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Food for thought: Eat more fruits and vegetables

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March was National Nutrition Month and a reminder to eat a little healthier. Part of being healthy is getting to and staying at a healthy weight. We want to encourage individuals to get to a weight that reduces your risk for diseases, like diabetes.

You’ll also find that being at a healthy weight gives you more energy, improves your mood and helps you tackle those day-to-day challenges. We all love a refreshing drink with a meal but they have a lot of calories and no nutrients so next time you are thirsty, rethink your drink. Many of us say we don’t have time for exercise but we have time to watch our favorite T.V. shows. And we all understand that larger portions equal extra calories which adds on the pounds.

Many people don’t believe that they can make the switch to a healthier way of life, especially when it comes to eating better. Well, I want to debunk some of the myths. You will not have to give up all of your favorite foods, but instead focus on eating smaller amounts and try healthier ways to prepare some of your favorite meals. You do not have to sacrifice taste.

The extension office in both Person and Granville Counties has a lot of wonderful resources and recipes available for individuals who are interested in eating tasty and healthy meals. And it does not have to cost you more money to eat healthy. You can eat canned and frozen fruits and vegetables to get the same nutrients as fresh foods. Also, it depends on whether or not the foods you are buying are in season during that time of year. Despite all of those cooking shows on T.V., you do not have to be a fancy cook in order to prepare low-fat, delicious meals. The main thing you need to remember is that you do not have to make big changes all at the same time. Take it one day at a time and try to focus on small, manageable changes because those will add up in the long run.

Whether you’re starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast or fueling before a workout, the foods you choose can make a real difference. Planning meals and snacks in advance will add nutrients, save you money and help reduce food waste. Create a meal prep plan that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods. Buy only the amount of food that your family can eat or freeze within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week. Be mindful of portion sizes – just eat and drink the amount that’s right for you. To find a personalized plan that works best for you and your family, consult a registered dietitian. Learn how to go further with food by visiting eatright.org.

This column as provided by Jennifer Grable, family and consumer sciences extension agent for Person and Granville counties. For more information on things to keep your family healthy and safe, along with updates on programs, activities and recipes, go online to http://facebook.com/personcountyfcs or email jennifer_grable@ncsu.edu.

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