Adapted by Jessica Kovarik, RD, LD, former Extension Associate, from materials by Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
Weight loss is often included in the list of resolutions for the new year. Instead of going on another diet, choose to adopt healthy habits for a lifetime. To get started, here are ten suggestions based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This helps to reduce the risk for chronic diseases. To lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60-90 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity is recommended.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and low in fat and calories. By incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet on a daily basis, you are decreasing your risk for chronic diseases, vitamin deficiencies and other health problems.
- Get plenty of fiber: 20-35 grams each day. Fiber has many health benefits including reducing risks for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. When you are increasing fiber in your diet, make sure you increase fluid intake as well.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains. Choose from oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn, cereal, tortillas and bread. To assure the bread is whole grain, make sure the first grain ingredient listed on the package is whole wheat or another whole grain.
- Eat three cups of beans every week. Beans are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. One half cup of cooked beans can have as much as seven grams of fiber.
- Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Extra weight and unhealthy eating habits begin when hunger and full cues are ignored. Make sure that when you eat it is because of hunger and not thirst or boredom. If you are not sure, try drinking a glass of water or do another activity. If you’re still hungry a little while later, you’ll know it probably is hunger.
- Limit total fat to no more than 25-35% of total calories. For a person consuming 2,000 calories per day, this means about 67 grams of fat per day. Saturated fat should be no more than 10 percent of total calories, or about 22 grams. Young children (1–3 years) can get about 30–40% of their calories from fat because they are still growing.
- Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups. Choose grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat and beans because each group provides different nutrients needed for good health.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. By being properly hydrated, your body can function at its best. Water is the best choice, but low-fat milk and 100 percent juice are also good choices when you’re thirsty.
- Be a safe food handler. Keep food safe in your household by washing your hands often and keeping kitchen surfaces clean. Cook foods to a safe temperature to kill bacteria and then promptly refrigerate. Bacteria can grow at temperatures of 40° F to 140° F.
Habits are hard to change. Choose one goal at a time to work on and then move on to the next to ensure you meet your health goals. Soon, you’ll feel better and be healthier!