The Building Blocks to a Healthy Diet
Many of us grew up with the food pyramid guiding our dietary choices. Since then, the concept has evolved into what is now known as MyPlate, which has been established by the United States Department of Agriculture. MyPlate focuses on healthy eating choices which include focusing on variety, amount, and nutrition. It is important to ensure that you are consuming the proper amount of calories as well. You should make sure that you are reading nutrition labels to make sure that you are eating foods low in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar. Much of what you need to consume is based on your age, sex, and level of physical activity. So a person’s dietary needs vary, however, there are several things that everyone can follow to make sure that their plate is healthy.
- Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables
o Fruits and vegetables are a source of many essential nutrients including, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and folic acid. Having a diet high in fruits and veggies can help reduce one’s risk for heart disease as well as some types of cancer, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. It’s important that when making your plate you choose to include whole fruit rather than things such as fruit juice. It’s also important that you vary your vegetables. There are five different subgroups of vegetables which include: dark-green, red and orange, legumes, starch, and other. It’s important that you get variety.
- Make half of your grains whole grains
o Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel. Some Examples include whole-wheat flour, cracked wheat, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice. When grains are refined, they lose much of their nutritional value such as dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. That is why you should choose whole grains when you have the option.
- Consume low-fat and fat-free dairy products
o Milk is critical for ensuring bone health and provide nutrients such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein. It’s important to choose low-fat and fat-free products to avoid saturated fats and bad cholesterol.
- Vary your protein
o Protein helps build bone, muscle, cartilage, skin, and blood. Your body needs it to survive. Proteins include foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, soy, nuts, and seeds. You should be consuming a variety of different proteins from both plant and animal sources. It’s better if you choose lean or low-fat meats because they provide less empty calories and processed meats contain a lot of unnecessary sodium.
- Limit your oils
o Oils are an essential part of the diet as they provide things such as vitamin E and fatty acids. What needs to be monitored is refined oils which include: soybean, canola, and safflower oils. It’s critical to consume no more than your daily recommended amount of oil.
Eating Healthy on a Budget
There are many strategies in place to help ensure that you maintain a healthy diet without breaking the bank. Listed below are some ideas to help you save money.
- Write down the meals you plan to make for the week to make sure you’re only buying what you need. Look around your kitchen and make note of what you already have so that you can save money by including them in your meals. Using some worksheet to plan out your meals can be helpful. When planning out, your meals try and look for healthy recipes online. You can also go to http://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/ for healthy recipes. It’s also important to include foods like fruits, vegetables, and milk on your list as they are the basis for healthy eating.
- Look for coupons for items that you plan on using in your meals, but if you don’t need an item throw away that coupon. This prevents you from buying unnecessary items that weren’t on your list.
- You should eat before you shop because people tend to impulse buy when they go food shopping hungry
- Scan the aisle before grabbing an item because stores tend to stock their most expensive brands at eye level. You can often find the same thing for cheaper above or below the most expensive products.
- Be able to identify the unit price of something, which is how much you are paying per pound, ounce, or quart. You may think what you are buying is cheaper when in reality you are paying more for less of an item.
- Join your store’s loyalty program to get exclusive offers and discounts.
- Buy in season produce as they are usually less expensive and taste better. Make sure that you only get as much as you plan on using so that none goes to waste.
- Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh and often are a lot cheaper. They also last a much longer time so that they can easily be added to meals. Just make sure you’re reading the labels.
- When shopping for grains look for items that have a whole grain listed first. Whole grain rice and whole grain pasta are budget friendly grain options.
- There are many protein options to choose from, but beans and peas are often your cheapest choices while providing a good amount of protein.
- If you want to lower the amount you pay for meat options, buy the family-size or value packs and freeze whatever you don’t use. Also, be conscious to choose lean meats for a healthier alternative.
- Eggs are also a low-cost protein that is easy to prepare
- When buying dairy try and buy low-fat or fat-free since those are healthier. You can also purchase a larger sized plain yogurt rather than individual flavored ones and add you own flavor by mixing in fruit.
- Instead of buying soda and juice try and stick with water. It has zero calories and won’t cost you money.
Healthy Eats on Campus:
We have all heard it before; “Where is the healthy food? Where are our options? Why am I gaining so much weight?” The first scapegoat students have been the dreaded dining hall; more specifically, Sodexo. But what if Sodexo wasn’t the problem? What if it was us? What if we are in such a rush to go to class and so blinded by the same boring sights we see three times a day, that we forget about the options that are given available to us?
