5 Tips For a More Balanced Diet
Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD
In a perfect world, we would follow the suggested dietary guidelines every day, get enough physical activity and make sure each night is filled with the proper amount of restful sleep. However, our busy schedules can make it difficult to get what is needed for a healthy lifestyle, including the vitamins and minerals that support your health. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that many adults don’t get enough of six essential nutrients – vitamins A, C, D, and E, and the minerals calcium and magnesium. A more balanced eating plan, paired with a complete multivitamin, is a great strategy for increasing your intake of a variety of these vitamins and minerals. Here are some ways to help achieve a better balanced diet that can fit into your daily routines.
Include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily
When life gets busy and you’re on the run, it’s not always easy to consume the five servings of fruits and vegetables most adults need every day. Eating produce goes a long way to satisfying the suggested intakes for several vitamin and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and E. The great news is that some of your favorite fruits and vegetables may be more nutritious than you think. For example, mushrooms are the only item in the produce aisle with vitamin D, and mushrooms that have been exposed to UVB rays (the same rays that come from sunshine) have even more of this vital nutrient. Some produce, including dark green leafy vegetables, provide magnesium and calcium. Have a serving of fruits or vegetables (or both!) at every meal, and consider them for snacks, too. Fruit smoothies made with calcium filled milk or Greek yogurt are a delicious and nutritious alternative to high calorie desserts and snacks.
Eat at least two seafood meals a week
And you thought seafood was just for heart health! Seafood is a source of vitamin D, calcium (if you eat the bones of small fish, like sardines), and vitamin A – three of the six essential nutrients people often don’t get enough of from food alone. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least two meals containing fish weekly not only for the heart-healthy fat that fish provides, but for several other nutrients, including the vitamins and minerals that support overall health. Meals with fish don’t need to be elaborate or fussy to be beneficial. You can reap the benefits from a tuna salad sandwich made with reduced-fat mayonnaise. Top a hearty green salad with cooked canned salmon, too.
If you have fish or seafood allergies, you can get vitamin D from fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and yogurt - foods that also contain calcium. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark green leafy vegetables supply vitamin A.
Don’t shy away from certain fatty foods
Unfortunately, cutting back on food often means eating less of an array of foods that contain important vitamins and minerals. Eliminating entire food groups, such as grains or dairy, in the name of weight control, or for any other reason, makes inadequate vitamin and mineral intake even more likely. Instead of drastic reductions, choose a reasonable calorie level and a balanced diet for gradual weight loss.
If you’re trying to quit, keep it up! Cigarette smoking depletes the levels of vitamin C in your bloodstream. According to the Institute of Medicine, smokers have a higher daily requirement for vitamin C. When you quit, your sense of smell and taste improves. Food will start to taste better, and chances are your diet will improve, helping you to meet your vitamin and mineral needs. Include a glass of orange juice, oranges, kiwi, or strawberries to meet your daily vitamin C needs, whether you’re a smoker or not. Surprisingly, red and green bell pepper also provide vitamin C, and are delicious raw on salads or cooked in a stir-fry.
Day to day, it may be difficult to satisfy your entire daily vitamin and mineral needs from food alone. The good news is that even when your diet comes up short, you can fill the gaps with a complete multivitamin that supplies an array of nutrients and helps support your overall health.
Find out which Centrum multivitamin is right for you by using our Find Your Centrum tool.