Eat right, your way, every day by building healthful meals. You can begin building a healthful meal by making half your plate fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients that help promote good health. Regularly choose red, orange and dark green vegetables.
Add lean protein to your meal. Choose protein-rich foods such as lean beef and pork, chicken, turkey, beans or tofu. Eat beans, which are a natural source of fiber and protein. Twice a week, choose seafood as the protein on your plate.
Include whole grains. Aim to make at least half your grains whole grains. Choose 100 percent whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice and pasta. Look for the words 100 percent whole-grain or 100 percent whole wheat on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutrients and fiber than refined grains.
Add a cup of fat-free or lowfat milk to your meal. Lowfat and fat-free dairy products add the same amount of calcium and other nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories. If you are not a milk drinker, you could try a calcium-fortified soy product as an alternative. You might also include fat-free or low-fat yogurt in your meal.
Avoid extra fat by skipping gravies and sauces. They will add fat and calories to healthy food choices. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt and extra calories.
Take time to savor your food. Eat slowly, enjoying the taste and texture of your food. Pay attention to how you feel. Eating very quickly might cause you to eat too much.
Control portions by using smaller plates at mealtime. You can clean your plate without overeating.
Eat at home more often so you know exactly what you are eating. If you eat out, check out the nutrition information. Choose healthier options such as baked instead of fried foods.
Try new foods. Keep meals interesting by picking out new foods you have never tried. You might find a new favorite. Trade fun, tasty recipes with friends or find them online. You can find a new MyPlate recipes site on Pinterest. Go to Pinterest.com/MyPlateRecipes for lots of healthy recipes.
Choose foods and drinks with little or no added sugars. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Select fruit rather than sugary desserts most of the time. If you are serving fruit juice, choose 100 percent fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored drinks. Read the nutrition label to help with your selections.
Everyone has a personal calorie limit. Staying within yours can help you get to or maintain a healthy weight. Get your personal daily calorie limit at www.choosemyplate.gov and keep that number in mind when building a healthy meal.
For additional help, investigate the online super tracker tool. The super tracker will provide you tips and support to help you plan ahead and make healthier choices so you can eat right, your way, every day.
There is a new nutrition education board on Pinterest. Go to Pinterest.com/MyPlateRecipes/what-s-myplate-all-about, where you will also find much more information.
Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.