Good health begins at home, and it seems to be a no-brainer that if you keep healthier foods on hand at all times, you’ll be less likely to binge on the stuff that’s not so great for you.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating pattern most closely resembles the proposed dietary guidelines for healthier eating habits for most Americans.
DASH emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and low-fat milk and milk products;73 includes whole grains, poultry, seafood, and nuts; and is lower in sodium, red and processed meats, sweets, and sugar-containing bever- ages than typical intakes in the United States. [source]
12 Tips for Healthier Eating Patterns
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, the following are recommendations for healthier eating, based on studies of specific dietary components:
- Limit calorie intake to the amount needed to attain or maintain a healthy weight for adults and appropriate weight gain in children and teens.
- Consume foods from ALL food groups in nutrient-dense forms and in recommended amounts.
- Reduce intake of solid fats.
- Replace solid fats with oils.
- Reduce sugar intake.
- Reduce intake of refined grains and replace some refined grains with whole grains.
- Reduce sodium intake.
- Limit alcohol intake to moderate levels (aka: Don’t get drunk!).
- Increase intake of fruits and veggies.
- Increase intake of whole grains.
- Increase intake of milk and milk products and replace whole milk and full fat milk products with fat-free or low-fat choices to reduce solid fat intake.
- Increase seafood intake by replacing some meat or poultry with seafood.
Healthy Eating is All About Balance
For me, healthy eating began at a young age. My mother never allowed junk food in our house, and we were raised on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. However, I did inherit a sweet tooth, and I do (occasionally) go through a box of chocolate chip cookies every now and then. But, at the end of the day, it’s all about balance.
You don’t have to eat perfectly, and you don’t have to give up your favorite comfort foods. You should, however, enjoy things in moderation; and you should have an obligation to try to take care of your body through a predominantly healthy diet and copious amounts of exercise. The following are some quick tips to help jumpstart that healthy lifestyle you deserve:
Consume less of the ‘bad stuff’.
It takes a couple of weeks to make something habit forming. So, for example, if you eat 2 ice cream cones a day, cut back to eating only 1 ice cream cone a day, and then only eat 1 ice cream cone every other day…until you reach the point where you’re only eating 1 ice cream cone per week.
Practice portion control.
It’s pretty remarkable to look at how portion sizes have grown over the last couple of decades. As mentioned earlier, you can still enjoy the stuff you like, just do it on a smaller scale. I used to tease my mother because she would buy one Snickers bar, and it would last her an ENTIRE WEEK. She would buy it and then take a knife and slice off a small piece and save the rest for later. It’s a great idea to help you practice portion control…though, admittedly, it still drives me crazy.
Swap out ingredients.
Replace butter with applesauce in baking recipes; whole flour for white flour, skim milk for whole milk, etc. Simple swaps like these can save you hundreds of calories without sacrificing flavor.
Sneaking a Peek to See What’s in the Fridge
You can tell a lot about a person by looking inside…of their refrigerator.
Recently, I asked several friends to open up (literally) about what they have in their refrigerators.
I asked them to snap 2 candid photos of their fridge (an outside shot and an inside shot), and I asked them to refrain from staging anything. My goal was to capture a real ‘sneak peek’ into the ‘normal’ stuff that most of us have sitting around in our refrigerators. I also asked them to briefly comment on what the most common, “go-to” or “staple” food and beverage items were and why.
In an effort not to be left out of my own study, I kicked things off. Below are the results.
People are like refrigerators. It doesn’t matter what you look like; it matters what’s on the inside. -Anon.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 | U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services