Minnesota Dept. Of Health - Nutrition Tips

Simple Nutrition

Put your good food where your mouth is.

There are a lot of temptations out there: fast food, sugary beverages, and junk food in front of the TV, to name a few. However, it doesn’t have to be hard to eat well. Sometimes a lot of little steps can add up to big changes, both on the scale and at the doctor’s office.

Inside this booklet are ten simple little tips that are easy to remember and easy to follow. Don’t do them all at once. Pick one or two the first week and put them into action. Next week, pick two more. Now repeat!

And consider them family activities. Parents need to lead the way and be good role models. If you’re eating healthier, it’s a lot easier to get your kids to eat healthier, too.

Go ahead! Give them a try!

Sugar Sweetened Beverages

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Slow the flow

Drink less pop and other sugary drinks. It only takes 3,500 extra calories to gain a pound of weight. There are about 250 calories in a 20 ounce bottle of regular pop. Drinking one bottle a day could equal as much as 26 pounds of extra weight in one year.

Tip: Mix half 100% fruit juice with half unsweetened carbonated water to cut your intake of pop in half.

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Re-think your drink

Read the label to know what you are about to drink. Companies will make the serving size small to make the drink/food appear healthier than it is. Most soft drinks have the same amount of sugar in one can as a six inch Snickers candy bar. Drinking pop is like drinking candy.

Tip: Choose beverages where the words “sugar” or “high fructose corn syrup” are not listed as the first or second ingredients on the label.
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Form a water habit

Did you know that the more you practice drinking water, the easier it gets to finish a glass? It usually takes repeating a behavior for 18 days to create a habit.

Tip: Drink 3 glasses of plain water before you allow yourself to have a sweetened beverage.
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Fruits & Vegetables

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Sky’s the limit

Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want. Fruits and vegetables contain powerful nutrients that can keep you healthy so eat as many different kinds as you can. Most fruits and vegetables are low in salt and fat and all are cholesterol free. It doesn’t matter if they are canned (low-salt or rinse before eating), fresh, plain frozen, or dried.  

Tip: Store fresh fruits and vegetables so they are ready-to-eat in see through containers and place on the front top shelf of the refrigerator. This makes them convenient to grab as a snack or use while preparing meals.
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Every helping helps

Add fruits and vegetables into foods you already like. Every step toward eating more fruits and vegetables counts towards keeping you healthy. The process of learning to like a new fruit or vegetable can take up to 18 tries. In the meantime, try adding them to foods you really enjoy.

Tip: Mash a little cooked cauliflower into mashed potatoes, add a small amount of sweet potato or pumpkin to macaroni and cheese, cook a cup of finely minced carrots with a spaghetti sauce, or introduce a sprinkling of a minced green vegetable to pizza.
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Mix it up

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is important. Learn to like new fruits and vegetables. Variety is the best way to get the highest level of all the super nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.

Tip: Plan for “Two Bite Tuesdays” where the whole family decides on and prepares a different fruit or vegetable. Everyone eats at least two bites while they talk about ways to prepare it even tastier next time.
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Junk Food

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One fist limit

Some foods are so low in nutrients that you should limit the portion size. A good rule of thumb is to limit less healthy foods to one portion no bigger than the size of your fist. Pay attention to how much you are eating. Grazing or unconscious eating is a common reason people overeat.

Tip: Measure fist-size portions of less healthy foods on a plate before you eat it and put the rest away. Never snack directly from a large package.
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Good stuff first

Try to fill up on foods that are healthy for the mind and body before reaching for the junk food. You will eat what’s available in the house so only buy the healthier snacks.
Tip: Eat at least 3 servings of fruits or vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned, or dried) before you allow yourself to eat any junk food.
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Watch what you’re watching

One way to curb the junk food habit is to be aware of food marketing ads. Teach your child to tell the difference between a commercial that is advertising a healthy snack or a less healthy snack.

Tip: Praise your child for recognizing a junk food ad and ask them what a healthier choice might be.
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Screen-free eating

People who eat in front of a screen tend to pay less attention to what they are eating, which often leads to overeating.

Tip: Turn off the TV and other electronics during family meals, and don’t allow snacking while watching TV or use the computer or game consoles.
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Updated Wednesday, October 08, 2014 at 11:37AM