For those needing some motivation to continue their health/wellness New Years Resolutions or just looking to be healthier in 2023, we’ll revisit some of our past posts on nutrition, health, and exercise. This week, we’ll discuss the when, the how, and the what for eating healthy!
When should you eat?
In order to better control the amount you eat and avoid becoming too hungry between meals, the typical suggestion is to eat a meal roughly every 4-6 hours when you’re awake. People who skip meals or go long periods between meals will not only get hungry, but often crave and snack on high fat, high sodium, and/or higher sugar foods. Avoiding skipping breakfast is particularly important, with numerous studies linking skipping breakfast to a higher risk of obesity – losing the opportunity for a filling, nutrient-packed breakfast, and often replacing it with unhealthy snacking throughout the morning. If you do choose to snack, try and have healthy snacks available, like fresh fruits and vegetables or yogurt, and plan on set times for snacking to avoid mindlessly grazing the entire day.
How should you eat?
A number of studies point to not only portion sizes increasing over time, but when we’re presented with larger portions, we tend to keep eating even if we’re no longer hungry! To counter this, serve smaller portions on smaller plates and give yourself some time to see if you’re still hungry before potentially getting a second serving. Additionally, research has pointed to a connection between slower eating and lower calorie intake, increased feeling of fullness, less frequent snacking, and interestingly enough, more vivid memory and enjoyability of meals. To slow down your eating, take smaller bites and chew thoroughly. Put down your fork or spoon between bites, frequently taking a sip of water before picking it up again – which will also help with hydration!
What should you eat?
This is where the USDA’s MyPlate comes in. Based on recommendations from the US Dietary Guidelines, MyPlate suggests that half of your plate or meals should be non-starchy fruits and vegetables, while the other half makes up proteins and grains, with at least half of your grains being whole grains, and the majority of your proteins being lean meat or plant-based proteins to avoid consuming too much saturated fat. Additionally, be sure to get regular servings of low or non-fat dairy, and if you cannot or choose not to consume dairy, be sure to find an adequate source of calcium as a replacement. Try to avoid too much of the high sodium foods, and limit the consumption of sugary drinks that add empty calories.
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