· Timing: To keep you going, you should have small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day. Eat within 45 min. – 1 hour of waking up to increase your metabolism in the morning.
People that eat breakfast have been shown to be less likely to overeat later in the day and weigh less than those who skip breakfast.
Eat a meal or snack about every 3 or 4 hours: eating small, frequent keeps your metabolism steady, so you never crash.
· Balance: Shoot for balance between the food groups in every meal and snack. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are all processed in our bodies at different rates and we use their energy at different times after a meal. A meal or snack that combines protein, carbohydrates, and fat will fuel your body for about 3 to 4 hours, until it’s time to fuel up again.
For example, couple an apple with a string cheese. The carbohydrates and fiber from the apple will give you energy over the next hour or so, and the protein and fat will take over where the carbohydrates leave off. Other examples of balanced snacks are cheese and whole wheat crackers, ½ of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or whole grain cereal with milk.
At meals, balance your plate by having ½ of your plate filled with fruits and vegetables, ¼ of your plate with a protein source such as dairy, meats or beans, and ¼ of your plate with grains.
· Variety: Have a variety of different foods within each food group. For example, if the only vegetable we ate everyday were carrots, we’d get a lot of vitamin A, but we would miss out on nutrients that other vegetables could provide.
Eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables is a way to ensure that you are getting a variety of nutrients.
· Moderation: All foods can fit into a healthful meal plan. Anything can be unhealthy if we eat it in large quantities. Cookies can fit into a healthful meal plan unless you’re eating so many cookies that they are a big part of your intake and you’re missing out on other nutrients that other foods could provide you.
· Wholesomeness: In general, the more whole, non-processed foods we eat, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, dairy products, and beans, the more balanced intake we will have. Unprocessed foods tend to have less salt and more fiber.
Also, nutrients, called phytochemicals, have been found in whole foods such as fruits,vegetables and whole grains. Some evidence suggests that these phytochemicals may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Scientists think that these substances explain why certain foods prevent disease, but isolated vitamin supplements do not. When shopping, choose whole grains and less-processed items.