Making Healthier Choices

On your quest to eat healthier or lose weight, how often have you skipped a substantial breakfast to grab a quick and convenient energy bar? Or, how often do you wonder if that warmed up Weight Watchers meal is actually healthier than frequenting the McDonald's drive-thru? You are faced with seemingly endless food choices every day. You are also faced with a whirlwind of myths and contradictions about, "health foods" that leave you unsure of what foods you should eat. The best way to choose genuinely healthier foods is to become more food aware. Here are some basics every health-conscious eater should know.

woman standing in front of table full of food

KNOWLEDGE IS Power

The main key to healthy living is having all the facts. Get nutrition-savvy by starting with the food pyramid. Read labels to learn serving sizes, determine your daily nutrition requirements and the nutritional content of the foods you eat. Make sure you are receiving the recommended daily food intake that your body needs.

Despite the posits and contradictions of "health foods," going back to basics, eating wholesome and fresh foods, and eating in moderation are really the best strategies for having a healthy diet.

The basics of a healthy diet begin with knowing the food groups, serving sizes and the number of servings you need. The basic food pyramid has changed little since you were a child but it has evolved to become more specific about the types of food to eat, and now it also includes regular exercise as a component of healthy living. Are you smarter than a school kid when it comes to knowing the recommended-daily servings for each group on the food pyramid?

FOOD PYRAMID BASICS

Grains. Foods made from cornmeal, barley, wheat, oats, rice or another cereal grain. Suggested daily servings: 170g

Vegetables. Any vegetable or 100 percent vegetable juice. May be raw, frozen, fresh, canned, cooked, dried or dehydrated, whole, mashed or cut-up. Suggested daily servings: 300g

Fruits. Any fruit or 100 percent fruit juice. May be fresh, whole, canned, dried, frozen, cut-up or pureed. Suggested daily servings: 400g

Milk and other dairy. All fluid milk products and food which are made from milk. Foods made from milk that have little or no calcium, such as butter, cream cheese and cream are not considered part of this group. Suggested daily servings: 750g

Meat and beans [proteins]. All foods made from meat, fish, poultry, peas, eggs, nuts, seeds and dry beans. Suggested daily servings: 160g

Oils. Fats that become liquid at room temperature. Suggested daily servings: Eat sparingly

Correct serving will vary between people. To create a customised diet plan based on your body, or for more information on the food pyramid, visit MyPyramid.gov.

Next: Eating healthy at breakfast

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Tags: health & wellness

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