By Rita Larsen, RD; Elite Sports Clubs Dietitian and Nutrition Counselor
You should enjoy your diet! Believe it or not, nutrient-rich foods are familiar, easy to find, and represent the five basic food groups, therefore achieving balance and building a healthier diet can be simple and stress-free!
Start by selecting nutrient-rich foods and beverages as an easy way to make better choices within your daily eating plan. Choose first among the basic food groups:
- Brightly colored fruits and 100 percent fruit juice
- Vibrantly colored vegetables including potatoes
- Whole-grain, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods
- Low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt
- Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts
Here are some practical ways for you to add nutrient-rich foods and beverages to your daily diet:
- Make creamier oatmeal by adding fat-free milk instead of water. Mix in some raisins, dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries too.
- Make sandwiches on whole-grain bread, such as whole wheat or whole rye. Add slices of avocado, tomato or cucumber to fillings like lean roast beef, ham, turkey or chicken.
- Whole-wheat macaroni and cheese is a great way to enjoy a whole-grain food with a serving of dairy.
- When eating out, look for nutrient-rich choices such as entrée salads with grilled seafood and low-calorie dressing, baked potatoes topped with salsa, grilled vegetables and reduced-fat cheese and yogurt parfaits made with strawberries and blueberries.
- Choose nutrient-rich beverages such as low-fat or fat-free plain or flavored milk or 100-percent fruit juice.
- Top foods with chopped nuts or reduced-fat shredded sharp cheese to get crunch, flavor and nutrients from the first bite.
- Spend a few minutes to cut and bag vegetables so they are in easy reach of every family member: ready-to-eat favorites like red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower flowerets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes. Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner.
- Serve meals that pack multiple nutrient-rich foods into one dish, like hearty, broth-based soups that are full of colorful vegetables, beans and lean meat. Make chili with a dollop of low-fat yogurt. Serve these with whole-grain breads or rolls.
- For dessert, enjoy a tropical treat by blending mango, plain low-fat milk, ice and a splash of pineapple juice. Stir chocolate syrup into a cup of coffee-flavored yogurt, freeze and enjoy.
By following these simple guidelines, you will be able to pack every one of your meals and snacks with nutrient-rich foods to help you lose those extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight!
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Rita makes eating a well-rounded, nutritional diet sound easy! But if you are like most of us and still need a little help, get started with an assessment today!
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.