Summer is winding down and most children will be back in school in less than a week. Several studies have indicated children who eat balanced and healthy lunches and breakfasts are more attentive throughout the day and receive higher grades than those with an unhealthy diet. Nutrition not only plays a huge factor in children’s academic performances, but also in adults’ performance at work as well. 

Making healthy food selections and creating a balanced lifestyle for you and your family is easier than you might think. You can use the following suggestions to help you balance calories, choose unhealthy foods to cutout of your diet and add more nutritious ones to your meals. 

1. Balance Your Calories.

One of the first steps in managing your weight is finding out how many calories you need for a day. To find your calorie level, go to Being physically active can also help you balance calories consumed. 

2. Enjoy Your Food, But Eat Less

As you eat your food, take the time to fully taste and enjoy it. If you eat too fast or eat when your attention is elsewhere, it may lead to over eating and consuming too many calories. Also, pay attention to fullness and hunger cues before, during and after meals. Use these cues to realize when to eat and when you have had enough.

3. Avoid Oversized Portions

Portion out your foods before you eat and also use a smaller sized dish, glass, or bowl. When dining out, choose the lunch or half sized portion, split entrees or take half of your meal home.

4. Eat More Nutritious Foods More Often

Vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and fruits are healthy choices for meal and snack options. These foods also have the nutrients you need for optimal health, such as calcium, fiber, potassium and Vitamin D. 

5. Make At Least Half Your Plate Vegetables & Fruits

Select dark-green, red and orange vegetables, such as tomatoes, spinach and sweet potatoes, along with other vegetables for meal options. Add fruit to meals as a dessert or part of a main dish.

6. Switch To Fat-Free or Low-Fat (1%) Milk

Reduced fat and fat-free milk has the same amount of calcium and other vital nutrients as whole milk, but with fewer calories and less saturated fat.

7. Make Your Grains Whole Grains

Swap white, or refined, grain products for whole grain ones instead. For example, eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread and swap regular pasta for whole grain noodles.

8. Eat Unhealthy Foods Less Frequently

Foods high in sodium, solid fats and added sugars should be eaten sparingly. Some examples are: pizza, chips, ice cream, candies, sweetened drinks, hot dogs, etc. Use these foods as an occasional treat, not everyday food.

9. Compare Sodium in Foods

Look at the Nutritional Facts label when purchasing food to compare the amount of sodium in the items. Select the lower sodium versions of groceries such as soup, frozen meals, and breads. Choose “low” or “reduced sodium” canned goods or those labeled “no salt added”.

10. Drink Water Instead of Sugary Drinks

Reduce calories at least in half by drinking unsweetened beverages, or even healthier, water. Energy drinks and sodas are a major contributor to added calories and sugar in Americans diets.