In my previous article, In Sickness and In Health, I told you all to eat right… but what does that mean? I’m sure you guys have some idea: fewer sugars, less fat, more fruit. However, we’re all low on time and high on stress, so how do we manage to eat healthy on such a tight schedule?
A healthy body leads to protection from disease, including colds, the flu, heart disease, and cancer. It also keeps your mind in top shape for schoolwork!
Here are some tips on what to eat to keep your body healthy and happy:
1. Eat at least five servings of fruits & veggies each day. Is that a lot? No it really isn’t! Serving sizes (despite our supersize me culture) are actually rather small. For fruits, one baseball-sized fruit, half a cup of fruit juice, or a fourth cup of dried fruit is a serving. One fistful of raw, leafy vegetables or half a cup of cooked vegetables is a serving. I would say that you should have a fruit or a vegetable (preferably, both!) at each meal you have. If not, fruits and veggies make great after-school snacks or a pick-me-up in the afternoon during a boring class!
2. Cut down on refined grains. Eat whole grains instead! You should have about six servings of grains per day. This is one slice of bread, an ounce of cereal, or a handful of rice/pasta. However, most popular grain-containing products have refined grains (white bread). Make most of your grains whole!
3. Make some milk mustaches. You need a few servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy products per day. A cup of milk to wash down your meal or a cup of yogurt for a breakfast parfait would be perfect!
4. Lean-mean protein. Three to six ounces of some lean, mean protein per day, with one ounce about the size of a computer mouse, are also necessary. Legumes, nuts, seeds, peas and tofu are also great sources of protein if you’re not a carnivore!
5. Cut down on sugars and fats. Yes. That chocolate cake is calling my name too. But be strong! Ignore its beautiful wail. Go on eating those grapes. Eat them. Reduce hidden, added sugar in processed foods as well.
6. Drink water. Water seems to come in so many different forms now: black water, flavored water, or vitamin water. Stick with some normal, natural water from a spring to cut down on sugars you get from flavored water or other sugary drinks, including sodas. Also, if you’re feeling hungry, drink a glass of water first to check: you might just be thirsty! (In case you can’t tell I love water! It’s the best.).
7. Less salt. Don’t be salty when I tell you this, but you shouldn’t be consuming too much sodium. In the processed foods we eat constantly, there is a ton of sodium as preservative. Have frozen or fresh vegetables over canned ones, and avoid processed foods. Check your intake and make sure you don’t end up consuming too much by the end of the day!
8. Under-size me. Do not supersize your portions. Watch them carefully, especially when you go out, as most restaurants have huge portion sizes. If they’re too big, split with a friend or save the rest for the next day!
Serving sizes vary from person to person, so the USDA recently created a new food plate graphic instead of the food pyramid. This graphic shows how much of your “plate” at each meal should be each food group. I know we’re all busy, but take the time to eat your meals well. Chew each bite carefully, taking in the flavors. If you eat fully during mealtimes, you will feel less hungry later.