“Savor the Flavor” is the theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month. “According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans we should enjoy a healthy eating pattern and choose foods and beverages with limited amounts of added sugars, sodium and saturated fats,” said Dr. Sharon Robinson a Registered Dietitian with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Healthy food choices can still have great flavor! Try these ideas to “savor the flavor”:
1) Choose snacks such as naturally sweet fresh fruit instead of cake and cookies and drinks such as water with lemon or unsweet tea to reduce added sugar.
2) Use tasty herbs and spice instead of salt to flavor your foods. At the store, compare food labels and select foods lower in sodium.
3) Include a variety of protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans and seeds to reduce saturated fat and add flair to your meals.
With Hopkins County’s interest in improving health, I wanted to share some nutrition and physical activity tips. These are all excellent ways to start on the road to a healthier you!
– Eat Breakfast – Include at least 3 of the food groups. Try a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese, salsa and a whole grain tortilla, or a yogurt parfait with low-fat yogurt, fruit, and whole grain cereal.
– Make Half Your Plate Fruits & Veggies – These add color, flavor, texture, vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your plate. Experiment with canned, fresh, and frozen.
– Watch Portion Sizes – Use half your plate (based on a 9-inch plate) for fruits and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean protein foods. To complete the meal, add a serving of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt.
– Be Active – Regular physical activity has so many health benefits. Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults should get two hours and30 minutes per week. You don’t have to hit the gym—take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball.
– Fix Healthy Snacks – Choose from two or more of the MyPlate food groups. Try raw veggies with low-fat cottage cheese, or a tablespoon of peanut butter with an apple or banana.
– Get to Know Food Nutrition Labels – Reading the Nutrition Facts panel can help you shop and eat or drink smarter.
– Follow Food Safety Guidelines – This includes: regular handwashing, separating raw protein foods from ready-to-eat foods, cooking foods to the appropriate temperature by using a food thermometer, and refrigerating food quickly at a proper temperature to slow bacteria growth.
– Dine Out without Ditching Your Goals – Look for healthier options that are grilled, baked, broiled or steamed. Include plenty of veggies!
– Enact Family Meal Time – Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Turn off the TV, phones and other electronic devices to encourage mealtime talk. Get kids involved in meal planning and cooking and use this time to teach them about good nutrition.
– Banish Brown Bag Boredom – Whether it’s a lunch for work or school, prevent brown bag boredom with easy-to-fix, healthy lunch ideas. Try a whole-wheat pita pocket with veggies and hummus or a low sodium vegetable soup with whole grain crackers or a salad of mixed greens with low-fat dressing and a hard-boiled egg.
– Drink More Water – Quench your thirst by drinking water instead of sugary drinks.
– Eat Seafood Twice a Week – Seafood—fish and shellfish—contains a range of nutrients including healthy omega-3 fats. Salmon, trout, oysters and sardines are higher in omega-3’s and lower in mercury.
– Cut Back on Added Sugar – Foods and drinks with added sugars can contribute empty calories and little or no nutrition. Reviewing ingredients on the food label can help you identify sources of added sugar.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service offers many educational programs which help consumers adopt healthy habits that promote health and reduce the risk for chronic disease. Programs include: Dinner Tonight, Better Living for Texans, Walk Across Texas, and Do Well Be Well with Diabetes among others. Teaser – add May 20, 9:00 a.ma . to 12:00 noon, to your calendar. The mutli-county team of Family & Consumer Sciences Agents from Hopkins, Rains, and Wood Counties, along with a guest chef and other guest presenters, will be conducting “Cooking Through the Seasons,” with cooking demonstrations, exhibition of kitchen gadgets and knife skills, and much more. Watch for details, but save the date!
“You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves” – Abraham Lincoln