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What Diet is Best for Me?
Although there is no one diet that is right for everyone, there are Dietary Guidelines for Americans that almost everyone should follow. These guidelines are evidence-based and provide key recommendations for a healthy eating pattern. Healthy eating along with being active can make a difference in health, energy level and the quality of life as we age.
A “Diet” versus “A Healthy Eating Pattern”
Eating right does not need to be complicated nor does it mean you must be on a diet. Having a variety of nutrient rich flavorful foods from all food groups is the best way to eat healthfully. Start with key recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for a healthy eating pattern.
- Eat Vegetables & Fruits- the goal is at least 3 1/2 cups daily. Select fresh, frozen or canned (without added salt or sugar). Think color! Have a variety of colorful vegetables and fresh whole fruit whenever possible.
- Whole Grains - at least 3 servings of whole grains each day. Brown rice, rye bread, steel-cut oats and quinoa are examples. A serving is equal to 1 ounce or 1/2 cup.
- Dairy Products - 3 servings of reduced fat dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D to maintain strong bones. Milk and yogurt are in this group. A serving is 1 cup.
- Protein - choose a variety of protein foods: seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs and legumes. Have fish and legumes more often. Protein maintains muscle and helps to fight infection. Protein needs vary depending on weight. Eat about 6-8 oz. daily.
- Fats/Oils - use unsaturated fats (which are liquid oils) such as olive, avocado instead of solid or saturated fats (palm and coconut oil). Fats are high in calories which can add up quickly! Moderation is key in order to maintain a healthy weight.
A healthy eating pattern limits saturated and trans fats, added sugars and sodium.
Read the nutrition facts label to keep track of your intake.
- Sodium should be less than 1500 mg, and limit sugar no more than 6-9 tsp. daily.
- Avoid trans fats and limit saturated fats to no more than 11-13 grams a day.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, limit to no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 per day for men.
Popular & FAD Diets
Diets range from eliminating carbs and dairy, going gluten or wheat-free, fasting, juicing, detox, raw foods and Paleo. There are so many mixed messages in the media, diet books and diets, what to eat can be confusing! There are no foods or pills that magically burn fat, alter your genetic code or provide the fountain of youth. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some diets may even be harmful.
Unless you have specific dietary needs, it’s best not to eliminate an entire food group. If you have food allergies, intolerances or a specific medical condition, you will need to follow the diet that has been prescribed for you. For a plan tailored to these issues, your physician can refer you to a registered dietitian.
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