9 Tips to a Healthy Plate

1. Eat the right number of calories. Find out how many calories you need for a day as a first step in managing your weight. There are numerous websites available that provide a free calculator to determine your calories needs. Note that this is just a beginning step as people at different metabolism rates and your calorie needs may be more or less than that which was determined by the calculator.

2. Slow down and enjoy your food. Many times we rush through our meal without taking the time to enjoy the flavors. Eating too fast can lead to overeating as we mindlessly consume the food. Slowing down also allows us to notice fullness cues during and after meals.

3. Avoid oversized portions. Over the years our foods have become larger. Many bagels have doubled in size and a single patty hamburger has been replace by the three patty burger with two slices of cheese. One way to consume less is to use smaller plates, bowls, and glasses. When eating out choose smaller portions or decide to put half the meal in a carry out container before you start eating.

4. Eat healthier foods more often. Make vegetables, fruits, and fat-free or 1% milk and dairy products the core part of your meal. choose snacks that are high in fiber and low in saturated fat. String cheese, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and whole grains are good snack choices.

5. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Choose a variety of vegetable colors for your meal: red tomatoes, orange sweet potatoes, and dark green spinach, along with other vegetables should take up half your plate. If you usually eat a dessert after a meal, make it a fruit.

6. Get your calcium from fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk and cheeses. They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk products, but fewer calories and less saturated fat. You can also try almond milk as a healthy substitute.

7. Make your grains whole grains. Substitute whole-grain products for refined, white flour products. Eat whole wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice or whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta.

8. Eat sweets and high fat foods less often. Sweets include foods like cakes, cookies, ice cream, candies, and sweetened drinks. High fat foods are pizza, fried chicken, and fatty meats like ribs, sausages, bacon, and hot dogs. These foods should be eaten in smaller portions and as an occasional treat or splurge.

9. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened, non-carbonated beverages. Sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices and sports drinks contain unneeded added sugar and calories.

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