It’s National Nutritional Month! To celebrate, SEARHC will be sharing helpful, creative nutrition ideas all month long. To kick things off, we will be covering the essentials of putting together a well-balanced meal. Whether you are a meal prepping master or are determined to eat healthier in 2019, the guide below will be the perfect first step in working toward a more complete, well-rounded diet.
Fruits and Veggies
When plating your meal, aim to have half of your plate filled with fruits and vegetables. Vegetables are packed full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and other nutrients that can help reduce your risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Try to eat one vegetable from each of the following groups each day: dark green leafy, peas and beans, starches, red and orange. Fruit is naturally cholesterol free and chock full of antioxidants making them excellent tools in fighting off illness and keeping your skin looking fresh. Keep in mind, eating whole fruit rather than drinking 100% fruit juice is the recommended way to consume your daily fruit intake.
Protein is the building block of muscles and bones, is used to repair tissue, and contains nutrients like B Vitamins to help the body release energy. Fortunately, it can be found in many types of foods including various traditional Alaskan varieties. Fish, poultry, meat, beans, peas, eggs, seeds, and nuts are all lean foods that are high in protein. Salmon, herring, and halibut are readily available options for residents of Southeast Alaska. Your serving of protein should account for one quarter of your plate and be about 3 ounces – roughly the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of playing cards.
Working whole grains into your diet means you are also incorporating fiber helping to improve your digestive system and reduce your risk of stroke. It is important to remember that not all grains are created equal. Refined grains, or grains that have been ground into a flour or powder, have many of the nutrients removed in the refining process. This means options like white bread, enriched pasta, and white rice should be avoided. Instead, one quarter of your plate should be composed of ½ cup of brown rice, quinoa, barley, or another whole grain.
Dairy can be a part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. Keeping your portions small and low in fat means you will be providing your body with much needed nutrients without upping your calorie count. Limiting your dairy intake to one cup of milk or yogurt or two ounces of cheese each day is a tasty way to make sure you are getting enough calcium from your food.
When putting together your meals using this guide, remember to make it fun and mix it up. Adding new options in your diet will help keep your meals exciting and keep you from getting bored. Try new foods as they come in season or can and pickle your favorites to make sure you can enjoy them all year long. Bon appétit!