Courtesy of Food & Nutrition Services, Dani Rodriguez-Brindicci, MS, RDN
Rounding the Bases for Better Nutrition!
Healthy eating can be navigated like a baseball field; sometimes progress
comes one base at a time. Remember, even minor changes in your eating
habits have a greater impact on your health than you might imagine. These
four practices below are some of the various ways to achieve a more ideal diet!
FIRST BASE: Limit the junk. Read ingredient list. Go for whole foods.
Benefits of limiting highly processed foods
You should limit highly processed foods and drinks. Our food environment
is changing. Highly processed foods are readily available and people are
eating more of them. These foods increase your intake of sodium, sugar
and/or saturated fat which can increase your risk of developing chronic
diseases, such as heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and even some types
Highly processed foods can include:
- sugary drinks
- chocolate and candies
- ice cream and frozen desserts
- fast foods like French fries and burgers
- frozen entrées like pasta dishes and pizzas
- bakery products like muffins, buns and cakes
- processed meats like sausages and deli meats
Some processed foods can be part of a healthy eating pattern
Not all processed foods have added sodium, sugars or saturated fat. Some
types of processing, like pasteurization, help create a safe and convenient
food supply. Other types of processing can be used to help preserve food
and retain nutrients. These techniques include:
SECOND BASE: Shop the Seasons. Eat Locally. Mostly Plants.
Benefits of cooking more often
Cooking and preparing food can support healthy eating habits. Cooking allows you to:
- learn new skills
- rely less on highly processed foods
- control the amount of sauces and seasonings
- make foods that you and your family like and will eat
- save money by avoiding extra money spent on meals eaten out
choose healthy ingredients like:
- whole grain foods
- choose protein foods that come from plants more often
How to cook more often
You can make cooking faster and easier. Use these ideas to help make cooking
part of your routine.
Cook once and eat twice
Cook enough for another meal. This doesn’t mean that you need to
eat the same meal twice.
Get creative with leftovers to make a whole new meal:
- Cook double the rice for your stir-fry and use the extras for rice pilaf.
- Cook twice the chicken or ground turkey you need and keep extras to make
chicken salad, enchiladas, chili or spaghetti sauce.
- Keep flavors simple so foods can be used for many meals. Chili one night
turns into tacos the next and a topping for spaghetti another night.
When preparing meals, chop or cook extra vegetables and fruits so you have
some for snacks and meals the next day.
Become a big batch cook
Batch cooking simply means making meals and snacks in bigger batches and
freezing them in meal-size portions for convenient week-day meals. This
can save you time and money.
These healthy homemade options are ideal for batch cooking:
- pasta dishes
- spaghetti sauce
Use time-saving tools
Make home cooking easier by using time-saving tools. Try a:
- mini-chopper to quickly dice up garlic and onions
- hand blender to make quick and easy soups and sauces
- slow cooker to cook food while you are busy during the day
- pressure cooker to reduce cooking times and make meals in a hurry
Keep healthy options on hand
The best way to cook quick, healthy meals and snacks is to keep your kitchen
stocked with healthy ingredients like:
- soup broth to add flavor
- bagged leafy greens to make an easy salad
- your favorite herbs and spices to add flavor
- pre-cut vegetables to use for snacks and stir-fries
- canned tuna or salmon to add to a salad or sandwich
- frozen or canned vegetables to make a quick side dish
- canned chick peas and lentils to toss into soups, salads or main dishes
Healthy cooking methods
Explore different ways to cook food. Try those that require little to no
added fat. This includes:
- grilling & broiling
- roasting & steaming
- stir-frying and sautéing
THIRD BASE: Eat Whole Foods. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
Start by replacing one, or better yet, two to three days of your week’s
meals to vegetarian options.
The Benefits of a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet
There are several major benefits to moving to plant-based nutrition, all
supported by excellent science. These benefits include:
Easy weight management: People who eat a plant-based diet tend to be leaner than those who don’t,
and the diet makes it easy to lose weight and keep it off—without
Disease prevention: Whole-food, plant-based eating can prevent, halt, or even reverse chronic
diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes.
A lighter environmental footprint: A plant-based diet places much less stress on the environment.
HOMERUN: Know your motivation. Get active. Manage your weight.
Every time you eat, see it as an opportunity to promote your health!
Often, with wellness habits, we focus on an elusive future that may never
come: a distant cancer we might be preventing, the 10 pounds that we could
lose before summer, a notion of longevity that we won’t know is
successful until the turn of the century. While our lifestyle can affect
all of these, it’s hard to stay motivated for a reward that is weeks,
months, or years away.
Try these quick suggestions:
Focus on how you feel right now. Do you feel lighter, less bloated, more energized, or less anxious? “Feeling”
the tangible benefits in the short run provides ongoing motivation to
get you through and keep you working towards a healthier tomorrow.
Work within your real life. Know what you absolutely cannot give up – like that glass of wine
perhaps? Focus instead on the things you can start changing or adding
in for better maintenance. Start with a 20 minute walk after dinner instead
of trying to squeeze in a 2 hour workout at the gym in your already hectic schedule.
Don’t let one set-back keep you from working toward your goal. Don’t get down on yourself if you slip-up -just make sure your next
meal is a healthy one!