March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Are you a busy teen with no time for diets or complicated eating plans? Not a problem. All it takes are some simple and smart eating choices to make a big difference in how you feel, both physically and mentally. Here are four tasty ways to get the nutrients you crave and have a healthy weight at the same time:
Be Realistic: Make Small Changes over Time
- Feeling bad that your body doesn't look like the models in the magazines? Dump unrealistic, unhealthy body images. Focus on being the best you can be with smart food choices from MyPlate.
- Change what you drink and get a health kick. Switch from soft drinks to beverages with real power. Ditch the empty-calorie drinks and give your body the nutrients it needs. Drink fat-free or low-fat milk with all your meals. For zero calories and pure refreshment, you can't do better than ice-cold water.
Be Adventurous: Expand Your Tastes
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally delicious, nutrient-rich fruit. Slice a banana into your morning cereal, munch a bunch of grapes at lunch or have frozen yogurt topped with berries.
- Lean beef is perfect for eating on the run. Enjoy a power lunch with ZIP (zinc, iron and protein) by rolling a slice of roast beef and cheese into a tortilla wrap. Grab a soft taco with beef, beans, cheese and salsa for spicy nutrition-to-go.
- Going out? Order a different item at your usual stop or visit a totally new place. Chains often feature new items, like fruit and yogurts parfaits, and many fast food places now have healthier options on the menu.
Be Sensible: Enjoy All Foods, Just Don't Overdo
- Breakfast is a meal that can help you make the grade at school and sports. It can also improve your attitude, rev up your metabolism and kick your day into high gear. Start the day right with cereal and fruit, a yogurt smoothie or your favorite sandwich.
- Indulge your body's need for nutrients with power snacks that really count. Feed your next snack attack with half a sandwich. Try peanut butter and banana or turkey and cheese on whole-wheat bread.
- Skip super-size fast-food options. A double cheeseburger, extra-large fries and super-size drink can total 1,800 calories and more than 80 grams of fat. That's nearly as much as most people need to eat in an entire day. On the other hand, a regular burger, fries and 16-ounce soft totals about 600 calories and 19 grams of fat.
Be Flexible: Balance Your Daily Choices
- Planning a pizza party with friends? Enjoy every slice and then eat little lighter, lower-fat options tomorrow. While you're at it, experiment with nontraditional pizza toppings like taco meat, grilled vegetables or pineapple.
- Small changes can make a big difference in calories and fat in the long run. When you are eating out, pay attention to the little things. Order items without gooey sauces, then add fat-free condiments like ketchup, mustard and salsa. Order dressing on the side and dip a forkful of salad into it, instead of pouring it on; you'll use less.