It seems so obvious. When you get a car, you regularly make sure the engine is clean and running on all cylinders. You clean filters and check plugs and battery connections. You change the oil, make sure other liquids are properly filled and check and inflate the tires to the appropriate pressure. You fill the tank with a specific grade of gasoline to increase its efficiency. You might even use all premium products.
Your body is also an intricate system that needs the right kind of fuel to run properly. Good nutrition is the place to start, and it isn’t as difficult as we often make it. Guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration are fairly simple, plus there are practical ways to make healthy choices.
- Fill your plate with vegetables and fruits. They are full of nutrients to help boost your energy.
- Include lean proteins: beef, chicken, pork, turkey, even beans and tofu. Twice a week, make seafood your choice of protein.
- Drink fat-free or low-fat milk instead of whole. You’ll benefit from the same amount of calcium with fewer calories.
- Make half your grains whole grains.
- Use healthy fats such as canola oil, olive oil and nonstick vegetable spray for cooking.
- Replace sweets with fruit.
- Use spices and herbs to flavor foods, rather than adding sugar and salt.
- Prepare nutritious foods in advance, so you don’t grab convenience foods that aren’t as healthy.
- Read the nutrition label. The Food and Drug Administration updated label requirments for packaged foods and beverages in 2016, its first revision in 20 years. Labels include calories, serving sizes, daily value percentages, nutrients and ingredients. Everything is based on new scientific research — one of the reasons “added sugars” is now included.