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6 tips for tuning up your diet – and still enjoying the food you eat

A woman shops in the produce section of the grocery.
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/ by Siddhi Shroff, a registered dietitian at the UK Markey Cancer Center

March is National Nutrition Month and the perfect time to start new healthy eating habits.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to abandon your favorite snacks and treats. Here are my six tips to help you eat healthy and stay satisfied:

As always, continue to follow any diet restrictions recommended by your physician.

1. Don’t skip breakfast! Or snacks.

Your mother was right – eating breakfast is important! Start your day with a meal that includes a balance of protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole grain. Try scrambled eggs with veggies on whole grain toast, or plain yogurt with fruit and whole grain cereal or granola.

You might surprised to hear this, but snacking between meals is encouraged as part of a healthy diet. Set up your pantry or fridge with plenty of fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains, and choose from two of the food groups when you prepare a snack. For example, pair grapes with cottage cheese, or a tablespoon of peanut butter with celery, an apple, or your preferred fruit or vegetable.

2. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day will help you get a good mix of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

In addition to whole fresh fruit, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are a good option. Be sure to read the ingredients list and nutrition label and avoid added sugars, sodium and fat in packaged fruits and veggies.

3. Keep portion sizes in mind.

Look at your plate and think about recommended serving sizes. Ideally, you want half your plate to be fruits and vegetables and the other half to be whole grain and protein servings, along with a dairy serving to balance your day.

Check out ChooseMyPlate.gov or consult a dietitian to determine what portion sizes are appropriate for you.

4. Embrace homemade meals. But eating out is OK, too.

Shopping, planning and preparing your own meals can be rewarding and cost-effective. Keep meals simple with a short list of ingredients, and get family members or kids involved in meal prep to make it a bonding activity.

Don’t worry – you can still enjoy eating out, too! When you’re at a restaurant, choose foods that are baked or grilled rather than fried. If the entrée is a large portion, eat half and take the rest home. The leftovers make a great meal the next day.

5. Explore new foods and flavors.

Don’t be afraid to try new foods and spices. Switch it up and add a new fruit or vegetable to the mix when grocery shopping, or buy a spice or seasoning to change the flavor of your usual foods. Be sure to read the ingredients list for seasonings to ensure they are not loaded with sodium.

6. Drink more water, fewer sugary beverages.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and to avoid an excess of added sugars in your diet. Drinks with added sugars provide empty calories and little nutrition, so it is important to consume them in moderation. Want to add some flavor to your water? Add fresh fruit slices or a splash of fruit juice.

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