Grocery Team Member Olivia Johnson, RD
Prepared Foods Team Member Any Oceguera, RD
Variety in the diet is an essential component to good nutrition since eating from the 5 food groups offers different nutrients our bodies need for optimal health. These 5 food groups are fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy. Check out these tips for adding more variety into your lifestyle:
- Include your favorite cultural foods and traditions. Oftentimes, the foods that you grew up eating and feel most comfortable preparing are going to be the most nourishing and reliable options for your diet. A fun exercise is considering your favorite foods from each group and how you can best enjoy them daily. Additionally, there are always small changes you can make to favorite meals to make them more nutritious such as:
- adding fruits and vegetables with different colors
- incorporating both animal and plant based proteins in a dish like eating tacos with ground beef and black beans
- using whole grains in a dish such as substituting white rice for brown rice or quinoa
- Eat foods in various forms including fresh, frozen, and canned. Myth: Only fresh fruits and vegetables are nutritious. Fact: Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at peak ripeness and then preserved to withstand a longer shelf life. The different forms of fruits and vegetables can be used in a variety of ways:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables are great eaten raw, such as in salads or with your favorite Lexi’s Kitchen dip. They are also great roasted such as with this simple, seasonal dish featuring carrots, potatoes, and shallots.
- Canned fruits are excellent for making smoothies, especially if you can find options that are canned in their own fruit juice because you can add both the fruit and the juice into your smoothie! Canned vegetables are perfect for bulking up soups like this Salsalicious Black Bean Soup.
- Frozen fruits and vegetables have many uses! Frozen fruits are great for stirring into a bowl of hot oatmeal, on their own as a sweet snack, or added to baked goods such as this Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Blueberries! Frozen vegetables can help save time when preparing meals and can easily be substituted for fresh, cooked vegetables in most recipes!
- Avoid fad diets that promote unnecessary restrictions. Restrictive diets may provide fast results or make us feel challenged but oftentimes excluding foods from our diet does not result in a sustainable eating pattern. Our bodies need a variety of nourishing foods to fuel us with energy to do everything we desire and feel good doing it! Unless you have been told otherwise by your doctor or another trusted health professional, the best kind of diet is one that allows space for all types of foods.
- Practice gratitude for your body by giving it the fuel it needs. When you are able to, make mealtimes a space for you to connect with your body. Love your body by feeding it with a variety of foods to bring in essential nutrients such as:
- Fiber, vitamins, and minerals from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Proteins to fuel our muscles from animal and/or plant-based sources
- Calcium from dairy products to build strong bones
To learn more about incorporating the 5 food groups into your life and their health benefits, check out some of the amazing resources such as tip sheets and recipes on MyPlate.gov.