Nutrition 101

Food choices have a direct impact on your health and wellness. We all know how important it is to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but we also need to watch for eating too many foods which may contain high amounts of calories and added sugars.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) develops guidelines to help teach us what goes into a good diet. According to the USDA, a healthy diet is made up of:

  • fruits, vegetables, whole grains
  • fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products (yogurt, cheese, etc.)
  • lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts
  • low amounts of saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend filling half your plate with vegetables and fruit. Here are some tips on how you can add more to your meals:

  • Keep frozen, canned and dried fruit and vegetables on hand, especially when fresh produce is not in season. Buy canned fruit that packed in its juice for less added sugars and calories, and choose low-sodium canned vegetables.
  • Try new types of fruits and vegetales and prepare them in different ways. Texture is everything when it comes to sandwiches, so experiment with veggie toppings like raw cucumber, avocado slices, or pickled carrots. Add flavor to breakfast by topping oatmeal, frozen waffles, or cereal with berries or banana slices. Create a guilt-free dessert with fresh fruit or serve it as a topping on low-fat yogurt.
  • Many children and young adults drink more than half of their fruit as juice, which often contains a significant amount of added sugar. Whole fruit contains fiber and other nutrients without the added sugar. When drinking juice, make sure it is 100-percent juice, with no added sugar.

 The amount of calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fats an individual needs per day varies on one's age, physical activity level, and weight. Visit our nutrition area resources to help figure out what is right for you!