Division of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources
Get the most out of your calories
As we celebrate National Nutrition Month® during March, eating nutrient-rich foods that provide the most nutrition per calorie is one way to keep with the month’s theme of “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” said Janice Hermann, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist.
“The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to choose the most nutritionally packed foods you can from each of the five MyPlate food groups each day,” Hermann said. “Selecting nutrient-rich foods and beverages that provide vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and other essential nutrients with as few calories as possible will put you on the healthy eating track.”
Including foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, fat-free or low-fat dairy, beans, nuts and seeds in the appropriate amounts will help you get many nutrients your body needs, all while keeping calorie consumption in check.
There are some easy ways to add some punch to healthy foods you may already be consuming. Add slices of tomato, avocado and cucumber to a turkey, ham or chicken sandwich made with whole-grain bread.
Hermann also suggests serving meals that pack multiple nutrient-rich foods into one dish.
“Hearty broth-based soups can be loaded with vegetables, beans and lean meat. Avoid cream-based soups because they contain a lot of extra calories,” she said.
For some people, snacking can be a hard thing to keep under control. Spend a few minutes cutting up and bagging vegetables for a quick snack. Carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas, edamame and broccoli or cauliflower flowerets are just a few great healthy choices. These fresh veggies can be paired with a low-fat dip for some extra flavor.
Try to limit added sugars and the major sources of solid fats. Cut back on regular sodas, fruit drinks and sports drinks because they are loaded with sugar. Cakes, cookies, ice cream, cheese and fatty meats such as sausages, hotdogs and bacon also should be consumed on a limited basis.
Those with a sweet tooth can enjoy a tasty treat by blending fresh or frozen mango, plain low-fat milk, ice and a splash of pineapple juice. Another option is to stir a teaspoon of chocolate syrup into a cup of coffee-flavored yogurt, then freeze for a sweet, frozen treat.
“You certainly don’t have to give up your favorite foods entirely. Instead, find ways to enjoy them in small amounts on occasion,” Hermann said. “Get started on a path to a healthier you during National Nutrition Month® by making nutrient-rich foods and beverages your choices on a daily basis.”
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.
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