The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines encourages people to "balance calories." What does this mean?
According to the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion - USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines Communications Message Calendar, "Calorie balance refers to the relationship between calories consumed from foods and beverages and calories expended in normal body function and through physical activity"
Why should we try to balance our calories? Balancing our calories can help us achieve and sustain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight improves the quality of our lives. It is easier to play with our children and grandchildren or just enjoy life in general because it is easier to move. A healthy weight puts less stress on our joints and reduces our risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and/or diabetes.
How can you begin to balance your calories? First, ask your physician to help you determine a healthy weight and the types of exercise that you could safely engage in. She may want to refer you to a registered dietitian. A dietitian can recommend the number of calories you need and help you set up an eating plan.
Next, start working on changing your eating habits and lifestyle. Set your goals and get support from friends or family members. MyPlate is a helpful guide to develop healthy eating habits.
Notice that MyPlate recommends making half of your plate fruit and vegetables, a quarter of the plate whole grains, and a quarter lean proteins. Including more fruits and vegetables should help keep your calories in check.
Limit your intake of processed foods. Usually these products are high in sodium, saturated and trans fats. Read labels to make the most healthful selections. When dining out, choose lower calories and smaller portions.
Balancing you calories is a key to a healthy lifestyle. Good health is one gift we can give to ourselves!