Dedicate yourself to a healthy lifestyle in 2014 with these food, nutrition and exercise tips.
- Eat Breakfast
There’s no better way to start your morning—and the year—than with a healthy breakfast. The key to a good breakfast is balance. Include lean protein, whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Try oatmeal cooked with low-fat milk, sliced almonds and berries, or crust-less quiche with mixed veggies, low-fat cheese and a slice of whole wheat toast.
- Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber to your plate. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal. Don’t let winter stop you from enjoying produce. It might be harder to find fresh options, but frozen and canned are great alternatives. See 20 ways to enjoy more fruits and vegetables.
- Watch Portion Sizes
Do you know if you’re eating the proper portion size? Get out the measuring cups and see how close your portions are to the recommended serving size. Using smaller plates, bowls and glasses can help you keep portions under control. Use half of your plate for vegetables, a quarter for grains, and a quarter for lean meat or protein. To complete the meal, add a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk and a serving of fruit for dessert. See ways to shave calories.
- Be Active
Regular physical activity lowers blood pressure and helps your body control stress and weight. Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults should get two hours and 30 minutes per week. You don’t have to hit the gym—take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball.
- Fix Healthy Snacks
Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals. Whenever possible, make your snacks combination snacks, including lean protein, healthy fats, fiber or carbohydrates. Try low-fat yogurt with fruit, whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese, or a small portion of nuts with an apple or banana.
- Get to Know Food Labels
Ever wonder about the difference between “reduced fat” and “low fat?” Or does “calorie free” on a label really mean no calories? The Food and Drug Administration has strict guidelines on how these food label terms can be used. Here are some of the most common claims seen on food packages and what they mean.
- Consult an RD
Whether you want to lose weight, lower your cholesterol or simply eat better, consult the experts! Registered dietitians can help you by providing sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice and put you on the path to losing weight, eating well and reducing your risk of chronic disease. Learn more about RDs.
- Follow Food Safety Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly one in six Americans gets sick from foodborne disease each year. Reduce your chances of getting sick by practicing proper hand washing. Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from ready-to-eat foods like bread and vegetables. Use a food thermometer to make sure food is properly cooked. Refrigerate food quickly at a proper temperature to slow bacteria growth. Learn more about home food safety.
- Get Cooking
Cooking at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. Resolve to learn some cooking and kitchen basics, like how to dice an onion or how to store herbs and spices. This collection of How Do I… videos will get you started.
- Dine Out without Ditching Your Goals
You can dine at a restaurant and stick to your healthy eating plan! The key is to plan ahead, ask questions and choose foods carefully. Think about nutritious items you can add to your plate—fruits, veggies, lean meat, poultry or fish—and look for grilled, baked, broiled or steamed items. See more tips on dining out.
- Enact Family Meal Time
Research shows that family meals promote healthier eating. Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week in 2014. Set a regular mealtime. Turn off the TV, phones and other electronic devices to encourage mealtime talk. Get kids involved in meal planning and cooking, and use this time to teach them about good nutrition. For more family mealtime tips, visit Kids Eat Right.
- Banish Brown Bag Boredom
While it’s important to send your children to school with a healthy lunch packed with the nutrition they need to learn, grow and play, it’s also important that they eat it. To ensure that your children’s nutritious meal doesn’t go to waste, you can encourage interest and appetites with a few of these lunch tips.
- Drink More Water
Our bodies depend on water to regulate temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen to cells, carry away waste products and more. For generally healthy people who live in temperate climates, the Dietary Reference Intakes from the Institute of Medicine recommend a total daily beverage intake of 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women.
Reviewed December 2012