10 Tips For Making Healthier Food Choices

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on September 18, 2012

Hi Everyone! I hope you’re all having a great week. Today’s post about making healthier food choices was inspired by this image:

Which most of you have probably seen – it’s the USDA’s new “food pyramid” – which gives you guidance on how to structure a healthier plate. But what does this image actually mean in terms of making healthier food choices?

Here are 10 tips for how to apply this image in your daily life

Tip #1: Balance your calories. How many calories do you actually need every day? Here are a couple resources that will help guide you: Calorie Calculator for Women and Men; and a holistic health tracker that you can use to track what you eat and how many calories you need.

Tip #2: Enjoy your food, but eat mindfully. Take the time to fully enjoy your food while you’re eating it (instead of just devouring everything on your plate). Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues before, during and after meals. Be mindful of them and use them to tell you when you’re full. And if you happen to get full before you finish everything on your plate, that’s ok! Save it for leftovers later.

Tip #3: Avoid oversized portions. Try using a smaller plate, bowl and glass. You’ll be surprised how you naturally end up eating a little less. When you’re eating out, try splitting a dish or take home part of your meal.

Tip #4: Foods to eat more often. These are all the foods you know are good for you: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, etc. Make them the basis for meals and snacks. Try getting 2 cups of veggies, 1.5 cups of fruit and 3 servings of low fat dairy or lean protein each day.

Tip #5: Cut back on foods to eat less often. These are foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt (e.g. cakes, cookies, ice cream, pizza, fast food, sweetened drinks, etc.) Use these as an occasional treat vs. part of your daily meal intake.

Tip #6: Hydrate with healthy liquids. Drink water, sparkling water mixed with a splash of juice, tea, or sparkling water instead of sugary drinks. Sugary drinks include soda, juices, energy drinks and sports drinks.

Tip #7: Choose low-fat dairy. For everyday purposes, 1% milk is the better choice over whole milk. And low-fat cheese is a good substitute for full-fat cheese (although if you use a smaller quantity – 2/3 the amount of low fat cheese, full fat cheese can be ok too!)

Tip #8: Pay attention to added sodium in foods. Look at labels and choose the lower sodium option for breads, canned goods, and soups. Choose packaged products with labels like “low sodium,” “no salt added,” or “reduced sodium.”

Tip #9: Shop with a grocery list and don’t go grocery shopping hungry! If you only buy the foods you need to make your meals at home, you’ll be less likely to indulge and eat that whole bag of chips later. And if you’re not hungry when you’re grocery shopping, you’ll be less likely to buy those guilty pleasures like cookies, donuts, candy, etc. that you don’t really need.

Tip #10: Eat a small amount of healthy fats every day. When you’re cooking, choose oils high in monounsaturated fats like olive or canola oil (usually 1 Tbsp for cooking is enough). Use a pump oil spray like a MISTO instead of canned cooking sprays that have chemicals or propellants. Avoid products containing trans fats (look at the label for “hydrogenated oil or shortening”).

Hopefully these tips will help you to balance your calories, choose foods to eat more often, and cut back on foods to eat less often. Happy healthy eating!

This post was sponsored by Hallmark Care Homes

 

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings September 19, 2012 at 6:46 am

#3 and #9 and are hardest for me!!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 19, 2012 at 10:19 am

That totally makes sense! For #3 – you’d be surprised how easy it is to eat smaller portions if you just use a smaller plate. You end up feeling just as satisfied and it’s like automatic portion control! For #9 – I struggle with that too! It takes some serious willpower to resist temptation if you go grocery shopping hungry! Try eating a full meal before you go next time, and let me know if that helps 🙂

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Ross September 19, 2012 at 7:35 am

@Elizabeth, I know you what you mean re. point 9. It’s amazing what a difference is going food shopping after or before you’ve just ate. If I go just after I’ve ate, all of a sudden a lot of the food doesn’t seem very appealing to buy! If I’m hungry, everything looks like a good deal and really tasty.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 19, 2012 at 10:19 am

I totally agree with you Ross! I make it a point to eat before I go shopping now because it makes such a big difference!

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eisha September 20, 2012 at 8:19 am

This is why I love your blog!!!! It’s just what I needed 🙂

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 20, 2012 at 8:24 am

Awww I’m so glad to hear that! Thanks Eisha!

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Clayton Stitzel September 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Many people don’t think about their liquid calorie intake. The best bet is to drink water. Even cutting down on drinking sugary drinks a few days a week can make a difference.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm

That’s exactly right Clayton! I usually stick to water or tea, or sparkling unsweetened water is great if you want a fizzy drink. Sometimes you can sweeten it slightly with just a splash of juice – and it ends up tasting like a fruit soda without all of the extra sugar/calories!

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Margaret @ WellnessCircle September 27, 2012 at 3:43 am

These are really great tips Anjali! As for me, it’s really hard to maintain a healthy diet, I’ve been trying it several times before and I still ended up just starting it and getting back to my food choices before. But I am working on taking it slow right now, I’m slowing getting rid of sugary drinks. Will really take into mind this image that you have here, it’s a plus motivation for a healthy diet goal. Well, go for the goal! 😀

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Thanks Margaret! I’m so glad these tips are helpful to you as you progress on your journey to a healthier life 🙂 Taking it slow is totally the right approach – just remember: everything in moderation, and don’t be too hard on yourself! Good luck and let me know how it goes!

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Scott @ The Healthy Eating Guide October 10, 2012 at 8:22 am

This pretty much sums up what I try and tell people who ask me me how to eat healthier. I think the best advice I’ve heard is the closure to nature you eat, the better. Thanks, Anjali.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Sounds like we are very aligned in our food philosophies Scott! And I totally agree – what you said reminds me of Michael Pollan’s mantra – “eat food. not too much. mostly plants.” 🙂

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Pili @thigh fat December 11, 2013 at 4:36 am

Great tips to keeping a healthy diet Anjali! I would add one more that is to hold a clear picture of the end result.
I have always motivated myself when I can see the result I want to get and see why I am sacrificing certains ingredients or food. To my mind, to have the motive that lies behind all of this is the key to lose weight or to get fit.
By the way, Great blog!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater December 11, 2013 at 8:12 am

Thanks Phil! And I totally agree with your tip as well — focusing on the end goal absolutely helps with motivation!

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