Here are the key take-home messages provided by the USDA, and some tips for making it easy.
- Enjoy your food, but eat less. When eating at home, serve meals on smaller plates. It's an easy trick that help control your portion sizes and calorie intake.
- Avoid oversized portions. Restaurant portions are almost always oversized -- when eating out, divide your meal in half when it comes to the table. Take the second half home for tomorrow's leftovers -- this is a great way to save money, too!
Foods to Increase:
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Rather than planning your meal around meat as the central component, showcase your favorite fruits and vegetables in a large salad.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains. Check the ingredients list for "whole grain" or "whole wheat" -- it should be the first ingredient listed.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk. These dairy products have all the nutrients of regular milk, minus all the fat.
Foods to Reduce:
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals -- and choose the foods with lower numbers. USDA's 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggest reducing daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg for the general population, and less than 1,500 mg for the following groups: those who are 51 and older, African Americans, and anyone with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Sugary drinks like soda are simply empty calories with no nutritional benefit. Stay hydrated with water or, when drinking juice, look for "100% fruit juice" or "no added sugar."
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