Healthy eating can go hand-in-hand with favorite foods

Combining a diet rich in nutritional value with exercise may be the simplest step to living a longer, healthier life. However, this has been one of the most difficult secrets to unlock for millions of people in America, who instead often fall victim to low physical activity and eating habits filled with cultural and ethnic comfort foods.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is now encouraging us to “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” – a pathway to achieving healthy nutrition goals without forsaking many of the foods we enjoy most.

“You don’t always have to change everything you eat; the trick is to find good things in what you eat every day,” said Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “It’s also important to be mindful of portion sizes as well as how your food is prepared.”

Proteins should be regarded as a side item, while vegetables should make up the largest portion of meals. She suggests adding bursts of color as a tool to make sure meals contain a healthy balance of vegetables, grains, and proteins.  “The more colorful veggies on your plate, the better off you are,” Ms. Sandon says.

Here are few of Ms. Sandon’s nutrition tips tailored to cuisines from around the world:

  • Chinese – Incorporate plenty of broccoli, kale, carrots, and water chestnuts into stir-fry dishes. Opt for long-grain or brown rice instead of white rice.
  • African-American – Make healthy vegetables like collard and mustard greens, sweet potatoes, and corn the largest portion of your meal. Also, a 2-inch square of cornbread is a great grain addition.
  • Italian – Strive to add artichokes, beans, spinach, bell peppers, and zucchini to your favorite dishes. Instead of pasta, try using quinoa with a dash of olive oil as your main grain.
  • Mexican – Color your dishes with plenty of jalapeno and bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and avocado. Corn tortillas contain fewer calories and less lard, making them a better choice than flour tortillas.

Visit at UTSW Medicine to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

March is National Nutrition Month.

Media Contact: Remekca Owens