There is no doubt that what you eat affects the way you feel, not only today but in the future.  It is import to remember that what you eat shouldn’t just satisfy your urge to eat, but should nourish you and give you energy!

To expand upon the USDA Food Pyramid, Harvard Medical School developed the Healthy Eating Plate with updated information on a well-balanced diet. The Healthy Eating Plate is visually friendly and shows how our food and drink choices affect our health. So next time you’re preparing your breakfast, lunch or dinner, remember this plate!

Below are even more tips to achieving a balanced meal:

When eating grains, stick to whole grains: This is any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, and help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases!

  • Make simple switches like brown rice instead of white.
  • Check the label for fiber− good sources will contain 10% to 19%. Mix it up!

Vary your vegetables: Eating your veggies is important because they can give you vitamins and minerals while still being low in calories. They should take up the most space on your plate, the more vegetables the better.

  • Try cutting up bell peppers, carrots or broccoli and pre-package them for on the go.
  • Choose vegetables that are colorful− don’t just eat green.

Focus on fruit! Fruits provide nutrients important for health, such as potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts here! Fruits may be fresh, canned, whole, cut-up, dried or pureed (Just be conscious of additives when using dried, canned, and frozen fruit. One can of peaches in sugary syrup isn’t as good as a fresh peach).

  • Include fruit in your bowl of cereal or yogurt.
  • Pack up grapes or a banana for a side for lunch.
  • Bring an apple with you to class for a snack.

Get your calcium-rich foods: These foods can be milk, yogurt, cheese, and even soymilk. They give you calcium, potassium, protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients needed for good health in life. Although they aren’t shown on the plate above, adults need about 3 servings a day of dairy, and only 1-2 should be consumed as a drink.

  • If you’re a milk drinker, try skim milk instead of whole.
  • When cooking, substitute plain yogurt for sour cream, or ricotta cheese for cream cheese.
  • Love caffeine? Add milk or soy milk to your morning coffee to get your calcium along with that energy boost.

Go lean with protein: Believe it or not protein foods can include both animal and plant sources. These would be meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. Switch up these choices to get your protein fix. Proteins should take about the same space on your plate as whole grains−remember not to make it the main focus.

  • Eat red meat in moderation− substitute with lean, white means like turkey.
  • Try seafood once a week.
  • Remember that nuts and seeds make good snacks, so grab some trail mix to go!

Written by Christina Migdalias, Peer Educator