Dietary Balance and Moderation: As Essential as Your Little Black Dress
January 22, 2015
by Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, Senior Vice President of Nutrition and Food Safety at the International Food Information Council
Remember the fashion rules your mother used to tell you? “Don’t wear white after labor day.” “Don’t mix black and navy.” So many of these outdated rules focus on what not to do. The same goes for nutrition. Diets that focus on restraint, elimination, or demonization of a single food are bound to become outdated, but balance and moderation are nutrition rules that never go out of style. Think of balance and moderation (BAM) as the nutrition equivalent of the “little black dress” (the LBD). It’s a closet staple, no matter the year.
Going into 2015, we have a chance to start fresh and set resolutions for a new year. This year, let’s talk about what to eat, rather than what not to eat, and choose a fad-proof diet focused on balance and moderation. Insights from the International Food Information Council Foundation 2013 Food and Health Survey confirm that Americans are tired of hearing about what not to eat. In fact, 78% of Americans agree that they would rather hear positive messages about what they should eat than negative messages about foods to avoid. These responses are more proof that it’s time to ditch the diet fads and focus on an eating plan that will never go out of style. Here are three basic tips to add more variety and flavor to your eating style, striking the right balance and building your diet around timeless classics:
Make fruits and vegetables your go-to for daily meals.
- Buy fruits that are canned in water or 100% juice, dried, and frozen, as well as fresh, so that you can always have fruit on hand and avoid waste.
- Add glam to your routine foods. Try chopped apples in your oatmeal, oranges in mixed green salads, dried apricots as a snack, or fruit sauces on your entrees. These sneaky integrations are a great way to add extra vitamins, minerals, fiber, and taste to your meals.
- Brighten up your plate, just like your wardrobe! Mix in a variety of red, orange, or dark green vegetables. Each color of vegetable provides a different set of vitamins and minerals. Try acorn squash, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, or kale.
- Be ready for a short-notice meal. Microwaveable bags of plain frozen veggies are great to keep on hand for quick, healthful meals.
Dress up your diet with lean protein and whole grains.
- Dig into a new grain. For instance, couscous, bulgur, or quinoa can make a quick side dish or foundation for a stir-fry.
- Bring a healthful option home. For an easy meal, stop at the supermarket for a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. Add a microwaved-baked potato and a salad made with bagged lettuce.
- Get creative with seafood. Think beyond the fish fillet; try salmon patties, a shrimp stir-fry, or grilled fish tacos. Add variety by trying a new fish such as grilled Atlantic or Pacific mackerel, oven-baked Pollock, or any white fish.
- Build your meal differently. Remember, meals can be built around veggies, whole grains, and vegetarian protein sources as well. Try veggie pizza with low-fat cheese, whole wheat pasta, tacos, chili, or stuffed peppers.
Balance your eating with your physical activity.
- Think moderation. Eat smaller portions and take more steps during the day, rather than eliminating one food from your diet.
- Slip in activity. Look for ways to add physical activity in your normal daily routine, rather than trying to add exercise time to a full schedule.
- Balance it out. You be in control by balancing the calories you eat and drink with the calories you burn through physical activity. There are numerous apps and devices that are available to help keep you in style and in step. SuperTracker.usda.gov is only a click away!
You may be wondering how your favorite high-calorie treats fit into a healthful diet based on balance and moderation. Think about it this way: you always add a little sparkle to your favorite fashion staples to make your style complete. When your diet is based on the concepts of balance and moderation, you can make room to sprinkle in a few of your favorite higher-calorie items while still maintaining an overall healthful diet.
In 2015, make a resolution to choose balance and moderation over fad diets. With some BAM in your nutrition wardrobe, you will always be in style, savoring the taste and variety of a balanced diet, along with health benefits!