March is National Nutrition Month, a campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year’s theme is Eat Right, Bite by Bite.
The first “bite” is knowing portion sizes. Use common items to help guide your portion sizes:
- Baseball or fist = 1 cup salad greens or cereal
- Deck of cards = 3 ounces of meat, fish, or poultry
- Four stacked dice = 1 1/2 ounces of cheese
- One die = 1 teaspoon of margarine or spread
- Ping pong ball = 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Do you like to bake breads, muffins, or cookies? Another “bite” to consider is increasing your whole grain intake. Simply substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour. Start by substituting one-fourth of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, then one-half, three-fourths, and possibly all!
Another “bite” to consider? Replace some or all of the oil in breads, muffins, or cookies with fruit canned in 100% juice. This will help limit fat intake. Pureed fruit, like applesauce, works best. Use the same approach as the whole wheat flour—start by substituting one-fourth of the oil with fruit and work up to one-half or three-fourths.
Small changes do have a positive effect on your health, and every little “bite” is a step in the right direction!
Eat Right (www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month)
National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute (www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/servingcard7.pdf)
You’ve probably heard it before: Eat more fiber! Do you know why fiber is so good for your health? Eating an adequate amount of fiber will lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and constipation. What a package deal!
Current recommendations suggest that we consume at least 20 grams of dietary fiber per day from food, not supplements. The more calories you eat each day, the more fiber you need; teens and men may require 30 to 35 grams per day or more. Eating a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits will usually provide most of the fiber you’ll need.
Here are some tips for choosing high fiber foods:
- Go with whole. Whole fruits are packed with more fiber and a lot fewer calories than their juice counterparts. Choose whole grains, such as whole wheat or whole oats. Select grain products that have a whole grain listed as the first ingredient–typically found just below the nutrition facts panel. Breads, cereals, crackers, and other grain foods should have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
- Break the fast with fruit. Get off to a great start by adding fruit, like berries or melon, to your breakfast every day.
- Eat more dried beans. It’s easy to forget about beans, but they’re a great tasting, inexpensive source of fiber that also provides protein and other important nutrients.
- Try a new dish. Test new recipes that use whole grains, like tabouli, cooked barley, dried beans, or lentils.