Take charge of your health by maintaining a balanced diet.
No single food provides all the nutrients needed for good health, so it’s important to eat a variety of foods for different vitamins and nutrients.
WHAT’S ON YOUR PLATE?
VEGETABLES: Eat 2 1/2 cups every day. Fresh, frozen, and canned veggies all count, but choose “reduced sodium” or “no-salt-added” canned vegetables.
FRUITS: Eat 2 every day. At breakfast, try bananas or strawberries on top of your cereal. Choose 100% fruit juice when picking out juice.
GRAINS: Eat 6 ounces every day. Make at least half of your grains whole grains. Check the ingredients list and look for the word “whole” before the first ingredient.
DAIRY: Get 3 cups every day. Choose skim or 1% milk in order to get the same amount of nutrients, but with less fat and calories. If you’re lactose intolerant, switch to lactose-free milk or fortified soymilk (soy beverage).
PROTEIN FOODS: Eat a variety of seafood, beans, peas and nuts in addition to lean meats, poultry and eggs. Trim or drain fat from meat and remove skin from poultry to cut fat and calories.
The Balancing Game
The key to balance is making informed decisions. Choosing healthy foods for each meal isn’t always easy, so it’s important to balance your meals. For example, if you have a high-fat lunch with lots of meat, go for a dinner that is lower in fat and contains generous amounts of vegetables. Another key to the balancing act is choosing nutritionally dense foods. They contain high amounts of essential nutrients, will fill you up longer and provide healthy energy.
These include foods like:
- Lean meat, skinless poultry and tofu
- Fruits like strawberries, papaya, mango and watermelon
- Vegetables like spinach and carrots
- Whole grain bread and brown rice
- Low-fat milk
Don’t Forget to Fuel Up
Try to eat three main meals or several small meals throughout the day. Giving your body nutrients in this way helps regulate blood sugar levels better through the day. Plus, when you fuel your body regularly, you will have peak energy levels and no mid-day fatigue. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day will keep you hydrated and full.
Source: Reprinted from "Mind Your Body", The Straits Times, August 20, 2009.