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How to Eat a Healthy Diet

Registered dieticians hear it all the time, “I think I know what to eat, but I don’t know how to make it happen.” 

It can be difficult to change eating behaviors. This article will share tried and true techniques for establishing positive eating habits in your life.  

Know when to buy organic

When you're buying produce, keep in mind The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

According to the Environmental Working Group, eating certain types of organic produce can reduce the amount of toxins you consume. 

The group created two lists, “The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen,” to let consumers know when they should buy organic foods.

For produce on the following “dirty” list, you should go organic to avoid your intake of pesticides:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Hot Peppers 

The produce on the following “clean” list show little to no traces of pesticides, and are safe to consume in non-organic form.

  • Sweet Corn
  • Avocados 
  • Pineapples 
  • Cabbage 
  • Onions
  • Sweet peas (frozen) 
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus 
  • Mangos 
  • Eggplant 
  • Honeydew Melon 
  • Kiwi 
  • Cantaloupe 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Grapefruit

The power of a grocery list 

Shopping with a grocery list keeps you focused in the supermarket and less likely to purchase unnecessary items on impulse. Write down your most commonly purchased items, and when you run out of a food in the pantry or refrigerator, put it on the list. 

As you’re considering how much fresh produce to buy, keep in mind the eating habits of the people in your household and for how many days or meals you are shopping.   

Worry less with a weekly meal plan

Have you ever bought everything on your shopping list and still not known what to cook for dinner? Planning a weekly menu will help guard against the angst that often comes up when thinking about what to cook at the end of the day.  

Make a list of 10-15 meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner that you and the family enjoy on a regular basis. Below are some meal examples:

Breakfast

  • Apples and nut butter
  • Egg and sautéed veggies
  • Smoked salmon and tomato
  • Cereal with fruit
  • Almond butter and honey on toast

Lunch

  • Sandwich or rollup
  • Cheese and salad
  • Hummus and veggies
  • Nut butter and jam on toast
  • Deli meat and cheese
  • Canned white tuna or salmon salad
  • Quesadillas (with cheese and bean, chicken) 

Dinner

  • Chicken: Stir fry, parmesan, chicken noodle soup, cacciatore
  • Legumes: Black bean soup, nachos with bean topping, tacos, lentils and rice
  • Fish: Broiled, baked, fish tacos, stew with tomato and olives

Try entering these meals into a shared family calendar (paper or electronic). This way, everyone will know what’s for dinner that night. Plan for leftovers and perhaps a night of eating out.

Consider organizing meals around a protein, or a cuisine. Think of other broad categories that give you the security of a weekly guideline as well as the opportunity to experiment and try new recipes.

Here are some examples:

  • Monday: Chicken/Asian night – chicken stir fry with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and snow peas, brown rice, and salad.
  • Tuesday: Legume/Mexican night – tacos with black or kidney beans topped with lettuce, tomato, guacamole and shredded cheese, and garlic greens. 
  • Wednesday: Fish/Mediterranean night – broiled fish, green beans with lemon and olive oil, roasted new red potatoes, and a Greek salad.

These are just a few tips to help get you organized and eating healthy!