Tips for Reaching Resolution to “Eat Healthy”

Anne Hytrek, Ankeny Prairie Trail HyVee Dietician

Anne Hytrek, Ankeny Prairie Trail Hy-Vee Dietician

The number one New Year’s resolution made by Americans is “eat healthy.” What does this mean? Studies have shown the vast majority of resolutions are never met because they’re vague, so I asked a registered dietitian to help me develop a plan for success.

“The crucial part of healthy eating is having a balanced diet,” says Anne Hytrek, MSEd, RD, LD, CDE, who works at Ankeny Prairie Trails Hy-Vee and serves on the Iowa Food & Family Project’s Advisory Committee. “One food group doesn’t give all that your body needs for proper brain and muscle function. That’s why it’s so important to eat foods – in proper portion sizes – from all food groups.”

Portion control is another key to healthy eating. Our supersized, fast food society has led to the mind shift that 16 ounces of soda and 1-pound burgers are standard. The truth is that one portion of meat is 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards.

“A ‘petite steak’ is usually 8 ounces and that’s more than twice the recommended serving of meat per meal,” explains Hytrek. “When people replace portions of meat with vegetables as the U.S. dietary guidelines suggest, they’re probably going to need to snack in between meals. Snacks are fine as long as they’re planned to balance your diet.”

While the guidelines encourage Americans to eat more nuts, Hytrek says that literally a handful of nuts constitutes one serving. Also keep in mind that not all nuts have the same caloric content. Almonds, walnuts and pistachios have lower calories than peanuts and pecans. Cashews and Macadamia nuts have the most calories. Be intentional in your meal and snack choices, so that you don’t unintentionally raise your caloric intake.

Another tip for eating healthier in the year ahead is getting the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Try to have at least one different colored vegetable and one different colored fruit at a meal, suggests Hytrek. This is a win-win because your plate will be more visually appealing, and you’re more apt to eat a colorful meal.

Also consider adding fruits and vegetables as “healthy snack options.” Two clementines, or cutie oranges, is one serving. One banana is two servings. You might be able to add two servings of fruit to your diet simply by enjoying a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack, which in turn, will help you stave off hunger until meal time.

This time of year, when we don’t have the gardens and fresh fruits in season, shop the frozen section. Frozen fruits and vegetables actually may have more nutrition than some out-of-season produce. For example, fresh strawberries aren’t in season. The boxes of strawberries in the fresh produce section now don’t contain as much vitamin C as the frozen ones, which were picked while they were ripe and frozen when these fruits were in season. Just be cautious that you’re choosing unsweetened berries or the added sugar will negate the added nutritional benefits.

Speaking of added sugar… don’t fool yourself into thinking that fruit smoothie is a guaranteed healthy choice! Hytrek says it really depends on how the smoothie is made. Some recipes call for Greek yogurt or unsweetened almond milk, which can provide nutritional benefits without all the added sugar. Most smoothies contain real fruit, which contains natural sugars, plus juice and added sugar. If this is the case, a recommended serving size for a fruit smoothie is actually be an 8-ounce cup or smaller!

In addition to smoothies, another food trend is roasted or caramelized vegetables. Today Ann Hytrek is sharing with us a recipe from Hy-Vee.com for a Healthy Caesar Salad. Bake a few kale chips to jazz up your salad and replace the calories from croutons. If you have any leftover kale, add it to a casserole or pasta.

Healthy Caesar Salad

2 bunches kale

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 c. Hy­-Vee Select Extra­ Virgin olive oil

1/4 c. Hy­-Vee lemon juice 3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp reduced ­sodium soy sauce

1 minced anchovy fillet or 1/2 tsp anchovy paste, optional

1/2 tsp Hy­-Vee freshly ground pepper

1/4 tsp Hy-­Vee salt

  1. Strip leaves from the stems (discard stems). Wash and dry the leaves. Tear the leaves into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add Parmesan, oil, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, anchovy (if using), pepper and salt. With clean hands, firmly massage and crush the greens to work in the flavoring. Stop when the volume of greens is reduced by about half. The greens should look a little darker and somewhat shiny.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning with more Parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce and/or pepper, if desired.

Recipe from HyVee.com