By Talia Wood, RD
Healthy Eating Myth: “I have to deprive myself of food to eat healthy and tastefully”
FALSE! Just because you decide to eat healthy does not mean that you have to deprive yourself ALL the time of some of the less healthy foods you enjoy. Focus on a balanced diet MOST of the time and allow yourself a treat about once a week so that you won’t feel deprived.
A balanced diet includes foods from all of the 5 food groups at your meals and snacks daily:
1) 2-3 servings per day of the protein group (one serving = a deck of cards)
- Chicken, turkey, lean beef, buffalo, fish, eggs, venison, pork, nuts, peanut butter
2) 2-3 servings per day of low fat dairy (one serving = 1 cup of yogurt OR milk OR 4 dice stacked together for cheese)
- Low-fat yogurt, milk, cheese
3) 2-3 servings per day of fruit (one serving = tennis ball size or ½ cup)
- Apples, applesauce, apricots, banana, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, dates, dried fruit, figs, fruit cocktail, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, watermelon
4) 3-4 servings per day of non-starchy vegetables (one serving = ½ cup cooked OR 1 cup leafy greens)
- Amaranth or chinese spinach, artichoke, artichoke hearts, asparagus, baby corn, bamboo shoots, beans (green, wax, Italian), bean sprouts, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese), carrots, cauliflower, celery, chayote (in the squash family), coleslaw (packaged, no dressing), cucumber, daikon (large white radish), eggplant, greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip), hearts of palm, jicama, kohlrabi (German turnip), leeks (in the onion family), mushrooms, okra, onions, pea pods, peppers, radishes, rutabaga (Swedish turnip), salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress), sprouts, squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, zucchini), sugar snap peas, Swiss chard, tomato, turnips, water chestnuts, yard-long beans
5) 6-11 servings per day of starches, breads, and cereals (one serving = ½ cup OR 1 slice of bread OR look at the serving size on the package).
- Starchy vegetables like peas, corn, lima beans, and potatoes; dried beans, lentils, and peas such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black eyed peas, and split peas; grains like oats, barley, and rice. (The majority of grain products in the US are made from wheat flour. These include pasta, bread, and crackers but the variety is expanding to include other grains as well)
Be adventurous! Try a new fruit or vegetable every time you visit the grocery store. If you don’t know what something is, do a little investigation to find out. Who knows, you may really like it in a recipe! You’ll never know if you don’t try!
Focus on moderation or smaller portion sizes at meals and snacks. If you still “feel hungry” all the time, start eating your vegetables first at each meal and snack. Really try to bulk up on them (even more than the recommended ½ cup to 1 cup per serving). Try to take 20 minutes to eat your vegetables before starting to eat your protein, starches, breads, cereals, fruit, and milk or yogurt at your meals.
Talia Wood is a Registered Dietitian. As a consultant, she has been able to work with very diverse populations. Currently, she consults with hospitals, nursing homes, an Indian Health Service clinic, and agencies who provide support for individuals with disabilities and their families. Nutrition is such an important and often overlooked piece of the “quality of life” puzzle. Talia very much enjoys seeing people thrive through nutrition.