(Family Features) - Looking to eat right but not sure where to start? Many people make far-reaching commitments to healthful eating but lose steam over time. With summer around the corner, spring is a great time to learn the basics for making informed food choices and committing to a healthy lifestyle.
Adopt a big-picture approach to healthful eating by making positive, sustainable long-term changes, says registered dietitian and nutrition author Barbara Dixon. "The good news is that making even small dietary changes, such as drinking more water and adding additional vegetables to sandwiches can make a big difference," she says.
Recent studies have found that Americans only eat one serving of whole grains a day even though the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends adults consume three servings a day. Whole grains contain an array of nutrients not found in fruits and vegetables, as well as B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber. According to the Whole Grains Council, whole grains are a great source of minerals and vitamins that may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Few foods can offer such diverse benefits.
"Increasing whole grains in your diet is easy, especially if you think beyond the breakfast table," Dixon says. "Brown rice is a great whole grain product with dozens of versatile applications for lunch and dinner meals."
Consider Dixon's easy tips for incorporating whole grains into daily meals:
Look at Labels - Watch food labels for the "Whole Grain Stamp," which identifies products with a half serving or more of whole grains.
Soup-Up Lunch or Dinner - To take whole grains beyond breakfast, add a half cup of cooked wheat or rye berries, wild rice, brown rice, sorghum or barley to canned or homemade soup for a heartier lunch or dinner.
Make Smart Substitutions - When baking, substitute half the white flour with whole wheat flour in recipes for cookies, muffins, quick breads and pancakes.
Switch Out the Sides - When preparing side dishes, swap out the less healthy side dishes such as mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese for a convenient, flavorful whole grain product with more nutritional punch, like Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Brown Rice. Ready Whole Grain Medleys can be prepared in just 90 seconds and are perfect for a weekday meal with the family. For special meals, Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice - now with whole grain goodness - dresses up your plate and helps make dinner more inspiring.
For more healthful eating tips and delicious meal ideas, visit www.unclebens.com.