Healthy living includes balancing physical activity and nutrition. The key is to start small and make one change at a time to improve your quality of life. Drastic changes to your daily routine can be difficult to maintain. When making lifestyle changes, think of gradual changes, ones that you can make into lifelong habits.
A balanced diet includes a variety of foods from each of the food groups.
- Grains: try to eat more whole grains than refined grain products. Instead of white rice, choose brown rice. Swap out your white sandwich bread for whole-wheat bread. Try other whole grains, such as oatmeal, faro, millet, and quinoa.
- Fruits & Vegetables: try to eat a variety of colors; deep, rich-colored fruits and vegetables generally contain more vitamins and minerals.
- Protein: choose mostly plant-based proteins, such as nuts, legumes, soy, lentils, and whole-grains. If you eat animal proteins, stick to lean proteins with the skin removed. Limit red meat and processed deli meats.
- Calcium: green leafy vegetables, almonds, soy (tofu), and dairy and fortified/enriched non-dairy milks are all good sources of bone-building calcium.
- Oils: limit your intake of saturated and trans fats (hydrogenated oils, often found in peanut butter and processed foods); good oils to choose are canola and olive oil.
While it is always better to get nutrients from whole foods, if you cannot meet your daily vitamin and mineral needs, it may be necessary to take a supplement.
Keep in mind that you may only be lacking in one or two nutrients and so a multivitamin/mineral may not be necessary. If you are not sure about which supplements to take, do not hesitate to consult a dietitian or your doctor.
When choosing a supplement, make sure read the label and do not exceed the Upper Limit as indicated by the Dietary Reference Intakes.
Also, be aware that supplements are not regulated the same way that food is. Check out the US Food and Drug Administration's Dietary Supplement Alerts and Safety Information.