Food is meant to be enjoyed, but eating less is the key to weight management and disease prevention, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. During National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) encourages everyone to “Get Your Plate in Shape.”
“One way to accomplish this is by eating the foods you enjoy while being mindful of portion sizes and total calories,” says registered dietitian and Academy Spokesperson Marjorie Nolan.
Nolan offers simple and practical ways to eat fewer calories while savoring and enjoying in your food:
- Be mindful of your daily calorie needs. When planning your meals and snacks throughout the day, keep your calorie needs in mind. “A simple way to do this is to think about the portions on your plate,” Nolan says. “Divide your plate in four sections with one each for whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, and a side of dairy, such as a cup of low-fat milk or yogurt or an ounce of cheese.”
- Avoid oversized portions by using smaller plates, bowls and glasses. “The standard 10-inch plate may be too large for you. Switch to 8-inch or appetizer-sized plates and you will automatically eat less without feeling deprived,” says Nolan. Fill your plate with nutrient-dense, lower-calorie foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein foods.
- Get in charge of what you’re eating. Cooking more often at home not only allows you to balance what’s on your plate, but also enables you to choose healthier fats, less sodium and increase the fiber in your diet while balancing the amount of calories you eat. “Then, when you eat out, you’ll be more apt to recognize healthy portion sizes based on your experiences at home.
- Watch out for liquid calories. The calories in fruit juices and drinks with added sugar, sports drinks, sugar-laden coffee beverages and soft drinks can add up fast. Also, think before you drink alcoholic beverages as they have calories too. Remember to drink alcohol sensibly by capping it with one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men.
- Log in. “Food logging can be a great tool for keeping track of the foods you eat and ensuring you stay in your calorie limit,” Nolan says. “By having awareness of everything you eat and drink, you’ll be more apt to stick within your healthy calorie range. Write down what you’re eating throughout the day so that it’s not such a big task to tackle at one time in the day, or use the USDA’s Super Tracker, available at https://www.choosemyplate.gov/SuperTracker/detecttimezone.aspx, which helps plan, analyze and track your diet and physical activity. You’ll likely eat less and savor your food more.”
To learn more about nutrition guidance for healthy living, contact the Nutrition Care Division at Weed Army Community Hospital, 760-380-3176.