As January begins, many people set goals to improve their health, and often that involves eating a healthier diet. You can enjoy your meals while making small adjustments to the amounts of food on your plate. Which of these tips will work for you? Set a small goal.
- Get to know the foods you eat.
- Get tips and support for making better food choices from your local Extension office.
- Take your time.
- Be mindful to eat slowly, enjoy the taste and textures, and pay attention to how you feel. Use hunger and fullness cues to recognize when to eat and when you’ve had enough.
- Use a smaller plate.
- Use a smaller plate at meals to help with portion control.
- If you eat out, choose healthier options.
- Check and compare nutrition information about the foods you are eating. Preparing food at home makes it easier to control what is in your meals.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way.
- Indulge in a naturally sweet dessert—fruit! Serve a fresh fruit cocktail or a fruit parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top with cinnamon.
- Choose to eat some foods more or less often.
- Choose more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or 1% milk and dairy products. Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt.
- Find out what you need.
- Get your personalized plan at www.choosemyplate.gov
- Sip smarter.
- Drink water or other calorie-free beverages, 100% juice, or fat-free milk when you are thirsty.
- Compare foods.
- Compare Nutrition Facts labels at the grocery store.
- Make treats “treats,” not everyday foods.
- Have a smaller piece, and limit sweet treats to special occasions.
Here’s an easy dinner meal that assembles quickly.
Easy Taco Casserole
1 (16-ounce) can refried beans (fat-free)
1 pound lean or extra-lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 4-ounce can diced chilies
1/2 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning
2 (12-ounce) cans enchilada sauce (divided)
1 (16-ounce) package baked tortilla chips, crumbled coarsely
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (reduced-fat)
Optional toppings: salsa, fat-free sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat beans in a microwave-safe bowl for 3 minutes; set aside. Brown ground beef with onions and garlic powder; drain. Add ½ packet of taco seasoning and 1/3 can of enchilada sauce: mix, remove from heat and set aside. Spray a 9- by 11-inch pan, then layer the ingredients: crumbled chips, meat mixture, refried beans, enchilada sauce and cheese. Repeat layers twice, leaving some enchilada sauce and cheese for the top layer. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and slice into 10 pieces.
Each serving has 360 calories, 8 grams (g) of fat, 52 g of carbohydrate, 6 g of fiber and 1,100 milligrams of sodium.
(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson)