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Simple Changes You Can Make to Improve Your Nutrition

January 06, 2011

A well balanced diet, combined with regular physical activity, can help keep your body strong and healthy. It can also help prevent the development of many serious diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Fortunately, you don’t have to make sudden, drastic changes to your eating habits. Making several small changes over the course of a few weeks or months can really make a difference.

Since January is National Oatmeal Month, Quaker Oats has created a list of 31 simple ways – one for each day –  that you can give your eating habits a healthy makeover throughout the month of January and beyond.

  1. Don’t skip meals. Following a regular eating schedule makes it easier to monitor your diet and avoid become overly hungry.
  2. Start each day with a whole grain cereal, such as Quaker Oatmeal.
  3. Use skim milk instead of whole fat milk in your cereal.
  4. Keep your coffee simple. Adding ingredients such as cream, sugar, or chocolate can add a lot of extra fat and/or calories.
  5. Add fresh fruit and granola to low-fat yogurt to make a more balanced meal.
  6. Pack your lunch instead of hitting the vending machines at lunchtime.
  7. Substitute a side salad for fries with your sandwich when you are eating lunch.
  8. Top a baked potato with salsa instead of butter and sour cream.
  9. When you’re ordering a sandwich, substitute mustard for mayonnaise.
 10. Eat the edible skins of fruits and vegetables for extra nutrients and fiber.
 11. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Sample a new fruit or vegetable that you’ve never tried before.
 12. Choose lean cuts of poultry, fish or white meat pork rather than fatty red meats.
 13. Ask your butcher to trim any excess fat from your meat selections.
 14. Don’t fry meats, try grilling or broiling them instead.
 15. Use oils such as olive and canola, instead of butter when cooking to help lower saturated fat intake.
 16. Top whole-wheat spaghetti with a marinara style sauce instead of a cream-based sauce.
 17. Steam or bake your vegetables instead of boiling them so they keep more of their flavors.
 18. Add extra vegetables to your favorite soups, salads and stews.
 19. Use fresh herbs and spices to season your food instead of salt.
 20. Add oats, whole-wheat flour or wheat germ to your favorite meatloaf, bread or muffin recipes.
 21. Eat a small salad or piece of fresh fruit before you go out to dinner so you aren’t feeling famished.
 22. To avoid overeating at a restaurant, cut your entrée in half and take the second portion home.
 23. Make a nutritious smoothie by blending fresh fruit, skim milk and a few ice cubes in a blender.
 24. For variety, try a small handful (1 ounce) of almonds or walnuts for a crunchy snack – they contain essential nutrients. But, watch the amount of nuts you eat – they also are a concentrated source of calories.
 25. Keep lower fat snacks, such as crunchy vegetable sticks, unbuttered popcorn, or cut fruit on hand instead of cookies and crackers.
 26. Thirst can be misinterpreted as hunger, so drink enough water each day to help keep your body hydrated.
 27. Start reading the nutrition labels on the packages of foods that you buy.
 28. Take your time when you are eating to help avoid overeating.
 29. Don’t label any food as off-limits. If you eat a piece of chocolate cake, simply adjust your caloric intake for the rest of the day to account for it.
 30. Avoid doing other activities while you are eating, such as watching television or reading the newspaper.
 31. Buy portion-controlled foods. There are many single-serving sized prepackaged foods available at the grocery store, including cereal, applesauce, fruit cups and soups.

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