It seems like nowadays there are new nutrition claims everywhere you turn! With so much information available at our fingertips it can be exhausting determining what to believe. March is National Nutrition Month making now the time to learn and understand what goes into building a healthy diet. With basic nutrition knowledge, you can begin making optimal choices and become an expert in decoding nutrition myths!

Create a Balanced Plate

You don’t have to cut out an entire food group in order to follow an adequate diet, life is all about balance! An important step towards creating a healthy eating pattern is making sure you have a well-rounded plate. Think about your next meal and ask, “is there a source from each food group?” Let’s take a deeper look at what to aim for:

  1. Make half of your plate fruits and veggies– start with a base of vegetables, fruit, or both to fill up at least half of your dish. By incorporating these foods you will be adding a variety of vitamins, mineral, and fiber into your diet. These foods also help keep you full for longer adding more satisfaction at meal times!
  2. Picking a protein– this is essential! Protein is vital towards help build and repair our tissues, while allowing metabolic reactions to better coordinate bodily functions.  ¼ of your plate should be comprised of a protein source. You can find protein from animal sources such as poultry, beef, fish, eggs, and some dairy but it can also come from plant based sources such as beans, lentils, nuts/seeds, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and whole grains! Adequate protein will keep your body strong and increase fullness to promote less snacking between meals.
  3. Choose a Carbohydrate– Carbohydrates are an important component of a healthy diet. With tons of misinformation about carbs, and it is important to realize carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy! All carbohydrates are not created equal. Aim to make at least half of your grain intake come from whole grains. This includes whole-wheat breads, brown rice, oats, quinoa and so much more! General recommendations suggest females should consume 30-45g of carbs/meal and males 45-60g/meal.
  4. Dairy– while dairy is not required at every meal, it is recommended for adults to consume up to 3 cups/day. Dairy helps provide our bodies with calcium needed for bone health and electrolyte balance. Aiming for low fat or fat free dairy helps avoid excess calorie and saturated fat intake. You can also consume calcium from plant based sources such as calcium-fortified juices, cereals, and breads, soy beans, and dark leafy greens such as kale or collard greens.

While it may seem simple, analyzing your meal and making sure these points have been hit can really go a long way! It assures you are consuming a balanced diet with valuable vitamins and minerals, and keeps your portion sizes adequate. You can check out MyPlate for more ideas on how incorporate all food groups into your diet!

Don’t Skip Meals!

A common misconception is skipping meals will help with weight loss, but research shows that is not the case! Missing a meal can increase hunger levels and the likelihood of overeating at your next meal. Skipping meals is shown to alter our metabolism. Eating infrequently lowers our metabolism causing us to burn less energy throughout the day, and can increase the chance of gaining weight when eating a normal amount of food. Try planning your meals ahead of time or carry healthy snacks such as nuts or fruit to avoid eating gaps!

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is mentioned frequently in health articles, but do you know why it is so important? Adequate hydration plays a key role in maintaining proper brain function and energy levels, and without it can lead to mood changes, fatigue, and memory impairment. Proper fluid consumption can aid in weight loss by increasing our fullness and boosting metabolism. When choosing a hydration source water is the best source and provides the most benefit without adding extra calories or sugar. Not a fan of water? Try adding fruit or vegetables like cucumber to your drink for flavor!


Do you want to learn more about proper nutrition? Visit with a registered dietitian to learn how you can create a healthy and balanced diet that will fit into your lifestyle!