A healthy lifestyle involves many choices. Among them, choosing a balanced diet or healthy eating plan. So how do you choose a healthy eating plan? Let’s begin by defining what a healthy eating plan is.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015—2020, a healthy eating plan:
- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
- Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars
- Stays within your daily calorie needs
A healthy eating plan that helps you manage your weight includes a variety of foods you may not have considered. If “healthy eatingâ€ makes you think about the foods you can’t have, try refocusing on all the new foods you can eat:
- Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits–don’t think just apples or bananas. All fresh, frozen, or canned fruits are great choices. Be sure to try some “exoticâ€ fruits, too. How about a mango? Or a juicy pineapple or kiwi fruit! When your favorite fresh fruits aren’t in season, try a frozen, canned, or dried variety of a fresh fruit you enjoy. One caution about canned fruits is that they may contain added sugars or syrups. Be sure to choose canned varieties of fruit packed in water or in their own juice.
- Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetablesâ€•try something new. You may find that you love grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables with a herb you haven’t tried like rosemary. You can sautÃ© vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish–just microwave and serve. When trying canned vegetables, look for vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces. Commit to going to the produce department and trying a new vegetable each week.
- Calcium-rich foodsâ€•you may automatically think of a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk when someone says “eat more dairy products.â€ But what about low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars? These come in a wide variety of flavors and can be a great dessert substitute for those with a sweet tooth.
- A new twist on an old favoriteâ€•if your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling. Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories; you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish!
Black Health Matters (BHM) is the leading patient and consumer-focused health information website for African Americans. BHM connects health information seekers to the highest quality health content on the web, shared via social media and disseminated at BHM community-based health events. Committed to making African American families healthier, BHM imparts expert advice on disease management while promoting healthier lifestyles. The result is a compelling health content experience that resonates within the cultural context of the user’s life.