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The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides some very practical advice on how to Get Your Plate in Shape! They suggest some tips to get you to thinking about what goes on your plate in addition to how to make healthy choices.

Here is a review of some of their ideas:

  1. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.The Academy suggests eating a variety of colorful veggies and beans and peas. All vegetables count! This includes fresh, frozen and canned varieties. They also suggest adding fruits that are fresh, dried, frozen or canned in water or 100 percent juice.
  2. Make at least half your grains whole. Choose whole wheat bread instead of white, brown rice instead of white rice, and whole-grain cereal instead of Captain Crunch. You can check the ingredients list on the back of food packages to find out if it is actually made of whole-grains.
  3. Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk. They have the same amount of calcium and essentials as whole milk, and the bonus of having less fat and calories. Lactose intolerant? No fear! Try lactose-free milk or even a soy beverage that is calcium fortified.
  4. Vary your protein choices. Eat a variety of different foods from the protein category each week. Shoot for eating seafood two times a week and make sure that the meat and poultry portions on your plate are small and lean.
  5. Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars. Sorry soda lovers, drinking water instead of sugary drinks saves many, many calories. You can save even more by avoiding sugary desserts and replacing them with fruit. Also, pay attention to the amount of salt in foods. Opt for spices to flavor foods instead of adding salt. When preparing foods, switch out solid fats for oils; for example: butter for olive oil.
  6. Enjoy your food more by eating less. Keep track of how much you eat in a food diary and avoid large portions. The Academy recommends cooking more often at home so that you are in total control of what is in your food. Eating out? No problem! A lot of restaurants have lower calorie menu options.
  7. Be physically active your own way. Choose activities that you enjoy and shoot for 2-1/2 hours a week. Children and teens should aim for 60 minutes or more each day.
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