Finding nutritious food sources doesn’t have to be a hassle when a planned approach is taken constructively. The US federal government provides a comprehensive food guide called My Plate that is a great source of information to start on the journey towards healthier, more nutritious eating. An additional source of nutritional guidance can be found through an organization called ETR whose mission is to “improve health and increase opportunities for youth, families and communities. (https://www.etr.org/about-us/)”
ETR offers ‘My Plate on a Budget’ which is a pamphlet that features “creative, practical, and positive ways to eat well for less [money]” and offers tips on things like grocery shopping, meal planning, and portion control. This article will briefly discuss some of these recommendations to help you transition towards more nutrient-dense meals and snacks and provide clarity among some of the conflicting and often debilitating information that is circling the health and fitness space today.
My Plate, In a Nutshell:
- Eat more fruits and veggies.
Eating more fruits and veggies will ensure that your diet is filled with plenty of low-calorie, micronutrient-dense foods that will help you feel satiated over a longer period of time than the highly-processed, high-sugar/salt alternatives. In order to take advantage of the numerous micronutrient combinations in different fruits and veggies, eat a wide variety of these types of foods, especially dark, leafy greens, colorful veggies, and berries.
- Include grains at every meal.
Including whole grains, especially, will ensure that your diet is packed with more vitamins and nutrients including: protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). Examples of these kinds of foods include whole grain rice, pasta, and even lightly-salted/buttered popcorn.
- Include protein at every meal.
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient of the three main macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats). Include lean (low fat) protein to keep calories from these foods to a minimum. Different foods with higher amounts of protein include: cheeses, meats, poultry, eggs, and seafood. The recommended daily intake for protein is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight (0.36g of protein per pound of body weight).
- Determine your personal daily caloric intake.
Some may want to lose body fat while others may want to gain muscle mass and/or body fat. Your daily caloric intake will be determined by your health and fitness goals. Choosemyplate.gov has a calorie calculator that determines what your daily caloric intake should be to reach your health and fitness goals. For the more athletic-seeking audience, I personally recommend using this calorie calculator that allows you to insert other variables into the equation to reach a more accurate daily caloric intake (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/bwp).
My Plate on a Budget:
Listed below is the ETR My Plate on a Budget pamphlet that features great recommendations on nutritious eating on a budget. If you would like to order a physical copy of this pamphlet, follow this link to the ETR My Plate on a Budget website: https://www.etr.org/store/product/myplate-on-a-budget/