Consider Tried and True Guidelines – Tips from UConn Health Nutritionists
Eat a Variety of Foods
Include foods from all of the food groups of the food guide pyramid. Make sure to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Here are a few helpful hints:
- Include fruit and juice with breakfast.
- Snack on fruit during the day.
- Add a salad to lunch.
- Serve yourself an extra helping of vegetables at dinner.
Enjoy whole grain breads, cereals, pastas and rice – but watch your portion sizes! For protein, include lower-fat meats, meat alternatives and dairy products in your meal plan.
Drink More Water
Most Americans don’t drink enough water every day. Strive for 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.
Choose a Diet Low in Fat and Saturated Fat
Strive to keep the grams of fat you eat at less than 30 percent of your total calories. How do you do this? Look at your food label. Many labels list the calories from fat next to the total calories. If most of the foods you eat have less than 30 percent fat calories, then consider yourself on a low fat diet! If fat calories are not listed, multiply fat grams by nine to give the fat calories. For example: if there are 100 calories fewer than 30 calories should come from fat. Also, in general try to keep saturated fat to less than 30 percent of total fat. If you have heart disease or diabetes, keep saturated fat to less than 10 percent of total fat. If the label lists eight grams of total fat then saturated fat should be less than 2.5 grams (30 percent) or 1 gram (10 percent).
Balance Your Food Intake with Physical Activity
If you want to maintain your weight and do not exercise, start exercising three to five days a week. Be sure to include aerobic activity, like walking, as well as stretching or yoga. Also, include weight lifting for muscle tone. If your goal is to lose weight, gradually increase your fitness level to include 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic activity five times per week, and don’t forget to stretch and include some weight lifting. Work slowly to achieve your fitness goals and remember to cut down you portion sizes. Instead of using the standard nine-inch dinner plate opt for the smaller salad or dessert size plates. If it doesn’t fit on the plate, it doesn’t fit in your fitness plan!
Everything in Moderation – Sugar, Salt (Sodium), and Alcohol
Look at your food labels. Is sugar (sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, etc) one of the first three ingredients? If so, and you are trying to limit sugar, keep looking for an alternative. Sodium can vary greatly in foods. Sodium is listed on your food label in milligrams (mg). Try to limit your total daily intake to 4 grams (4000mg) or less, especially if you have heart disease or diabetes. Our bodies use alcohol like fat, and it has about the same amount of calories. Limit your intake to one or two nights per week with a two drink maximum. Alcohol is a big hindrance to those trying to lose weight. Try wine spritzers or opt for light beer.
Once you add these principles to your daily life they will start to be more of a habit than a chore. Keep it up for your good health and remember, no matter what fad diets you hear about these principles have always been tried and true!