Fill you cart the same way you fill your plate (half your cart with fruits & vegetables). Emphasis on fresh produce. Fruits & Vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense and also very low in calories, which is a Win Win. They are found in many forms:
- 100% fruit or vegetable juice (limit serving size to 8oz)
Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products (aim for 3 servings per day) such as:
- Skim milk or 1% milk, low-fat
- Reduced fat cheeses
- Plain fat-free Greek yogurt, low-fat yogurts
Grains, Breads, & Cereals:
- Half of your servings of grains should be whole grains.
- Read food labels on these products to make sure that the first ingredient states that it is “whole grain” or made with “whole-wheat” flour….It should NOT have the word “enriched” on the label. Look for the whole grain stamp.
- Grains can be an important source of fiber, but be sure to look for products that have 3 grams or more per serving of fiber.
- Examples: Quinoa, barley, bulgur, brown rice, whole-grain cereals, corn tortillas, whole-wheat wraps, etc.
Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs, & Non-Meat Protein Alternatives:
- Choose meats with the words “round” or “loin” (these are the best cuts) or “choice” or “select.” Try to stay above 90% lean ground meats for reducing total and saturated fat content.
- Aim for at least 2 servings of fatty-fish per week or more (i.e. tuna, salmon, etc.).
- Choose white meat poultry (For example: Lean ground turkey “breast” as opposed to lean ground turkey) and boneless, skinless chicken breast is best.
- Eggs are a great source of complete protein…Limit yourself to no more than 5 eggs per week unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
- Watch your portion sizes with meat/fish/poultry/eggs because these foods are calorie dense and should be portioned to no more than ¼ of your plate. As a rule of thumb keep your meat (especially red meat) portions to the size of a deck of cards or around 3-4 oz (may even consider cutting this size in half if you have a family history or personal history of heart disease).
- Nuts and nut butters, seeds, legumes, and beans are also a good source of protein and fiber. Remember that nuts and seeds are also calorie dense and you should limit yourself to approximately 1/3 cup per day.
Choose Heart-Healthy Fats: We need fat in our diet to keep us healthy and to help absorb essential vitamins; however some fats are better for your health than others. Heart healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil contain monounsaturated fats, which help to decrease total and LDL (aka “Bad”) cholesterol in our bodies.
- Olives and Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Sesame oil
- Nut oils
Canned foods: Keep your pantry stocked with no-salt added and no-sugar added canned fruits, vegetables, broths, stocks, canned fish (light or packed in water) and beans. Look for canned soups by comparing labels and compare labels to find a lower sodium soup option.
Frozen Foods: Frozen foods and healthy meals can be found in this section. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and just as nutritious as fresh produce. Frozen foods are convenient, economical, and have a longer shelf life. Some guidelines for frozen meals are: Under 4 grams of saturated fat, trans-fat free, less than 500 calories, at least 5 grams of fiber, and aim for less than 500 milligrams of sodium.
- Frozen, steamable vegetables, frozen no-sugar added fruits
- Whole grain dinner rolls & sprouted grain breads
- Vegetarian options such as veggie & black bean-based burgers & veggie-based breakfast sausages
- Compare labels on frozen meals to find ones that are lower in sodium & added sugars and look for whole grain options as well.
- Add a side of steamed veggies, fresh fruit or low-fat yogurt to accompany your frozen meal to make it a more filling choice.
- Look for individual portion sizes of frozen, calorie-dense foods such as pizza, ice cream, and other frozen novelties
- Portion controlled ice cream cups or sandwiches, 100% frozen fruit bars, and slow churned style ice creams are usually a better option, but always compare labels to find ones that are lower in sugar, calories, and fat to find the best option for you.
Beverages: Water is always the best choice for keeping hydrated, unsweetened teas, coffee, 100% fruit and vegetable juices in moderation. Limit all sodas (both diet and regular) and alcohol should be consumed in moderation (considered no more than 1 drink per day for females and no more than 2 drinks per day for males). Pay attention to serving sizes on caloric beverages and limit yourself to a smaller serving such as only 8oz of 100% fruit juice.
Snacks, Condiments, Etc: Your snacks should have a balance of complex carbohydrates, fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats. As a general rule of thumb, choose snacks containing less than 200 calories such as:
- Apples + peanut butter
- Whole-grain crackers + low-fat string cheese
- Fresh fruit + low-fat yogurt
Try to stock your pantry and refrigerator with healthier condiments such as guacamole, pesto, mustard, salsa, hummus, hot sauce, natural peanut butter, and heart healthy oil and vinegar-based salad dressings.