NORMAN — For many people, the holiday season was filled with rich, high-calorie food that may have been hard to resist.
However, with 2014 just getting started, it is a great time to make a commitment to healthier eating. Knowing the basics of good nutrition and making wise food choices that will improve your health are great ways to start off the new year.
Although they sometimes get a bad rap, carbohydrates fuel the body and keep it energized. You should get your carbs from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
Whole grains usually provide a greater nutritional punch than their processed counterparts. Look for labels that read 100 percent whole wheat. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, try to enjoy vegetables more often. They provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with fewer calories.
For fruits, choose whole fruits such as apples, oranges, grapes or pears more often over fruit juice. You feel more satisfied and stay feeling full longer after eating the whole piece of fruit as opposed to drinking a glass of juice.
Dairy is an important component of any diet, and to consume it in a healthy manner, look for low-fat versions of your favorite dairy products. Milk and yogurt naturally contain some sugar, but added sugars can translate into added calories.
Pay attention to the grams of sugar on the Nutrition Fact label. Also, be on the lookout for sugary-type words such as “syrup” or those words ending in “ose.” Four grams of sugar equal 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Protein helps rebuild tissues and maintains hormone levels. Some protein-rich foods contain a lot of fat, so eat them in moderation. Choose lean protein foods more often and make higher fat protein foods occasional choices.
In addition, bake, broil, sauté or grill proteins such as fish, skinless chicken, turkey and lean cuts of beef and pork.
Another good source of protein can be plant-based. Legumes, soy, tofu, nuts and seeds are great sources of protein, but keep portion sizes in check. Pre-measure a serving to help ensure you do not overindulge.
Contrary to popular belief, fat is your friend. It provides energy, protects organs and provides insulation. But like protein, it needs to be consumed in moderation and should not comprise most of your daily caloric intake.
Watch out for saturated and trans fats by choosing low-fat dairy and protein foods and limiting the amount of fried foods and high-fat snacks and desserts you eat on a regular basis.
Plant fats that are found in canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, and omega-3s that are found in fish should be your main source of fat. Try to consume two four-ounce servings of fish each week.
Keeping these healthful tips in mind should help you get a great healthy start in 2014.
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