Energize Yourself and Your Family (cont.)

Save Time and Money When You Cook

You do not have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen or a lot of money to eat well.

  • Buy foods that are easy to prepare, like pasta and tomato sauce, rice and beans, or canned tuna packed in water.
  • Plan ahead and cook enough food to have leftovers. Casseroles, meat loaf, and whole cooked chicken can feed your family for several days. (Be sure to freeze or refrigerate leftovers right away to keep them safe to eat.)
  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. Buy only as much as you will use, so they will not go bad.
  • Buy frozen or canned vegetables (no salt added) and canned fruit packed in juice. They are just as good for you as fresh produce, and will not go bad.
  • Try canned beans like kidney, butter, pinto, or black beans. They are loaded with protein, cost less than meat, and make quick and easy additions to your meals.
  • If your local store does not have the foods you want or their prices are too high, go to another store or your local farmers' market. Share a ride or the cost of a taxi with friends.

Reading Food Labels

Food labels may help you make healthy food choices.*

But they can be confusing. Here are some quick tips for reading food labels:

Check serving and calories. All the information on a food label is based on the serving size. Be careful-one serving may be much smaller than you think. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients, including the percent Daily Values (DVs).

Percent DV: This tells you whether a food is high or low in nutrients. Foods that have more than 20-percent DV of a nutrient are high. Foods that have 5-percent DV or less are low.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat is not healthy for your heart. Compare labels on similar foods and try to choose foods that have a 5-percent DV or less for saturated fat. Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Keep total fat intake between 20 percent to 35 percent of calories.

Trans Fat: Trans fat is not healthy for your heart. When reading food labels, add together the grams of trans fat and saturated fat, and choose foods with the lowest combined amount.

Cholesterol: Too much cholesterol is not healthy for your heart. Keep your intake of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol as low as possible.

Sodium (Salt): Salt contains sodium. Research shows that eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about 1 teaspoon of salt) per day may reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

    TIP: Many food labels say "low-fat," "reduced fat," or "light." That does not always mean the food is low in calories. Remember, fat-free does not mean calorie-free, and calories do count!

Fiber: Choose foods that are rich in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Sugar: Try to choose foods with little or no added sugar (like low-sugar cereals).

Calcium: Choose foods that are high in calcium. Foods that are high in calcium have at least 20-percent DV.

* For more information on nutrition labels, read Cracking the Code: Deciphering Food Labels.

For more information, read the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Eating on the Go

In real life, you cannot always cook your meals or eat at the dinner table. Here are some ways to make healthy choices when you are on the go:

  • Choose a salad or a grilled chicken sandwich (not fried) instead of a burger at fast-food restaurants.
  • If you really want a burger, make it a small one without sauce, and skip the fries-or share them with a friend.
  • Take healthy snacks with you to work. Try graham crackers, pretzels, baby carrots, or a small amount of raisins or nuts (but remember that nuts and raisins are high in calories).
  • Balance your meals throughout the day. If you have a high-fat or high-calorie breakfast or lunch, make sure you eat a low-fat dinner. If you know you will be having a higher fat dinner, make lower fat choices earlier in the day.

      TIP: Fried foods, high-fat foods, and take-out foods can be part of a balanced eating plan-as long as you do not eat them every day and only eat small amounts.

Keeping Track of Serving Sizes

Many people think that bigger is better. We are so used to value-sized portions in restaurants that it is easy to eat more than our bodies need. Eating smaller portions will help you cut down on calories and fat (and might save you money, too). Here is a 1,600-calorie per day sample menu with sensible servings:*

Breakfast
1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
1 English muffin with 1 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese
1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup orange juice

Lunch

2 ounces baked chicken without skin (a little smaller than a deck of cards)
Lettuce, tomato, and cucumber salad with 2 teaspoons oil and vinegar dressing
1/2 cup white rice seasoned with 1/2 tablespoon tub or liquid margarine
1 small whole-wheat roll with 1 tablespoon margarine

    TIP: Use margarine instead of butter. Choose a soft margarine that has no more than 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and that lists "liquid vegetable oil" as the first ingredient on the ingredient list. (American Heart Association)


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