How to eat well–Part 1

I’m here to give you some general tips on eating well. Some of you may need more guidance, or feel the need to tell me that I told you something you already know and looking for the next step and that is excellent. I see the next few posts being a series of posts that build upon each other. The first one here will be the foundation of what you should know to get started. Feel free to comment and I will continue to post ‘parts’ as I get more feed back! So let’s get started:

A good place to start if you are so inclined is ChooseMyPlate.gov You can make a profile for yourself under the SuperTracker, enter in some general information and it will tell you in general what to aim for depending on what your goal is. I like using it when I am analyzing food diary entries of clients I counsel. It tells you everything from how many servings of food groups you need to how much saturated fat/empty calories you consumed in a day. It even calculates the calories burned from exercises for each day, etc.

Grains: Make half your grains whole…or ALL of them. Whole grain bread instead of white or enriched or anything else that does not start with “whole___” (ideally bread with at least 3-4g fiber per slice is ideal); brown rice, whole grain cereals that contain more than 3g fiber per serving, whole grain pasta (adding multigrain first might help a transition into whole grain if you’re not used to it), popcorn (airpopped, add your own toppings), oatmeal…..

Veggies: Vary your veggies. Get lots of colors each day by choosing colorful veggies across the rainbow–red beets, orange peppers, yellow squash, green broccoli, blue carrots, purple eggplant, white cauliflower, etc. This wide variety contain agents that fight and prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, constipation, bone loss, etc. They are full of disease fighting agents, fiber, minerals and vitamins that you may not be able to get naturally in other foods-anything can be fortified but this is the best place to get the real stuff. Also, I would like to remind that you want more veggies than fruit daily.

Fruit: Focus on fruits-especially focusing on whole fruits over juice or pre-packaged in juice or heavy syrup. The whole fruit that contains a peel that you can eat will provide more nutrients across the board, as well as fiber (I’m fiber’s biggest fan–it is a miracle worker). Blueberries, strawberries, oranges and pears are some of my personal favorites. Eat less fruits than veggies each day, but be sure you get something. Fruits contain similar awesomeness as veggies, however, they contain natural sugars. Even though they are natural, they are still sugars and too much is not good for anyone.

Dairy: Get your calcium rich foods. Even if dairy is not a daily thing for you, the main thing to notice in this group is to get enough calcium. I don’t drink milk, so I get my calcium from my daily yogurt, beans, and greens. Some options for common foods that contain calcium are: milk (skim or 1% only if you’re trying to lose weight!), soymilk, low fat/fat free yogurt, low fat cheese, dried beans/peas/lentils (cooked, of course–kidney beans, black beans, chikpeas/garbonzo beans, black eyed peas, etc.), and green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, collard greens, kale, etc). This is absolutely necessary for men and women of all ages to keep bones and teeth healthy!

Protein-foods: Go lean with protein. Previously known as the ‘meat group’ this group goes far beyond meat. Choosing lean cuts of meat is fine as well as lean poultry and fish. Not only animal/fish options there are also beans, peas, nuts and seeds! I don’t personally eat meat anymore, so I rely on fish, edamame, and dry beans more than anything. Ideally if you can get your meat grass-fed/organic, that would be best. Knowing that it is an expensive option, eating wild fish (not farm raised), along with beans/seeds, you can find cheaper yet still healthy alternatives out there. This is a controversial group for me. I can provide more information on why I only eat fish and plants in greater detail seperately if you so desire.

Limiting fat, sugar and salt daily is also needed for weight loss and overall healthy eating. In the long run, if you are following the steps above, there should not be much added fat or sugar to your foods-especially if you are not eating out of the frozen section or pre-packaged, shelf-stable “foods”. Also, I next to never cook with salt. It’s almost never on the kitchen table. There are so many ways through herbs and spices to cook without salt and still have an absolutely delicious meal. I will definitely be posting more on this in the future.

Due to the abundance of information I could share with you–there is no way to get it all in this post. Working a full time job and trying not to go off on a tangent about one particular thing are the best reasons for you to look for the next blog post in the coming days to help with healthy eating and weight loss. Don’t forget to comment with your feedback or other suggestions for blog posts that you want more information about!

Til next time my healthy friends…

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About laurenfaye

I am a dietitian in the New Orleans area currently working at 2 clinics counseling women, infants and children. I received my Human Nutrition Bachelors Degree with a minor in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and completed my dietetic internship practice through Tulane University. I love food: the way it tastes, the way it looks, and the science behind it. I originally started this blog to give myself practice on writing about food. However, since becoming a dietitian full time I have decided to expand it a little further to cover other things I am passionate about as well. I am a retired Irish Dance Instructor since co-founding the Triallta Irish Dance Company. I am also versed in ballet, tap, belly dance, swing dance and acrobatics. I love fitness, learning and love meeting new people.
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