Under the new direction of Terry Mellum and intern nutritionist, Tori Soderberg, the dining hall and the Pulse have been revamped to offer the best possible form of healthy and diverse nutrition. Not only may you have noticed the extended hours both places have acquired, but also the little wildcat signs throughout the dining hall. These have been set as a visual cue of healthy alternatives. The small green apple is also for healthy options.
Another healthy option is near the sushi bar. A refrigerator with many choices for the on the go lifestyle such as peanut butter and jelly, fruit and cheese, ready to eat salads, yogurt, and hummus. What is unique to St. Kate’s dining options is that all food items are individually priced, allowing students to mix and match different foods to create a meal. An example would be asking the classic line for just their greens and then going to the deli to purchase a sandwich on wheat bread. The dining hall also weighs different food items. For example, I could mix and match different flavors of yogurt and add different toppings such as fruit or granola and get charged by the ounce. I know what you’re thinking, “This takes a long time. Why can’t it go faster? It’s so inconvenient!” As growing adults, we need to understand that good health cannot be rushed and neither can nutrition. Sometimes the fastest available options are the worst ones for you. We will continue to see this as we move throughout life.
The dining services offer something that is essential to a great environment, and that is customer service. If you are allergic to a food item, there are lactose intolerant, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. If you may need other accommodations or have questions about what is available not on display; they are there to answer any questions you may have! You may not think so, but they are willing to help you and make your visits to the dining hall valuable.
Even as busy college students, we can still find time do our part. The staff and management understand that coming from a place of home cooked meals seven days a week to a dining hall is tough. Personnel and management are looking for students to bring in recipes from family and friends to share with them online or as a suggestion. They also have a suggestion box which is available on site! These methods can be replicated by the staff to be made for the entire student body featuring you and the family member or friend! The dining services also offer a suggestions box of new items you would like to see or perhaps ideas to make the environment more enjoyable! Currently, a team is working together to place nutritional values, such as grams of sugar and calories, on the items served in the Pulse before spring break. Lastly, we would love for students to like the Instagram and Twitter pages to keep updated on nutritional facts, upcoming events, menus, and changes!
Let’s talk about fitness:
- Here are five reasons to get you to the gym. Reason number one: It’s healthy. Going to the gym is never easy; working out is not an easy thing to do, however, it’s not impossible. A gym is a magical place, but it’s not mystical; you cannot just walk in and walk out with a healthy body. It’s going to take lots of work and dedication. Seventy-five minutes per week is recommended for physical activity.
- Reason two: You feel better about yourself. There is a sense of pride that comes with achievement. When working out you are pushing your boundaries, and when you look back on that first try and compare that to where you are now, you cannot help but feel proud.
- Reason three it’s a great way to relieve stress. I don’t know about you, but school gives me the most stress; hitting the gym is one of the best stress relievers you can find. By treating your body right, you’ll start to feel better mentally; that great feeling will make all that stress disappear.
- Reason four: You will live longer. To live a long healthy life, you need first to be healthy.
- And finally, reason five working out makes you more productive; personally, my favorite part of working out is how it clears my mind. Working out gives the mind and body a chance to reconnect; you become aware of your strengths and limitations and how you are going to use them.
If you are someone like me, and you hate running here are some tips to help you enjoy it. Running has so many benefits, one example is that it relieves stress. Go outside and run, the best way to start running is simply to put on a pair of good running shoes and hit the pavement. Start a routine try running three times a week. This will help build endurance; running once a week won’t cut it. Spacing out days to go running will allow for recovery time between sessions. Try listening to music as you run; moving to the beat will help you maintain a healthy pace. The best part of running outdoors is mapping out favorite routes to run. My ideal location to run would be around the pond because it’s right on campus so it’s very convenient and has an excellent view. After a few runs, you might be inclined to think you aren’t cut out for running. However, that is not true after a few weeks of pushing yourself by following a running routine you will begin to feel lighter, faster and you will start having more fun.
Work your way up the next level, push your endurance, raise your heart rate, build strength the treadmill does not only have to be about running. “Today is your day to start fresh, to eat right, to train hard, to live healthy, to be proud.”
“Choose MyPlate.” Choose MyPlate. The United States Department of Agriculture. Web. 06 Mar. 2016. <http://www.choosemyplate.gov/>.