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09/23/11

More Simple Steps for Healthful Eating

In an earlier post, we offered suggestions from "10 Simple Steps," a nutrition education brochure published by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The guide is based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

Here are the final five "simple steps" for healthful eating.

Step 6: Watch for solid fats and added sugar. According to the new USDA Dietary Guidelines, Americans eat too many foods containing saturated fats and added sugar and too few nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood, eggs and nuts.

To improve health, the USDA recommends reducing consumption of solid fats by limiting grain-based desserts, such as cakes, pies, cookies and donuts; full-fat cheese; sausage, hot dogs, bacon and ribs; pizza; fried white potatoes; butter, and dairy-based desserts, such as full-fat ice cream.

To reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet, limit consumption of regular soda, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy-based desserts and candy.

Step 7: Enjoy more seafood and choose a variety of protein-rich foods. Consuming a variety of healthful proteins is recommended. Increase the amount of seafood you eat; seek out lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry, and expand your diet to include more eggs, beans, peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds. Cooking techniques such as broiling, grilling and roasting are preferable to frying.

Step 8: Make half your grains whole. Whole grains contain dietary fiber, iron and B vitamins, and there are many delicious and satisfying varieties from which to choose. When selecting grains, check the ingredient list and choose "whole grain" or "whole wheat." Some examples of whole grains are oatmeal, bulgur, brown rice, popcorn (but watch the butter and salt!), quinoa, buckwheat and wild rice.

Step 9: Keep your food safe. Following proper food safety practices in your kitchen can help prevent food-borne illness. It's critical to keep your hands, utensils and work surfaces clean and maintain food at proper temperatures are critical. Find detailed steps for keeping food safe here.

Step 10: Move more. Physical activity and a healthful diet go hand-in-hand. The Dietary Guidelines recommend two to five hours of moderately intense exercise or 90 minutes to five hours of vigorous exercise per week. Adding strengthening exercises twice a week enhances this exercise program.

For cardiovascular fitness, choose an activity you enjoy, such as brisk walking, jogging, dancing, cycling or a group exercise class. For strengthening and toning, work your muscles through exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, rowing and circuit weight training. Look forward to that time to do something good for yourself, and stick to your routine for best results.

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