How do I make a healthy choice when there are so many different foods available? From pasta, pizza, burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads – which is a healthy choice? Although salad may be the go-to option when compared to pizza, there is much to consider when you’re making a decision about what foods to choose.
In other words, eating healthy is not always about choosing a salad every time – there are oodles of ways to enjoy a wide variety of tasty foods and make healthy choices.
The first step to making a healthy food choice is having an open mind about balance and variety. Eating “healthy” looks different to everyone. Despite common belief, there is no perfect way to make a healthy choice. There are thousands of different foods, ingredients, and combinations that fall at both ends of the “healthy” spectrum.
Choosing one (or two… or all six!) of these options will make you eligible for earning points in the YOW challenge. Making these choices part of your daily routine will help make you healthier for life!
- Choose water – carry a reusable water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day. Drink water before, during, and in-between meals.
- Choose fruits & vegetables. – whether it’s a snack or they fill up half your plate; fruits and veggies are packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants to keep you fuller longer and feeling great. They go with just about everything; mix a few cups of steamed broccoli into your pasta or add some fresh berries to your salad or yogurt.
- Choose Whole grains. When grains are processed, the outer shell is removed and important fiber and nutrients are lost with it. In whole grains, like the name suggests, the outer shell is still intact. Look for the whole grain stamp on products at the grocery store. Try brown rice, or buy 100% whole wheat bread.
- Choose Fat-free and low-fat dairy products. Dairy products offer numerous benefits for your body to keep you strong, fit, and healthy. Drink milk with your meals, pour it on cereal, oatmeal, and coffee. Snack on yogurt and cheese – these are excellent options packed with protein to help keep you full, too!
- Choose Smaller portions – This is where variety and balance are game changers to the typical perception of a “healthy diet.” Go ahead and have a slice of pizza or a slice of pie, but maybe just have one slice. Instead of a second, or bigger slice, have fresh fruit or a veggie salad. Eat slowly and focus on enjoying your food.
- Choose a variety of protein foods – try incorporating fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds, cheese, milk, yogurt, eggs, skinless chicken and turkey.
Take a look at your current food habits and choices; are there any areas that you could improve? In what areas are you doing well? Remember, eating healthy is not a strict diet plan – it’s a series of choices sprinkled with balance and variety. Start off with one of these 6 choices and slowly integrate it into your daily routine. Little changes and small steps lead to big differences and large leaps towards a healthier you! Consider the list of 6 changes for healthier choices when you are at the grocery store, in a restaurant, or prepping food in the kitchen.
Applying it to real food – real examples.
Healthy Swaps for Healthier Choices
|Eat Less Often||Eat More Often|
|White or refined flour breads, cereals, flour tortillas||100% whole grain bread, cereal, corn tortillas|
|Sodas, fruit juices||Plain or sparkling water with lemon, lime or a few pieces of fresh fruit|
|White rice, noodles, potatoes||Brown rice, quinoa, millet, whole grain pasta, soba noodles, sweet potatoes – or omit altogether and double up on veggies|
|Cakes, cookies, pies, pastry, ice cream||Fresh fruit, frozen fruit (cherries, bananas, mango have a satisfying, chewy texture), nonfat yogurt with fruit|
|Snack chips, crackers||Edamame, raw vegetables with hummus, brown rice cakes, nuts or soy nuts|
|Mayonnaise, salad dressings, sauces, gravies, sour cream||Mustard, mashed avocado, lowfat salad dressings, salsa, lemon juice; plain nonfat yogurt|
|High calorie coffee drinks||Black coffee, Nonfat latte, herbal tea|
|Fatty meats, sausages, etc.||Lean meats, chicken, seafood, beans|
Author: Erin Audiss, OSU Dietetic Intern