Staying Healthy tips: Nutrition

New Year’s resolutions often include a resolve to get healthier, by moving more or eating better.  Staying Healthy is a great health literacy tool to teach about good nutrition.  According to Florida’s adult ESOL learners, learning about healthy eating habits is the most important tool gained from the Staying Healthy section of adult literacy courses.

Staying Healthy’s chapter on nutrition explains about important nutrients, how to decipher a nutrition label, what to eat, what not to eat, and how to determine a healthy weight using the BMI scale.  When teaching about nutrition, there are a few simple tips that make nutrition easy to understand:

1.  Aim for more fruits and vegetables (5 to 9 per day), more fiber (20 grams per day), and less sodium (less than 1,200 milligrams per day).  Try to incorporate whole-grains.  Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products instead of their full-fat counterparts.

2.  Balance calories by enjoying your food, but eating less.  Avoid oversize portions.  The plate rule, promoted by the FDA and Michelle Obama, is an easy way to do this at meal time.  Half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables, one quarter o the plate should be whole grains, and one quarter of the plate should be protein.  See Figure 1.

Figure 1.  Plate Rule.  Source:  Choosemyplate.gov.

3.  Try frozen or canned fruits and vegetables if fresh produce is too expensive – just try to avoid added ingredients like sodium, sugar, butter, or sauces.

4.  Drink 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day.  Avoid sugary drinks.

Combined with moving more, these simple steps will put you on the right track toward staying healthy in the new year!

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