat at least 3 ounces of whole grain (3 pieces of bread) or 6 ounces of other grain products.
Eat at least 3 cups of dairy products/substitutes per day. If you can, use fat-free varieties.
Proteins are important too! Try poultry instead of red meat. If seafood is available, definitely go for it instead (try to reach 1 ounce per day on average). Beans, peas, nuts, and soy are also excellent!
Oils are important to our bodies, but we usually consume too much of them. Try to avoid trans fats and saturated fats (including mayonnaise, butter, and cream cheese). Olive oil is usually recommended. On a side note, avoiding cholesterol is important as well for cardiovascular health.
Sodium should be kept below 2000 mg per day. Avoid adding salt to cooked food. Try to consume more potassium to reduce the impact of sodium, such as from potatoes, bananas, and beans. Excessive sugar is also not a good choice. Replace sugary beverages with milk, tea, or water.
If you find these numbers a bit too complicated, here is a good solution for lunch and dinner. Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits, one quarter of it with grains, and the other quarter with proteins. For breakfast, start your day with a powerful protein (such as an egg or a container of low-fat yogurt), whole grains (such as whole-grain bread or oatmeal), and vegetables/fruits (such as chopped vegetables in omelet or an apple). For each meal, try to have a cup of dairy as well. Use your creativity!