Who would thought you could fight cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke ......with a fork?
Many people don't know it, but one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from these diseases is to eat a healthy diet Whether or not you have a family history of cancer, diabetes, heart disease or stroke, what you eat - and how much you eat - can help reduce your risk. As a matter of fact, if you are one of the many Americans who do not smoke, eating well - along with active and maintaining a healthy weight - is your best defense against disease.
Following a few simple recommendations from the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association can help you eat your way to healthier weight - and a healthier YOU!
Make Health Choices
Eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruits each day.
Does "five" sound like a lot? Serving sizes are actually smaller than you might think
- One medium piece of fruit
- 1/4 cup of dried fruit
- 1/2 cup chopped, canned or frozen fruit
- 6 oz of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
- 1/2 cup chopped, canned or frozen vegetables
- 1 cup of leafy greens
Focus on fruits and vegetables that have the most color. They're generally the most nutritious.
Choose whole grains over processed (refined) grains and sugars.
- Choose whole - grain rice, bread, pasta and cereals.
- Not sure if it's whole grains? Look for "whole wheat" or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label.
- Limit consumption of refined carbohydrates, including pastries, sweetened cereals, soft drinks and other foods high in sugar.
Substitute healthier fats for not-so-healthy fats
- Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil.
- Avoid trans fats, found in many margarines and baked goods.
- Limit your intake of saturated fats and cholesterol found in meats and dairy products.
- Select lean cuts of meat (look for "round" or "loin")
- Trim excess fats from meats
- Choose low-fat and fat-free dairy products
- Choose poultry, fish and beans as alternatives to beef, lamb and pork.
- Add avocados and nuts to your diet.(these are high in healthy fats, but also high in calories, so don't overboard!)
Dining Portion Sizes
- Eating out? Restautant portions are frequently two to three times larger than normal portions. Remember these tips next time you dine out:
- Split an entree with a friend or save half ot it for lunch the next day.
- Have an appetizer and salad or soup your main course.
- At home, serve appropriate portion sizes, and store the rest leftovers. Avoid eating directry out of carton. Think about buying foods packaged in individual serving sizes to help you control portions. Serve dinner on your smaller salad plates instead of your dinner plates!
Watch Your Sizes
No doubt about it - our portion sizes are getting bigger and bigger, and unfortunately , so are our waistlines. Beware of portion distortion, and help trim down the number of calories you eat each day.
- Use thses visuals to help you judge what a normal portion size is:
- 1/2 cup of vegetables or fruit is about the size of your fist.
- A medium apple is the size of a baseball.
- A three-ounce portion of meat, fish or poutry is about the size of deck of cards.
- A single-derving bagel is about the size of pair of dice.
- One tablespoon of peanut butter is about the size of the tip of your thumb.
Choose Foods That Help Maintain a Healthy Weight
In addition to watching your portion sizes, substituting lower calories foods for higher calories foods can helps influence what your scale says.
- Use low-fat cooking methods like roasting, baking, broiling, steaming or poaching. Limit deep-fat frying and sauteing in a lot og oil, butter or margarine. Use a cooking spray, broth or water saute meats.
- Substitute vegetables, fruits and other lower-calories foods-lower dairy products, lean meats and cheeses, whole grains, and reduced sugar foods-for calories-dense foods such as French fried, cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream, doughnuts and other sweets.
- Use evaporated (skim or whole)milk instead of higher-fat cream in baked goods, sauces and soups.
- Use reduced-fat or fat-free yogurt to replace all or part of the sour cream or mayonnaise in a recipe. Replace part of ricotta cheese with reduced-fat ricotta cheese. Use a puree of cooked potatoes, onion, and celery as a creamy base for soups instead of cream or half-and -half
- Sharp cheese gives extra flavor so that less can be used. This helps trim the fat.
- Select yogurt or milk products without added sugar or flavorings. Mix in fresh fruit for a flavor boost.