What you eat can affect how your body functions from concentration during class to performing at your best during an athletic competition or a daily workout. To maintain optimal nutrition, eat a balanced diet full of a variety of healthy foods from all of the food groups. Don’t skip meals as it may lead to overeating later in the day. Keep in mind that all foods fit… yes, even that chocolate… just in moderation. Watch your portion sizes and learn the correct portion sizes for your favorite foods.
These food and diet recommendations are very general and are meant for a healthy person with no major medical complications. For specific diet recommendations (for someone with diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc.) please visit with your health care provider or a Registered Dietitian.
Focus on your fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that are vital to your health. They are low in calories and are a good source of fiber which will help keep you feeling fuller longer and maintain a healthy digestive tract. They have been shown to reduce risk of developing some chronic diseases. Try to include fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors, as each provides different vitamins and minerals. For more information visit the Mayo Clinic.
Choose whole grains at least 50% of the time. A whole grain product is one that uses the entire portion of the grain in its finished product therefore capturing all of the nutrition of the entire grain. Whole grains are rich in B vitamins essential for your nerve function plus they are high in fiber which causes us to feel full faster, helping to maintain a healthy weight. Carbohydrates are you bodies preferred source of energy. Examples of whole grains include: brown rice, whole wheat bread and oatmeal.
Eat lean protein. Protein comes from two sources: animal or plant. Examples of lean sources of protein include: tofu, edamame and other soy products, beans, fish, skinless chicken, as well as lean cuts of pork and beef. When selecting a cut of meat, look for the one with the least amount of marbling…the white stuff…and trim off the remaining fat before cooking. Baked, grilled or broiled are heart healthy cooking methods to keep your lean proteins healthy food choices.
Limit empty calorie foods. Also known as junk food, these foods are high in calories but not in nutritional value. Examples of empty calorie foods include: soda, candy, cookies, chips and alcohol. Empty calorie foods are very low in nutrients and provide very little benefit to your body.
Drink Water! And think before you drink anything else. Water is necessary for hydration, keeps your skin looking good, protects your kidneys and can help control your calories. Begin drinking water first thing in the morning and add lemon or lime for a refreshing change throughout the day.
Do I need to take vitamins?
You should be able to get the enough vitamins and minerals from the foods that you eat; however, if you know you are not eating a balanced diet a multivitamin may be a good option.
Are carbohydrates bad for me?
No, in fact your body prefers carbohydrates as its main source of energy. When choosing carbohydrates, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and make sure to choose whole grains at least half of the time.
How many calories do I need?
It depends on a number of things, your height, weight, age and activity level. No one is the same. To get a good idea of the amount of calories you should be consuming. Go to http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calories/art-20048065
If I eat a lot of protein will that increase my muscle mass?
Not necessarily! Your body needs a balanced diet and not necessarily more protein. Too much protein can actually be harming your body, rather than helping it!
- Official website of the American Dietetic Association (New Name: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
- An information-filled website created by the USDA
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Information regarding proper portion sizes
- MyPlate.gov Personalized meal tracking and menu planning (Now OR myfitnesspal.com
- CDC Nutrition Topics
- The truth about fad diets: http://www.webmd.com/women/fad-diets