1. Where is my vegetable? And can you increase the veggie portion you usually eat by 50 percent? An easy rule to live by: If any portion of food on your plate exceeds your portion of vegetable, you’re not eating enough vegetables, or you’re eating too much of everything else.
2. Where is my fruit? Try a fruit-based dessert instead of ice cream or cookies.
3. Where is my fiber-rich starch? Are your grains too processed? Replace white rice (refined and processed) with brown rice or a potato (not processed) or other starchy vegetable, such as corn, peas, sweet potato, or beets—or try a new whole grain, such as quinoa. Choose whole-wheat couscous over white couscous. Substitute half or all of your white pasta with whole-wheat pasta.
4. Where is my protein? Limit your portion of animal protein to the size of your palm (same thickness). Try a vegetarian protein, such as beans, tofu, tempeh, or seitan. Choose all-natural beef, poultry, and dairy instead of those injected with antibiotics and growth hormones. And include fish a couple of times per week.
5. Where is my fat? What source is it coming from? Plant fats are healthier than animal fats (the omega-3 fats in fish are an exception), so choose olive oil in place of butter, guacamole instead of sour cream, nuts and seeds in place of bacon bits, olives instead of cheese. Aim for one to three servings of omega-3-rich fats daily (these include fatty fish, ground flaxseeds or flax oil, canola oil, edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, omega-3 egg yolks, dark leafy greens, and wheat germ).
6. Where is my variety? Is this the third or fourth time you’ve served this meal (or this food item) this week? If so, you need more variety. Keep fast, easy meal ideas and recipes within reach, and keep a shopping list to ensure all ingredients are on hand and to save time in the grocery store. Accumulate a nice stack of healthy recipes that you can rotate so you won’t hear the kids complain, “Aw, not chicken again!”