Kittle: Tips on how to eat a healthy, balanced diet

Eating well involves eating a balanced diet to help you meet your body's needs.

“Processed foods not only extend the shelf life, but they extend the waistline as well.”

—Karen Sessions

Eating well involves eating a balanced diet to help you meet your needs for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, and to reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes certain types of cancer, osteoporosis and obesity.

Eating well contributes to your overall health and vitality.

The Canada Food Guide provides the best example on how to eat healthy including all four food groups

The daily requirements for men and women 50+ include seven servings of vegetables and fruit, six to seven servings of grain products, three servings of milk and milk alternatives, and two to three servings of meat and alternatives.

It may sound like a lot of food, but a normal serving size may surprise you.

For example, one  serving of fresh vegetables or fruit is 1/2 cup or 1/2 cup of fruit juice.

One serving of grain products includes one slice of bread or 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta.

One serving of milk or milk alternatives can be one cup of milk or soy beverage or 1 1/2 ounce cheese.

One serving of meat and meat alternatives can look like 1/2 cup poultry or lean meat or two tablespoons of peanut butter.

Choose to eat a variety of foods from each food group and limit processed and packaged foods.

Choosing grain products that are lower in fat sugar and salt, such as  whole grain breads, barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa and wild rice.

Go for dark green vegetables like broccoli spinach and Romaine lettuce, orange vegetables like carrots sweet potatoes and squash.

Also, aim to choose lower fat dairy products.

Drink two cups of milk every day for adequate vitamin D.

Choose lean meat and alternatives such as chicken, salmon, beans lentils and tofu.

Bake, roast or poach with little or no added fat.

Try to avoid luncheon meat sausage and prepackaged meats.

Compare nutritional facts on food labels to choose products that contain less fat, saturated fat,  trans fat, sugar and sodium.

In addition to smaller portions, you can boost the nutritional value of your meal simply by making these simple swaps.

Swap a side of garlic cheese toast for additional bell peppers, broccoli, or peas in your meal.

Swap mashed potatoes for a bed of spinach or other leafy greens.

Swap a stir-fry or fried rice for steamed vegetables and chicken, fish or shrimp with steamed brown.

Swap alfredo or pesto sauce for marinara.

Swap out half of your pasta for additional fresh tomatoes and green vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, broccoli or celery

And don’t forget to drink enough water.

Along with following a healthy diet, seniors over the age of 50 should supplement with a daily vitamin D and calcium.

The Canada Food Guide also offers a food guide tracker to help you keep track of your servings and diet.

For more information about the Canada Food Guide, check out www.healthcanada.gc.ca/food.

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