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From Me to Oprah: 31 Simple Tips & Tricks to Boost Your Nutritional Fitness

March 1, 2010

As the 2010 Winter Olympics have just come to a close, the American Dietetic Association’s annual National Nutrition Month is finally here. To celebrate NNM’s theme, From the Ground Up, I was inspired to put together a simple list of 31 tips and tricks to help you boost your nutritional fitness this month and beyond. It is my hope that after reading these 31 simple do’s, you’ll be inspired to try one each day for the entire month, or at the very least infuse several of these into your life more often. If you do, you’ll likely lose weight and feel energized and great, not to mention markedly improve the overall quality of your diet. Please post comments about those tips you find most helpful and how you incorporated them. Eat well and enjoy!

1. Try one new food today from the fruit group. Fresh, canned, dried or frozen varieties are all fine (but make sure none contain added fat or sugar).
2. Drink at least 4 to 6 8 ounce cups of plain water. Keep a water bottle on hand that you can refill and be sure to wash thoroughly at day’s end.
3. Have at least 1 cup of non-starchy, dark green vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine, kale, or spinach, for example).
4. Have at least 1/2 cup of beans or peas, preferably in a low sodium form.
5. Have two healthful snacks each day that cover two food groups; examples include one green apple, sliced with 1 tbsp nut butter, or 1/2 cup low fat yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup berries.
6. Drink at least one or two cups of skim or 1% milk; have it by the glass, in cereal, in coffee, or in recipes.
7. Limit alcohol to no more than about 100 calories (about 5 ounces of wine, 1-1/2 ounces distilled spirits, or 12 ounces of light beer).
8. Plan a treat that adds up to 100 calories (two small cookies, or 4 Hershey Kisses for example).
9. Leave a few extra bites on your plate at all meals.
10. Drink all caloric beverages out of an 8 ounce cup ONLY.
11. Have an ounce of nuts or seeds (preferably raw and unsalted) as part of a snack or meal.
12. Don’t waste more than one bite on any food that doesn’t taste good (or is not worth the calories).
13. Have breakfast within an hour or two of waking up; include 1 cup low fat/skim milk, 1/2 ounce nuts/seeds or 1 Tbsp nut butter or 1 egg, and at least one whole grain (oatmeal, whole wheat cereal, whole grain bread or English muffin or pita).
14. Eat only while sitting down at a table.
15. Brush teeth/rinse with mouthwash after each meal; floss at least once during the day.
16. Make a big salad (2 cups worth) with lots of colorful non-starchy vegetables.
17. Have 4-6 ounces of fish, healthfully prepared (unbreaded, unfried).
18. Have a 1 ounce equivalent (oz Eq) of whole grains each time you eat. 1 oz Eq = 1 slice of whole wheat bread, 5 small whole grain crackers, 3 cups air-popped popcorn, 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta or brown or wild rice.
19. Go meatless for the day; incorporate other protein-rich foods like beans, soy foods like tofu or tempeh, low fat dairy foods, and whole grains.
20. Try one new food today from the vegetable group; opt for something bright in color (bright green, orange, or yellow).
21. Instead of going out to eat, ordering in, or getting take out, cook or prepare all your food at home for the day.
22. Have 1 cup of soup. Look for broth- or vegetable-based kinds, preferably with less than 400-500 mg sodium.
23. Replace your usual 100% fruit juice with 1 cup or a piece of fresh fruit (like a whole orange, apple, or cup of berries or pineapple).
24. Instead of cooking with salt, try to flavor food with sodium-free herbs and spices.
25. Instead of having your usual fruit-on-the-bottom or flavored yogurt, go for plain low- or non-fat yogurt (or Greek yogurt) and add 1/2 cup of berries, 1-2 tbsp of nuts, seeds, or dried fruit, or 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce.
26. Before having your usual bed-time or after dinner treat, ask yourself “Am I really hungry or am I eating this out of habit?” If the answer is no, skip it and instead brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash to end your day of eating.
27. Instead of a whole sandwich, have only half; balance the meal out with fresh fruit or some grilled or raw veggies.
28. Turn off all disractions (including your cell phone) at every meal and snack; really focus on your food.
29. Clean out your refrigerator and freezer (and of course throw away all spoiled or expired food).
30. Clean out your pantry (throw out all spoiled and expired food).
31. Think about what you should eat more of, not what you shouldn’t eat.

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