For many of us, the New Year is a time to start fresh. Most of us want to improve our health, and there are plenty of diets out there that want to “help” us do that. BUT diets that eliminate certain food groups like carbohydrates and fat are out of balance and keep us from getting all the nutrients that we need to stay healthy. Our bodies need a complete and balanced diet with carbohydrates, protein, and fat in order to perform well. In order to get these nutrients, in the right amount, we need to eat foods from all of the food groups (protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy). Make 2020 a year of balanced eating by choosing a diet that is made up of a variety of foods from all the food groups and is low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.
This may seem like a lot to do at once, but it doesn’t have to happen overnight! In fact, the key to making lifelong habits is to start with small habits that will put you on the path to reaching your goal. The best way to balance your diet is to start with 2-3 small changes you would like to make to the way you eat. Making a few small changes is doable and is more likely to become a healthy habit. After you succeed at these small changes, you will gain the confidence to make more changes that get you closer to the goal of balanced eating.
Tips to Balance Your Diet
Here is a list of tips that we use at ONIE to help us eat a balanced diet all year long! Choose a few that seem doable and you’ll be on your way to a healthier you!
- Don’t bring it inside: When shopping, try the “Don’t bring it inside” technique. Foods such as cookies and chips are tempting, especially when we are hungry, so leave them at the store!
- Keep healthy snacks on hand: Make the healthy option the easy option. Fruits, veggies, and unsalted nuts are a great swap for chips, crackers, and cookies. Think ahead and carry a small bag of healthy snacks in your pocket or purse so you don’t reach for the cookies or chips from the vending machine.
- Choose combo snacks: Try to have a combination of protein, carbohydrate and fat for a boost of energy and to help satisfy your hunger until the next meal. Here are some ideas:
- whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese
- apple slices with peanut butter
- peaches with low-fat cottage cheese
- Start the day with a healthy breakfast: It doesn’t have to be complicated, just try to get a few food groups in each meal. This Banana Berry Parfait will fuel your morning and takes less than 10 minutes to make! It uses non-fat Greek yogurt (protein and dairy), frozen or fresh fruit, and granola (grain).
Or for weekend mornings when you have more time, treat your family with this Garden Veggie Frittata. It combines eggs (protein), fresh vegetables, milk and cheese (dairy). You can use whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand.
- Pack your lunch: It can be as simple as last night’s leftovers or a sandwich on whole-wheat bread. Not only is this healthier than eating out but it saves money too! Casseroles are a great way to make extra food that can be eaten multiple times a week. You can prepare this Fiesta Casserole for dinner in 30 minutes and take the leftovers for lunch!
These Curried Egg Salad and Cucumber Sandwiches provide protein and dairy (eggs, non-fat Greek yogurt), grains (whole wheat bread), and fruit and vegetables (raisins, cucumber, romaine lettuce). The best part is you can prepare the egg salad ahead of time and assemble your sandwich right before you eat.
- Choose water: Swap soda, sweet tea, sweetened coffee, energy drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages for water! This will keep you hydrated and less likely to snack on less healthy treats in between meals.
- Check your plate: Is half of your plate fruits and veggies? Choose your favorites to add color to your plate and vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your diet!
Try to incorporate 2 of these tips to balance your diet and add more as the year continues. One success will lead to another and before you know it, you will be eating a healthy and balanced diet in 2020! For more healthy tips and recipes check out our healthy living and recipes pages at https://onieproject.org/home/.