Tips for Choosing a Nutrient-Rich Diet

By Sharon Denny, MS, RDN
Salad with Chicken and Other Tips for Choosing a Nutrient-Rich Diet

You should enjoy your diet. In choosing nutrient-rich foods, you'll notice they are familiar, easy to find and represent the five basic food groups. Achieving balance and building a healthier diet can be simple and stress-free.

Selecting nutrient-rich foods and beverages first is a way to make better choices within your daily eating plan. Choose first among the basic food groups:

  • Brightly colored fruits and 100-percent fruit juice
  • Vibrantly colored vegetables including potatoes
  • Whole-grain, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods
  • Low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts

Here are some practical ways for you to add nutrient-rich foods and beverages to your daily diet.

  • Make creamier oatmeal by adding fat-free milk instead of water. Mix in some raisins, dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries too.
  • Make sandwiches on whole-grain bread, such as whole wheat or whole rye. Add slices of avocado, tomato or cucumber to fillings such as lean roast beef, ham, turkey or chicken.
  • Whole-wheat macaroni and cheese is a great way to enjoy a whole-grain food with a serving of dairy.
  • When eating out, look for nutrient-rich choices such as entrée salads with grilled seafood and low-calorie dressing, baked potatoes topped with salsa, grilled vegetables and reduced-fat cheese, and yogurt parfaits made with strawberries and blueberries.
  • Choose nutrient-rich beverages such as low-fat or fat-free plain or flavored milk or 100-percent fruit juice.
  • Top foods with chopped nuts or reduced-fat shredded sharp cheese to get crunch, flavor and nutrients from the first bite.
  • Spend a few minutes to cut and bag vegetables so they are in easy reach for every family member — these include ready-to-eat favorites such as red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes. Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner.
  • Serve meals that pack multiple nutrient-rich foods into one dish, such as hearty, broth-based soups that are full of colorful vegetables, beans and lean meat. Make chili with a dollop of low-fat yogurt. Serve these with whole-grain breads or rolls.
  • For dessert, enjoy a tropical treat by blending mango, plain low-fat milk, ice and a splash of pineapple juice. Stir chocolate syrup into a cup of coffee-flavored yogurt, freeze and enjoy.

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