EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — March is International Nutrition Month and a good time to start eating a healthier and more-balanced diet.
Damaris Rosado, a physician’s assistant and nutritional outreach fellow with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, said to create the perfectly balanced meal, your plate should be divided into four parts that include fruits, vegetables, grains and protein.
“We need to add variety and not just focus on one thing over another,” advised Rosado, explaining that the American diet often consists of eating the same meals day in and day out.
She suggested more controlled portions are also an important part of a balanced and nutritious meal.
Eating fast food occasionally doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t become a habit, but she suggested substitute it with healthier alternatives.
“You can bake ‘carrot fries,’ they are surprisingly good,” added Rosado.
With many families facing financial hardships, she recognized some cannot afford to always buy fresh food, but she explained that there is a way to make non-perishables more healthy.
When buying canned fruits or veggies, for example, look for low-sodium or no added sugar versions and wash the food out of the can to remove even more of that sodium.
Many families rely on food donations from food banks as well.
Local food rescue organization No Lost Food makes sure no food goes to waste by accepting donations from anyone who has a surplus.
“We try to make it into a nutritional meal for the family we support,” said Preetha Rajkumar, founding president of No Lost Food.
Rajkumar suggested that anyone donating perishable items such as fresh fruits, vegetables or cooked meals should call ahead and schedule a pickup to make sure the food is properly stored, so it doesn’t go to waste.
When it comes to food preparations, Rosado advised to plan your meals and prepare for the week ahead.
“This could be a family activity, to spend more time with your family,” she added.
To find out more about balanced diets, Rosado suggests visiting MyPlate.gov.