When you have written over 30 books on nutrition, it is not surprising that people frequently ask, “What’s your best eating advice.” Here it is in a nutshell – short, simple and to the point.
Eat less, but enjoy what you eat.
Food should be a pleasurable experience, but, sadly, portions have grown enormously in the last 20 years. The average muffin used to be 1.5 ounces (210 calories). Today it is often 4 ounces (500 calories) or bigger. Keep in mind, all this super-sizing may be super-sizing you.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
This is a no-brainer. Fruits and vegetables are nature’s nutrition powerhouses – low in calories, with little if any fat, no cholesterol, and chock full of vitamins, minerals and powerful disease fighting phytochemicals. The more you eat the better. Keep in mind, French fries and ketchup don’t count.
Eat whole grains instead of refined carbs (like white bread).
Whole grains are the real deal made up of the entire grain kernel. The germ is rich in vitamins and minerals and can sprout into a new plant. The endosperm, the largest part, is made of up carbohydrate and protein. The bran, the outer layer, is mostly fiber. Fiber feeds the friendly bacteria that grow in your intestines and helps to protect you against unfriendly invaders. Aim for at least 3 servings a day.
Eat less sugar but you don’t have to give it up.
Most of us enjoy sweets, and why not, they taste good. But, we are overdoing it. The average American eats over 23 teaspoons of sugar a day; teenagers eat more. That equals 400 calories! Grains, fruits, vegetables, milk and yogurt all contain sugar. These are natural sugars that come along with the vitamins, minerals and fiber also found in those foods. In contrast, soda, candy, fruit drinks, cakes, ice cream and jelly offer little more than sweetness and calories. All these foods contain added sugar.
Eat more good fats like olive oil, fish, and nuts.
These foods contain healthy monounsaturated fats and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Use olive oil in cooking and salad dressings. Aim for at least 2 servings of fish a week. Go nuts – keep serving sizes to a handful and enjoy them as a snack; a far better choice than a candy bar or chips.
Eat lean proteins.
Fish, chicken without the skin, lean beef, pork and lamb are lean protein choices with less saturated fat. Keep serving sizes to 4 ounces and fill the rest of your dinner plate with whole grains and vegetables.
Enjoy a glass of wine, but not the whole bottle.
Alcohol is a double-edged sword. A little can be healthy but a lot can be damaging. One drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks for men appears to protect your heart. Caution: as we get older, less is best, and many experts recommend no more than 1 drink a day for all over 55.
Move more and move often.
Find ways to be active throughout the day. Americans don’t move enough. They drive-thru to get food or go to the bank and post office. Park instead at the furthest end of the parking lot and walk. Activity burns calories. Activity builds muscle and bone. Everything counts: walking, gardening, golf, bike riding, even housework. Just keep moving throughout the day. Activity is the key to a long and healthy life. Keep in mind – the average American watches 23 hours of TV a week. Don’t sit your life away.