We know it’s only the first day of February, but March will be here in a flash, and this year’s National Nutrition Month theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape”. Throughout the month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to incorporate a variety of foods from all of the food groups based on this central theme. One crucial component to keeping your plate in shape is eating foods that you enjoy while being mindful of portion sizes and overall calories. Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but in order to maintain a healthy weight, we need to remain aware of just how much we eat each day. Academy Spokesperson Marjorie Nolan shares some practical ways to eat fewer calories while savoring your food:

1. Know your needs – Find your personal daily calorie quota by going to www.myplate.gov, and keep this number in mind while planning your meals and snacks each day. A simple way to do this is by dividing your plate into quarters, one each for fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Don’t forget to put a low-fat source of dairy on the side, such as milk, yogurt, or cheese. Remember, you don’t have to count calories precisely, but using your quota as a starting point to figure out how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight is an excellent idea.
2. Slim down your plates and portions – The dinner plates in your kitchen are probably around 10 inches in diameter, so try switching to 8-inch or appetizer-sized plates and you will automatically portion and consume less food at each meal without feeling deprived. Pile your plate with lower-calorie, nutrient-dense foods such as fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Thinking about all of the delicious and healthy foods you can have, as opposed to the ones that you’re trying to limit, will help you to appreciate every bite.
3. Take charge in the kitchen – Cooking at home not only allows you to balance what’s on your plate, but also lets you control the amount of fat, sodium, fiber, and overall nutrition in your meals while remaining mindful of calories. When you do decide to enjoy a meal at a restaurant, you’ll be better able to recognize appropriate portions and healthy options since you’ve been practicing in your own kitchen. Even when eating out, still aim to include plenty of the healthy stuff, prepared in ways that will keep calories in check such as steaming, baking, grilling, or broiling.
4. Watch out for liquid calories – We love a piping hot caramel macchiato as much as the next girl, but that doesn’t mean they are a regular part of our diet. The calories in fruit juices, sports drinks, sugar-laden coffee beverages, and soft drinks can add up quickly. Think that cosmopolitan is much healthier than your morning mocha? Not true, so be wary of alcoholic beverages as well. Remember to drink alcohol sensibly by capping it at one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men.
5. Log in – Food logging can be a very helpful tool for those looking to lose or maintain their weight as it allows you to keep track of exactly what you eat and stay within your calorie limit. Write down what you’re eating throughout the day, so it doesn’t seem like such a big task to tackle or remember all at once. There are many free online counters that will enable you to log, count, analyze, and track your daily diet and physical activity.
Remember, focus on incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy each day, and keep a rough estimate of your total calories so that you do not exceed your limit. Try to focus on the big picture, making good choices day after day that will add up over time and allow you to genuinely enjoy what you eat. For more about National Nutrition Month and ways to “Get Your Plate in Shape” log on to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at www.eatright.org
If you’d like Family Food to help you get your plate in shape, feel free to contact us by phone or e-mail, or leave us a message on Facebook or Twitter. Depending on your insurace, you could be eligible for SIX FREE VISITS with one of our registered dietitians!