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Be Well - Healthier Daily Nutrition Choices

By Joani Pfeiffer RD,CDCES Diabetes Education Program and Food Nutrition Services 

Eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity are key strategies to stay healthy and reduce the chance of developing many diseases. Having excess weight is a risk factor for many diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, several cancers and more.

1. Enjoy your food but eat less. Take time to fully enjoy what you are eating. This is called mindful eating. Sometimes just a slight adjustment in the type of food or amount can make a significant difference over the long haul. For example, by just reducing your daily intake by around 250 calories, you could potentially save 1,750 calories per week. If you can stick to this, you could lose over 25 pounds per year!

Be Well - Healthier Daily Nutrition Choices

2. Dedicate half your plate at meals to vegetables. Aim for adding fresh or frozen veggies to each meal. Add a small serving of a colorful, high-fiber fruit a few times per day to replace higher calorie sweets. Fruits and vegetables offer important vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Most have little fat and no cholesterol. They also contain fiber to help with digestion and prevent constipation. Research shows that eating a diet high in vegetables and some fruits may help lower cholesterol and blood sugar and prevent heart disease – the brighter the color, the better.

3. Foods made from whole grains are a major source of energy and fiber. Learn to read food labels so you can identify which grains are truly whole grains. Ingredients are listed in order of their contents. If you see enriched flour, this is a product that is not whole grain.

4. Select leaner sources of protein and try to use more plant-based proteins in your meals and recipes. Protein foods include animal sources (meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products) and plant sources (beans, peas, soy products, nuts, seeds). Aim for fresh vs. processed meats, which contain not only significant amounts of sodium, but also generally contain many unwanted chemicals. Try cooking up a pot of beans to have available for a quick meal or snack. 5. Rethink your drink. Drink primarily water, instead of sugary and other high-calorie drinks. Soda, sweetened juice, energy drinks and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in many American diets. One can of soda, for example, is approximately 250 calories and contains around 28 grams or one ounce of sugar.

For more Be Well resources visit Be Well | Skagit Regional Health.