Close Out National Nutrition Month With These Tips

Although March is officially National Nutrition Month, anytime is a good time to eat more nutritiously, points out the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)

Go fresh. Choose fresh seafood, lean poultry, and beans as your protein source. If using ground meats, choose 93 percent lean ground turkey or ground sirloin beef.

Make fresh salsa or black bean dip. Store-bought salsa is often loaded with sodium. If you plan to have more than a tablespoon or two, fresh salsa is a much better option. Guacamole contains healthy fats, but is high in fat and calories.

Measure portions. It is easy to overeat on snacks. Measure one serving so you can save room for the main course.

Favor whole grains. Brown rice is a whole grain and has more nutrients than white rice. Use corn and whole wheat tortillas instead of those made with flour. Buy or bake whole grain breads and baked goods.

Use the plate method. Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Fill one quarter of your plate with a lean protein. Then fill one quarter of your plate with a starchy food, such as beans or brown rice.

Use healthy cooking methods. Grill your chicken, fish, or vegetables. You can also try baking, steaming, or broiling. Small amounts of vegetable oil, olive oil, or cooking spray are better options.

Beans make a great protein source. Use dried beans when you can. They are lower in sodium than canned varieties. Always drain and rinse canned beans to remove excess sodium. If you are buying canned refried beans, buy fat-free varieties. Or make your own by blending whole black or pinto beans in a food processor with spices.

Go easy on the cheese. Cheese is high in saturated fat and in sodium. Queso fresco is a great choice if used in moderation. You can also try reduced-fat cheeses.

Substitute healthier options for sour cream. Non-fat Greek or plain yogurt and non-fat plain yogurt have a similar taste and texture to sour cream for much less calories and fat.

Cut your portion size when eating out. If you eat out, split the meal with someone else, eat half the meal and bring home leftovers, or order a kid-sized meal.

Snack on fruits and vegetables. Keep a bowl of fruit out on a table or counter to encourage healthy snacking. Pre-cut veggies and make “grab and go” packets.

Pack your lunch. Skip eating out and bring your lunch.