March is National Nutrition Month. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing helpful eating and physical activity habits. This March, we are focusing on how all foods can fit into a healthy diet.
Healthy eating is important at every age. You should eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy or fortified soy alternatives. Nutrients provided by the five food groups can differ, which is why it is important to eat some foods daily from each category.
Serving sizes and portion sizes for healthy eating as you age
You can use serving sizes on containers or packages to help guide you to eat the appropriate amounts of foods. A “serving size” is the standard amount of food, like a cup or an ounce, that can help you when choosing foods and reading nutrition labels. The term “portion size” means how much of a food you are served or how much you eat. For example, the serving size for pancakes might be ¼ cup of batter. However, the portion size you give yourself at home may be two small pancakes, but at a restaurant you may get a stack of four pancakes as one portion.
A good example of how to use portion sizes to manage your health conditions would be with carbohydrates for people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, your doctor may have asked you to watch your carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are still a very important food category for diabetics because they are the top source of energy for our brain.
For people with diabetes, it is still important for you to eat carbohydrate foods, especially if you are on insulin or other medications. Carbohydrates like pasta and rice are still great choices for diabetics. Eating the correct serving size for these foods (1/2 cup) will help to prevent large spikes in blood sugar.
You can also consume whole grain carbohydrates that contain fiber to help slow the spike in blood sugar. Adding protein and healthy fats to meals with carbohydrates can also be helpful in managing your blood sugar.
NUTRITION EDUCATION & PROGRAMS