VA’s National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention encourages Veterans and their families to jump start the spring season by using the following Eat Wisely tips.

1. Establish regular meal times.  Try not to skip any meals because skipping meals leads to over-eating later in the day or evening.

2. Read food labels when you are purchasing food items.  Pay attention to the portion size, the number of calories in each portion, and the amount of saturated and trans-fat in each portion.

3. Make small substitutions in your diet to cut calories.  For example, drink water or unsweetened iced tea instead of high-calorie drinks.  Choose low-calorie versions of salad dressing, cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise.  Go easy on fried foods –bake, broil, poach, or grill your food instead.

Eat Wisely - VA's MOVE! Program (Chicken)

4. Plan meals and snacks, and make certain to have healthier food choices on hand.  This makes it easier to resist trips to the vending machine and unhealthy, unplanned snacking.

5. Portion your servings to control the amount.  For example, plate your meal in the kitchen using portion control.  Bag snacks, such as potato chips or cookies into single serving sized containers or zip-lock bags. When you have a craving, eat the serving size only.  Remember to pass on seconds.

Eat Wisely - VA's MOVE! Program (Salad)

Here are some videos from VA’s MOVE! Program to help you lose weight.

6. Control calories when dining out.  At fast-food restaurants, “down-size” food and drinks instead of “super-sizing” or better yet, try new restaurants that offer interesting healthier food choices.  You can always check restaurant websites for nutrition information to select the healthiest options.

7. Share an entrée with a friend or family member. Do order a personal salad or side of vegetables.  Ask restaurants to: “Please, “put the sauce on the side” (and try not to use it all), “hold the cheese”, “use low-calorie dressing” and as always, try to avoid fried dishes.

8. Identify your “guilty pleasures” such as ice cream, cake, cookies, or potato chips.  Continue to enjoy them by trying the low-calorie versions or by eating less of the regular versions.

9. Avoid places and situations that trigger eating.  For example, if walking past the bakery causes donut cravings, try changing your route. Replace candy on your desk with fruit and steer-clear of the office candy bowl.  Avoid eating while watching television, reading, working on the computer, or driving. Many people do not recall all they have eaten while doing other things.

Eat Wisely - VA's MOVE! Program (Couple walking)

10. Be ACTIVE!  Try substituting other activities for eating.  For example, take a walk, walk with a friend, or dance to some music. Other activities allow you to avoid extra calories and can be more satisfying than eating.

Eating healthier doesn’t mean changing your entire eating pattern overnight. Small changes, made over time, can add up.  March is National Nutrition Month. VA’s National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention urges everyone to start small – one forkful at a time. ”

Whether you’re planning meals to prepare at home or making selections when dining out, always “Put Your Best Fork Forward” to help find your healthy eating style.

About the author: Lynn Novorska is a MOVE! Dietitian Program Coordinator at the VA National Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention.

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