There has been a lot of buzz lately on the government's new dietary recommendations. You probably have heard of the "food pyramid" - the confusing, practically gutted of all useful information, pyramid looking thing that you probably pretty much ignored. There were some good recommendations in there for a healthy diet (and by diet, I mean the food you would regularly eat on a daily basis, not a "diet" meant to lose weight, which often never works). But now, instead of a pyramid has been retired and the United States Department of Agriculture has introduced the "My Plate" - click here for the visual.
The new recommendations are presented as a dinner plate with sections representing the major food groups. Vegetables and grains take up over half the plate and Fruits and Protein take up the remaining sections. There is also a separate, cup-shaped section meant for dairy. You can click on each section for a listing of healthy foods that you should consume.
Some highlights to keep in mind:
1. they have fruit juices listed as an option. Don't get me wrong - I love fruit juice - but they are only slightly better for you than a can of soda. Slightly. It is MUCH better to eat the fruit whole as the added fiber and nutrients not lost to the squeezing of the fruit will help you digest it better and not turn it straight into a glucose dump on your body.
2. Whole grains are emphasized over refined/processes grains. This is critical! Whole grains maintain all the nutrients that are necessary for healthy eating AND they contain fiber, all things that are lost in refined grains (like white bread, white flour, the cheap pasta at the store, etc). Make sure to try to make almost all of your consumed grains whole.
3. Make sure to eat small, healthy snacks through out the day so you never feel super hungry. Research has shown that if you sit down to a meal when you are feeling ravenously hungry, you are going to consume way more calories than you need. You will probably also consume those calories with some of the unhealthiest food options available. To avoid this, drink lots of water and keep healthy snacks nearby through out the day.
Eating healthy CAN be difficult when you are facing a beautiful red velvet cake in the face. Being a fat kid at heart (and at the surface), I know how hard it can be. But if we make healthy choices the vast majority of the time and exercise regularly (something I have restarted doing), then it will be OK to have a red velvet as a treat on a rare occasion. The key is not to restrict what your heart desires but to make the best/healthiest choices to satisfy those desires.