Make the move to a healthier life for the health of it

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, June 25, 2011

On June 2, “My Plate” was released as a replacement for the Food Pyramid by the USDA.

It serves as a good basis for meal planning for health. For years, registered dietitians have been recommending this way of eating.

Not only does this way of eating reduce calories by relying on more nutrient-dense, less-caloric fruits and vegetables, but it also increases the fiber content of a meal, leaving you feeling fuller longer and less likely to grab for additional portions of higher-calorie side items.

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One of the most frequent comments I hear from customers who have changed their way of eating by incorporating more fruits and vegetables is that they “feel better.” You can, too, and here are some great ways to move towards a healthy plate:

• Balance your calories by going to to find your calorie level. Being physically active also helps you balance your calories.

• Enjoy your food, but eat less (my favorite). It’s not about the food police watching your every move; it’s about your taking responsibility for what goes in your body. Enjoy the little indulgences every once in a while, but balance the portion size.

• Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl or glass. Try measuring foods before you put them on your plate to gauge how well you are doing.

• Eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fat-free or low fat dairy more often (notice how vegetables are first). These foods have the necessary nutrients for health — make them the base of your meals.

• Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables (I like half plate healthy). Choose the boldest colors like red, orange and dark green every day if you can.

• Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk (1 percent). The calcium remains the same but with fewer calories and less saturated fat (artery-clogging type).

• Make your grains whole grains. Try one with every meal.

• Watch the salt. It has been said that 90 percent of middle-age adults will develop high blood pressure. Now is the time to make changes for prevention, instead of waiting for a diagnosis. Choose no-salt-added products more often; they taste just as good.

• Drink water. Our bodies need it and we can significantly reduce calories by choosing more water over sugary drinks.

The time is now. What can you do today to make an impact on your health?

Chicken stuffing salad

Serves 4

All you need

1 (12 oz) bag romaine lettuce

2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken

2 tbsp Hy-Vee slivered almonds

1 cup Hy-Vee seasoned croutons

1/2 cup Hy-Vee dried cranberries

1/2 cup light raspberry vinaigrette

All you do

1. Combine lettuce, chicken, almonds, croutons and cranberries.

2. Drizzle with vinaigrette before serving and toss gently to coat.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 160 calories, 6 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 17 g sugar, 2 g protein.