Planning healthy meals is important and should be based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid Food Guide recommendations. The following tips from Isabel Valentín-Oquendo, senior dietician, College of Medicine-OBGYN/WIC program, and Claudia Peñuela, EFNEP nutrition assistant, Department of Family Youth and Community Sciences Department at the University of Florida are helpful:
• Select more nutrient-dense foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They give you the nutrients you need with relatively fewer calories than other choices in the same food group. Examples include fat free milk instead of whole milk and fruit instead of fruit pastry.
• Try to add whole grains to each meal to achieve the daily recommendations.
• Try to eat fruits, and dark green and orange vegetables, with at least one meal per day.
• Choose one cup of milk or an equivalent from the milk group, like yogurt, at each meal. Choose fat-free or low-fat versions.
• Use meat alternatives, such as dried beans and peas, as often as possible.
• Combine meat or chicken with beans to increase fiber in your diet.
• Reduce or replace recipes items that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugars.
• Serve salads with your lunch or your dinner.
• Substitute fruit salads for a dessert, or add a fruit to each meal.
Be sure to choose foods that are colorful, flavorful, and that have different textures and shapes. This makes the meal more interesting