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Everything You Eat and Drink Matters

Toni-Ann DiSantis

Everything You Eat and Drink Matters – Focus on Variety, Amount, and Nutrition (via Choosemyplate.gov)


Choose a variety of foods and beverages from each food group to build healthy eating styles. Include choices from all the food groups to meet your calorie and nutrient needs when planning or preparing meals and snacks.



Focus on whole fruits.  Whole fruits include fresh, frozen, dried, and canned options. Choose whole fruits more often than 100% fruit juice. 

Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
Refrigerate cut-up fruit to store for later.
Buy fresh fruits in season when they may be less expensive and at their peak flavor.
Buy fruits that are dried, frozen, and canned (in water or 100% juice) as well as fresh, so that you always have a supply on hand.
Consider convenience when shopping. Try pre-cut packages of fruit (such as melon or pineapple chunks) for a healthy snack in seconds. Choose packaged fruits that do not have added sugars.



Vary your veggies. Vegetables are divided into five subgroups and include dark-green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), starchy vegetables, and other vegetables. Choose vegetables from all subgroups.

Buy fresh vegetables in season . They cost less and are likely to be at their peak flavor.
Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking in the microwave.
Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Pick up pre-washed bags of salad greens and add baby carrots or grape tomatoes for a salad in minutes. Buy packages of veggies such as baby carrots or celery sticks for quick snacks.
Use a microwave to quickly “zap” vegetables. White or sweet potatoes can be baked quickly this way.
Vary your veggie choices to keep meals interesting.
Try crunchy vegetables, raw or lightly steamed.



Make half your grains whole grains. Grains include whole grains and refined, enriched grains. Choose whole grains more often.

To eat more whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product – such as eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice. It’s important to substitute the whole-grain product for the refined one, rather than adding the whole-grain product.
For a change, try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Try brown rice stuffing in baked green peppers or tomatoes and whole-wheat macaroni in macaroni and cheese.
Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soup or stews and bulgur wheat in a casserole or stir-fry.
Create a whole grain pilaf with a mixture of barley, wild rice, brown rice, broth and spices. For a special touch, stir in toasted nuts or chopped dried fruit.
Experiment by substituting whole wheat or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin or other flour-based recipes. They may need a bit more leavening.
Use whole-grain bread or cracker crumbs in meatloaf.
Try rolled oats or a crushed, unsweetened whole grain cereal as breading for baked chicken, fish, veal cutlets, or eggplant parmesan.
Try an unsweetened, whole grain ready-to-eat cereal as croutons in salad or in place of crackers with soup.
Freeze leftover cooked brown rice, bulgur, or barley. Heat and serve it later as a quick side dish.



Vary your protein routine. Protein foods include both animal (seafood, meat, poultry, and eggs) and plant sources (nuts, beans, peas, seeds and soy products). Choose a variety of lean protein foods from both plant and animal sources.

Go lean with protein:

The leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts (eye of round, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.
The leanest pork choices include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham.
Choose lean ground beef. To be considered "lean," the product has to be at least 92% lean/8% fat.
Buy skinless chicken parts, or take off the skin before cooking.
Boneless skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are the leanest poultry choices.
Choose lean turkey, roast beef, ham, or low-fat luncheon meats for sandwiches instead of luncheon/deli meats with more fat, such as regular bologna or salami.



Move to low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. Dairy includes milk, yogurt, cheese, and calcium-fortified soy beverages (soymilk). Choose fat-free (skim) and low fat (1%) dairy foods.

Include milk or calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) as a beverage at meals. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk.
If you usually drink whole milk, switch gradually to fat-free milk, to lower saturated fat and calories. Try reduced fat (2%), then low-fat fruits and yogurt(1%), and finally fat-free (skim).
If you drink cappuccinos or lattes — ask for them with fat-free (skim) milk.
Add fat-free or low-fat milk instead of water to oatmeal and hot cereals.
Use fat-free or low-fat milk when making condensed cream soups (such as cream of tomato).
Have fat-free or low-fat yogurt as a snack.
Make a dip for fruits or vegetables from yogurt.
Make fruit-yogurt smoothies in the blender.
For dessert, make chocolate or butterscotch pudding with fat-free or low-fat milk.
Top cut-up fruit with flavored yogurt for a quick dessert.
Top casseroles, soups, stews, or vegetables with shredded reduced-fat or low-fat cheese.
Top a baked potato with fat-free or low-fat yogurt.



Oils are part of healthy eating styles because they provide nutrients for the body, like fatty acids and vitamin E. They also enhance the flavor of your food. Some oils are eaten as a natural part of the food such as in nuts, olives, avocados, and seafood. Other oils are refined and added to a food during processing or preparation such as soybean, canola, and safflower oils. Choose the right amount of oil to stay within your daily calorie needs.