With all the diet and nutritional ads in the media these days, it͛s difficult to know just exactly what you should and should not be eating to stay healthy. Lining the grocery shelves are labels screaming gluten free, diary free, nut free, soy free, grain free… all touting their individual benefits. Just how do you decide what is right for you?
The National Council on Aging has some great advice for maintaining a nutritious lifestyle.
1. Know what a healthy plate looks like and follow recommended servings – focus your plate͛s contents on fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy and whole foods. A rough guideline is to get 3 cups of dairy, 2 cups of vegetables, 1.5 cups of fruit, 5 ounces of grain and 5 ounces of protein every day.
2. Choose your food based on the important nutrients – remember, every bite counts. Don͛t eat ͚empty calories͛, instead focus on filling your body with vitamins and mineral-rich foods. Especially important as we age, we need to ensure we are getting enough nutrients, including Vitamin B-12, Folic Acid, Calcium, Vitamin D, Potassium, Magnesium, Fiber and Omega 3 Fats.
3. Stay hydrated. Drink water consistently throughout the day. Many people make the mistake of drinking a ton of water in the morning, or after a workout. While all water drinking is good, the real key is to keep drinking consistently throughout the day. Remember the eight-eights rule. Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.
4. Read nutritional labels –It͛s more important than ever to be a smart shopper. Buying fresh protein, dairy and produce is always the best option. If you must buy packaged food, read the nutritional label carefully to make sure you know what is in the food. Stay away from anything loaded with a bunch of ingredients you can͛t pronounce!