Nutrition Basics

Dining Services encourages you to take your nutrition into your own hands. We’ve compiled a list of resources to get you started.

Nutrition is simple, enjoyable and the way to fuel your body. Nutrition is also grounded in evidence-based science. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide recommendations for a healthful diet and reflect the importance of:

  • a diet pattern high in vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, low or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes and nuts
  • a focus on increasing consumption of plant foods and decreasing consumption of red and processed meats
  • a “culture of health” in which individuals, organizations, private businesses, and communities feel empowered to make healthy choices

Food is composed of three macronutrients that provide our bodies calories, or energy: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. A healthful diet pattern includes all of these macronutrients. Here are some guidelines to help you choose more healthful sources of these nutrients:

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel.

  • Choose fiber-rich carbohydrates such as whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
  • Make half of your grains whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and whole wheat bread.
  • Limit added sugars like table sugar, honey, soft drinks, candy and sweets.

For more information visit:  www.choosemyplate.gov/grains

Protein

Proteins are responsible for key body functions and provide the structural unit for muscle mass.

  • Increase consumption of protein from plant sources such as soy, beans, lentils, and nuts.
  • Choose lean or low-fat protein such as lean poultry, meat or fish, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and eggs.
  • Avoid breading, frying, or adding gravies to poultry, fish or meat.

To learn more visit: www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods

Fat

Fat provides energy for basic body functions.

  • Choose mostly plant sources such as nuts, plant oils, and avocados.
  • Limit oils that are solid at room temperature including palm and coconut oil.
  • Limit animal sources of fat such as red meat, poultry, whole milk and butter.

To learn more visit: www.choosemyplate.gov/oils

How to read a food label

Now that you are familiar with what encompasses a balanced diet, knowing how to identify carbohydrates, proteins and fats on a Nutrition Facts label is the next step. Learn more about the key components you should look for when inspecting a food label.