March is National Nutrition Month® and this year’s theme is “Eat Right Bite by Bite,” but if you really want a positive behavior change, add “Sip by Sip.” What you drink can impact your health as much as what you eat. Try these tips to start eating and drinking healthier:
Pay Attention to Portions
Research shows that the portions of some foods, such as bagels, pasta and drinks, have increased significantly over the past 30 years. Did you know that bagels have grown to over twice the size, the average pasta serving has gone from 500 to 1,000 calories and drinks have increased from 6 ½ ounces twenty years ago to over 20 ounces today? Consider using smaller plates to control portions, sharing a meal with a friend and paying attention to portion sizes listed on packaged foods.
Beverages can add up to about 20 percent of our total daily calories and typically add very few vitamins and minerals to our diet.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults choose beverages that are “calorie-free or that contribute beneficial nutrients.” Meet this recommendation by drinking milk with meals and water in-between. A glass of real cow’s milk contains 9 essential nutrients, including 3 that are lacking in American diets–calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Milk’s essential nutrients can be difficult to replace in a healthy diet pattern.
Here is a fun fact: You would need to eat 17 cups of raw kale to get the same amount of calcium as you get in 3 glasses of milk or 6 ½ ounces of sardines to equal the vitamin D in 3 glasses of milk.
Choosing to drink only water and low-fat milk can decrease daily calorie intake, keep you hydrated and provide your body with 9 essential nutrients needed for energy and strength.
Power Up with Protein
The true secret to staying satisfied with smaller portions on your plate is adding protein. Protein takes longer for the body to digest than other foods, keeping you fuller longer.
Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt provide high-quality protein and can be incorporated in meals and snacks throughout the day.
If your goal is to eat more fruits and veggies in 2020, pair them with dairy. Plant-based foods and protein-rich dairy are a superfood power couple.
Try Greek yogurt with granola and fruit for breakfast, a cheese stick with an apple for a snack, or creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup served with a grilled cheese for an easy and delicious lunch or dinner.
For more healthy bites and sips, check out The Dairy Alliance recipes.