Today “eating healthy” can have a multitude of meanings, and it can be hard to navigate through them. Everyone from celebrities to stay-at-home moms claims to know the best and most healthful way to eat and wants you to consume accordingly. Fad diets have been around for centuries and, unfortunately, are not going anywhere. Instead of trying to beat them -- and you definitely shouldn’t join them -- why not outsmart them?
There are a few key principles to making wise choices: portion size, filling up on fruits and vegetables, eating a rainbow, moving frequently and moderation.
Portion size. One of the most challenging aspects about today's food culture is portion control. Portions are large no matter where you go, and without knowing it, you can double not only your caloric intake, but your pants size. Check out www.choosemyplate.gov/ for suggested portion sizes to follow.
Fill up on fruits and veggies. Filling up on fruits and veggies can help you cut down on other, less nutritious items. Fruits and vegetables are not only packed with nutrients that your body needs, but are also low in calories. This makes them perfect for snacks and meals. Watch out for sauces/dips that might accompany them, as these can be high in calories.
Eat a rainbow. Why are fruits and veggies all different colors? To provide us with many different nutrients. Mother Nature is pretty clever and made each color represent a different group of vitamins and minerals. Love carrots? Great, but we only need so much beta-carotene. Mix orange carrots with purple grapes, green peppers and even white veggies like onions for your very own natural multivitamin.
Move frequently. Yes, movement is part of a healthy diet. Eating well is about 70 percent of the equation, which leaves 30 percent to exercise. Doing only one or the other leaves your health unbalanced. Not a marathon runner or CrossFit champion? No problem! Get about 30-60 minutes a day of moderate exercise outside of normal activity; walking the stairs is fabulous, but consider that a health bonus. Extra motion will make you feel good and boost all your healthful eating.
Everything in moderation. Treats are important, but it is also important not to overindulge every day. Find your balance. For some, it is the juicy hamburger; for others, the occasional chocolate cake. The key is the 80:20 rule. If you make good choices 80 percent of the time, that leaves 20 percent for indulgences.
Remember to make food and health fun. Food is the body’s fuel, so give it the best fuel you can!
About Abby Hall
Abby Hall, R.D., C.D., works as a metabolic dietitian at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on both national and state levels. She received her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Indiana University in Bloomington and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Buffalo – SUNY.