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Simple Steps for Healthful Eating

Nutrition, From Our Kitchen

With all the conflicting advice about how to eat and what foods can best contribute to a healthful lifestyle, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) wants to make it easier to eat well, so they have produced a handy pamphlet called "10 Simple Steps." 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.

The guide is not available to the public, but a USDA brochure about balanced eating is available here. Here is a look at the first five of the ADA's 10 Simple Steps. The rest of the suggestions will appear in a subsequent post.

Step 1: Size your servings right. Americans tend to consume more food than is necessary. So watch portion size, and fill two-thirds of your plate with vegetables and whole grains.

Step 2: Switch out the saturated fat. Improve your diet by limiting cholesterol intake to 300 mg per day, and substitute monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats for saturated fats. This can be achieved by choosing lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Read food labels and don't buy anything containing trans fats.

Step 3: Cook at home more often. Home-cooking allows you to control the ingredients, and thus the nutritional value, of your meals.

Step 4: Make room for fruits and vegetables. Most Americans consume about half the daily recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. Choosing a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, and keeping them cut up and handy for snacking, makes it easier to enjoy these important foods.

Step 5: Cut back on salt. This is good advice for almost everyone. No one should consume more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, and older adults and individuals with some chronic illnesses should keep it to 1,500 mg. Processed foods are often loaded with sodium, so read labels carefully.

Stay tuned for more hints on healthful eating.

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