You should enjoy your diet! Believe it or not, nutrient-rich foods are familiar, easy to find, and represent the five basic food groups, therefore achieving balance and building a healthier diet can be simple and stress-free!
Start by selecting nutrient-rich foods and beverages as an easy way to make better choices within your daily eating plan. Choose first among the basic food groups:
- Brightly colored fruits and 100 percent fruit juice
- Vibrantly colored vegetables including potatoes
- Whole-grain, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods
- Low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt
- Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts
Here are some practical ways for you to add nutrient-rich foods and beverages to your daily diet:
- Make creamier oatmeal by adding fat-free milk instead of water. Mix in some raisins, dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries too.
- Make sandwiches on whole-grain bread, such as whole wheat or whole rye. Add slices of avocado, tomato or cucumber to fillings like lean roast beef, ham, turkey or chicken.
- Whole-wheat macaroni and cheese is a great way to enjoy a whole-grain food with a serving of dairy.
- When eating out, look for nutrient-rich choices such as entrée salads with grilled seafood and low-calorie dressing, baked potatoes topped with salsa, grilled vegetables and reduced-fat cheese and yogurt parfaits made with strawberries and blueberries.
- Choose nutrient-rich beverages such as low-fat or fat-free plain or flavored milk or 100-percent fruit juice.
- Top foods with chopped nuts or reduced-fat shredded sharp cheese to get crunch, flavor and nutrients from the first bite.
- Spend a few minutes to cut and bag vegetables so they are in easy reach of every family member: ready-to-eat favorites like red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower flowerets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes. Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner.
- Serve meals that pack multiple nutrient-rich foods into one dish, like hearty, broth-based soups that are full of colorful vegetables, beans and lean meat. Make chili with a dollop of low-fat yogurt. Serve these with whole-grain breads or rolls.
- For dessert, enjoy a tropical treat by blending mango, plain low-fat milk, ice and a splash of pineapple juice. Stir chocolate syrup into a cup of coffee-flavored yogurt, freeze and enjoy.
By following these simple guidelines, you will be able to pack every one of your meals and snacks with nutrient-rich foods to help you lose those extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight!
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By Rita Larsen, RD; Elite Sports Clubs Dietitian and Nutrition Counselor