10 Tips to Build a Healthy Meal

nci-vol-2397-300The Lake County General Health District visited the Mentor Library last week to explain the differences between various diets and help people pick the best diet for themselves.

Here are 10 tips they shared for building healthy meals:

1. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables

To make sure you get as many nutrients as possible, vary the color palette of your fruits and veggies. Opt for red, orange and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli.

2. Pick lean protein

Chicken, turkey, seafood, beans and tofu are all good ways to get lean protein. You can still eat beef and pork too. Just get a lean cut.

3. Don’t forget whole grains

Whole grains provide more fiber than refined grains, so look for words like “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” on the label.

4. Include dairy

Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same essential nutrients as whole milk with less fat and fewer calories. If you don’t drink milk, try fat-free or low-fat yogurt or soymilk.

5. Excise the extra fat

Heavy gravies and sauces may taste delicious, but they’re an easy way to make a healthy food unhealthy. For example: steamed broccoli, good for you; steamed broccoli covered in a mountain of melted cheese, not so good for you. Try a squeeze of lemon or a sprinkle of low-fat Parmesan, instead.

6. Take your time

Eating slowly allows you to actually appreciate what you’re tasting. Plus it gives your stomach time to catch up to your mouth so you don’t overeat.

7. Use a smaller plate

This psychological trick helps with portion control. You’ll feel satisfied without overeating.

8. Be mindful of what you’re eating

If you cook yourself, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating and how healthy (or unhealthy) it is. If you’re going to eat out, do a little research beforehand. Try to get nutrition information and don’t be afraid to ask for a healthier substitution. (For example, switch in a salad for those french fries.)

9. Try new foods

Any diet can get monotonous if you don’t switch things up occasionally. Try something you’ve never eaten before—mango, kale, lentils. You may discover a new favorite.

10. Find a healthier way to indulge your sweet tooth

If you’re craving dessert, try something naturally sweet instead like a fruit. You can make a parfait with low-fat yogurt or bake apples and top them with cinnamon.

The LCGHD will return to the Mentor Public Library on Wednesday, August 6, to talk about MyPlate, the USDA’s visual guide to healthy eatingYou can register for the free talk here.

Click here for more tips on how to eat and live healthy from the Lake County General Health District.

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