Essential Food Pyramid Hints
The old adage ‘You are what you eat’ is so very true. To become healthier in all areas of well-being, the most important change you can make to your lifestyle is to stop eating junk and start enjoying super foods! In the business of everyday life, it can be a daunting challenge to maintain healthy nutrition, especially when fast-food and take-outs makes meal preparation so much easier. But, it is not all that difficult to achieve healthier eating habits when you start with the basic knowledge of good nutrition. We all recall the basic food pyramid from our health classes in grade school. Most of us know we need a balance of essentials in the categories of Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Milk and Meats/Beans. With these food groups in mind, make a trip to the grocery store and stock up on the basics for a healthy diet.. Keeping your pantry and refrigerator full of the right foods and making a concerted effort to consume them will empower you with the energy and self-esteem to tackle a physical fitness regimen to your lifestyle!
Grains: 6- 11 servings per day, depending on activity level. Buy whole wheat bread or crackers instead of white bread. Substitute brown rice for white rice. Try whole wheat pastas for a change; some brands actually taste better than the white pasta. Tortillas can be used in making breakfast sandwiches. Just add scrambled eggs and cheese and you hit 3 food groups! Breakfast is very healthy and easy with oatmeal or whole wheat cereal. Even snacking can be nutritious with popcorn or tortilla chips dipped in hummus. Grains provide complex carbohydrates, which are essential in giving your body fuel for energy. Be sure the label reads ‘stoneground whole wheat flour’.
Vegetables: 3-5 servings per day. Eat a wide variety of dark green and orange vegetables. The brighter the color the more beneficial. Planning meals around vegetables such as soups and salads is a sure-fire way to incorporate a healthier diet, and could actually save money. A pot of vegetable soup is economical and can be enjoyed for days. Throw fresh spinach in your salad mix or simply sauté spinach with olive oil, season with parmesan cheese and lemon juice for a super side dish. A vegetable stir-fry can be a complete meal when served over whole grain brown rice. Carrots can be shredded into meatloaf or muffins. Sprinkle cheeses over your vegetables too, getting your diary requirement. Keep raw vegetables at the ready in the frig, making them more tasty with ranch dip or hummus.
Fruits: 2-4 servings per day. Start the day with a piece of fruit added to your whole grain cereal, such as a banana. Or toss in a fistful of frozen blueberries in your oatmeal or on top of your whole wheat pancakes. Apples are an amazing super food, easy to transport and eat on a break. Dried fruit may not sound too appealing, but try dark chocolate covered cherries for a mid afternoon pick-me-up. Amazing and guilt-free snack! Canned fruits are a healthy alternative. Sprinkle pears with cinnamon and a spritz of whipping cream or yogurt to satisfy your craving for dessert. Fruit cobblers count too.
Milk: 2-3 servings per day. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should have 3 servings. Start and end your day with dairy to provide protein, vitamins and minerals. Add low-fat or fat-free milk to your oatmeal and cereal. Drink milk for a nightcap. Yogurt makes an excellent breakfast, mix in 2 tablespoons of ground flax for your grain requirement. Cheese works with every meal. Sprinkled in salads, soups, over vegetables, sliced on sandwiches, even served with fruit for dessert. Cottage cheese mixed with canned pineapple or other fruits is an excellent breakfast. Try to avoid high fat cheese and ice-creams.
Meat/Beans: 2-3 servings per day provides protein, iron and zinc. Use a variety of beans and meat to get your daily requirement. Lean meats are important, such as chicken and fish. Trim away visible fats from poultry and meat. Stay away from frying meats; instead grill, roast or bake. Eat more fish. Tuna for lunch is an easy, healthy substitute to processed lunchmeats. Toss tuna in your salads. Beans are the perfect food, they are full of protein, fiber and economical. With such a huge variety of beans, the possibilities with recipes are endless.