Achieving a healthy diet…what does that mean?

By

Published:

 

This time of year many of us are trying to lose weight or change our eating patterns for better health. The word diet often means a temporary or restrictive eating plan. This kind of diet allows you to lose weight or achieve a goal and when you stop the ‘diet’ then you gain weight back again.

The word diet really means a healthy eating plan aimed at attaining and maintaining good health permanently for the entire family. It is not a temporary plan, but one that everyone in the family sustains for the rest of their lives. A healthy diet includes balanced food choices, appropriate serving sizes, plenty of plain water, activity and rest.

A healthy eating plan contains a variety of foods from ALL the food groups. These include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein.

Fruits and vegetables provide a lot of fiber and nutrients with very few calories and make you feel full much more quickly. Choose lean beef or pork, chicken or tofu. Twice a week try seafood. Make at least half of your grains whole grains. Look for words like “100% whole grain” on the food label. Include 1 cup of low fat or fat free milk or dairy products. They contain as much or more calcium than the higher fat products.

Many of us eat the right kinds of foods, but portion control can be an issue. Start by using a smaller plate, 9-inch or smaller. Cover half you plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter of your plate with whole grains, and one-fourth of your plate with lean protein. Add one serving of low-fat milk on the side.

Take time to enjoy your food. Eat slowly and enjoy the taste and textures paying attention to how you feel. Learn to recognize when you start feeling full, and stop or slow down. Eating quickly can cause you to eat too much. It takes about 20 minutes for you to start feeling full, so by eating slowly you will eat less.

Now, what about those less healthy foods like cake, cookies, chips and ice cream? Consider these sometimes foods. You need to learn how to incorporate them into your regular eating plan but not overdo it. The more you deprive yourself, the more you will want it. It is a sometimes food that you can have as a small serving. If you have it once in a while, you less likely to binge on it when you do have it. Remember this healthy eating plan is forever and if you say no more ice cream that means forever.

If you need help designing a healthy eating plan specifically for you check out the new super tracker at www.myplate.gov/supertracker. This website allows you to set a healthy eating plan and track your food intake and activity. It will give you menu ideas as well as information on how many servings of food you should be eating at each meal.

There are many more tips on eating for health, recipe ideas and ways to help the entire family to eat healthy. For more, see Sandra Brown’s follow-up article in Live Well next week on tips for planning healthy meals.

Sandra Brown is the food safety and nutrition faculty for Washington State University Clark County Extension. Reach her at 360-397-6060 ext 5700 or browns@wsu.edu. The WSU Clark County Extension is located at The Heritage Farm, 1919 NE 78th Street, Vancouver WA 98665 or visit their website at http://clark.wsu.edu