Home & Family
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—The calendar has officially turned from 2020 to 2021. The new year could mean a fresh start for many Alabamians in several ways. One possible fresh start could be making healthy food choices. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) is committed to promoting a healthy lifestyle and wants to help Alabama residents make informed food choices.
Creating new food habits doesn’t happen overnight. Still, simple changes each day can add up to big differences in your overall eating pattern. Recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans highlight several key features of a healthy eating pattern.
More Fruits and Vegetables
The Dietary Guidelines recommend at least two and a half cups of vegetables daily. Vegetables are packed with nutrients and can liven up any plate with different colors, textures and flavors. Eating a variety of vegetables can help with general immunity, digestion, heart health and weight maintenance—among other things.
Sofia Sanchez, Alabama Extension community health specialist and registered dietitian, said beets offer nutrients that promote blood vessel health.
“Try roasting sliced beets with a drizzle of olive oil in the oven for a different option,” she recommends.
As for fruit, the guidelines recommend at least two cups of fruits each day. Fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruits such as apples, pears, bananas, berries and citrus fruits all make great options for variety in nutrients and adds natural sweetness and flavor.
Protein can come from both animal and plant sources. The guidelines recommend eating a variety of protein from foods like lean meats, seafood low in methylmercury, and beans low in added sodium.
Remember Grains and Dairy
The guidelines recommend adults make half of their daily grains whole grains. Try whole-grain rice or quinoa instead of white rice, or look for bread that says “100% Whole Grain” on the package.
The recommendation for dairy varies based on a person’s age. However, most humans would benefit by increasing their dairy intake in fat-free or low-fat forms, whether from milk (including lactose-free milk), yogurt or a soy beverage.
Setting Small Goals
Building a healthy eating pattern is all about having the right information and setting yourself up for success with an individualized plan. Start small by setting goals that are easy to obtain and move on from there.
For more information about what SNAP-Ed does to improve Alabamians’ quality of life or about tips for living a healthier lifestyle, visit LiveWellALabama.com or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.