Throughout this Nutrition 101 series we’ve counted calories, compared carbs, and highlighted the pros of lean protein, healthy fats and a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Nutrition can be complicated enough, so to simplify things we compiled all of the infographics into one!
You can read the full text of each deep-dive post in the links above, but to summarize, here are my top 5 tips to help you eat more nutritiously:
1. When it comes to carbs–the more natural & whole, the better. Go for complex carbs like 100% whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice, starchy vegetables (just leave the nutrient-rich skins on those potatoes), legumes, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Limit simple sugars from refined grains, processed snack foods, sweets, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
2. Keep protein lean. It’s perfectly okay to indulge in breakfast sausage and cheeseburgers on occasion. But on an everyday basis, there are plenty of great lean proteins to choose from! Some good meat-free options include beans, peas, quinoa, lentils, tofu, low-fat yogurt and 1% milk. Fish is another great source of protein that can also be rich in healthy Omega-3s. And as far as meats go, cuts that have round, chuck, or loin in the name are usually leanest, along with chicken and turkey breast.
3. Make healthy fats your friend. Add avocados, nuts, seeds and nut butters and fatty fish like salmon into your weekly menu. Cook with oils like olive or grape seed instead of butter or lard. Make salad dressings with flaxseed oil for a healthy dose of Omega-3s. You can even substitute avocado for butter when baking!
4. Incorporate colorful foods into every meal. From dark greens to red berries, orange bell peppers and white onions, the colors in fruits, vegetables and even proteins are associated with important vitamins and minerals. Eating a rainbow of colorful foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is an great way to get a variety of micronutrients in your diet.
5. Make the most of your calories. Eat a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats at each meal and choose foods rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. A good way to do this is to fill your plate with 3-4 food groups at each meal. Eat a combination of protein foods, whole grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and incorporate the groups you miss into other meals and snacks throughout the day.
Nutrition can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, healthful eating does not mean eating perfectly. It’s about making more nutritious choices most of the time, nourishing our bodies with real food and enjoying the occasional treat along the way!
To get all of the details and read the individual posts, here they are broken down for your reading pleasure:
I hope you enjoyed the series and learned some nutrition basics in the process. If you have a specific nutrition question, feel free to leave it in the comments. The questions with the most votes will inspire my future posts!
Elle Penner, M.P.H., R.D., is the Registered Dietitian and Food & Nutrition Editor at MyFitnesssPal, as well as an active runner and food-enthusiast. For more healthy recipes and fitness inspiration, check out her healthy lifestyle blog and connect with her on Pinterest & Twitter.
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