Build Better Meals

Food is fuel. Choosing foods that will get you started – and keep you going – can nourish your body and mind, help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent illness.

Food is fuel. Choosing foods that will get you started – and keep you going – can nourish your body and mind, help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent illness.

Turn Your Pantry Staples into Healthy and Budget-Friendly Meals…

…and check out our featured healthy living recipe: Berry & Chia Overnight Oats Cooking Demo

A Message from Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN

Fruits and veggies are full of nutrients, nutrients that help our bodies run. They have everything from antioxidants to vitamins and minerals and fiber. When I’m thinking about what’s really healthy for my body, fruits and vegetables are my go-to.

A Message from Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN

Food scoring systems imply ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. This, in turn, may increase guilt or shame around eating and disordered eating behaviors, or misinformation around foods that are healthy instead of nutrition education. It’s much easier to understand a plate (MyPlate) that is half non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter lean protein and one-quarter starch. This is not foolproof, but it’s a better place to start when trying to think about what a healthy diet and healthy meal may look like.

Opt for a heavily plant-based diet rich in complex carbohydrates like those found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, brown rice and whole grains, which will keep you satisfied, doesn’t spike blood sugar and supports GI health. The goal here is to make half of all grains whole grains, so some refined carbohydrates are fine. If possible, pair these refined carbs with foods high in fiber. For example, white rice paired with vegetables or sugar in oatmeal.

Unsaturated heart-healthy fats may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by improving related risk factors such as total and LDL blood cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation. Also, omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease and other issues such as cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Know Your Caloric Numbers

Check this USDA chart for an estimate of what your body needs to function efficiently, but for a more accurate measure, try the calorie calculator at Calculator.net.

Age
Sedentary Moderately Active Active
21–25 2,000 2,200 2,400
26–30 1,800 2,000 2,400
31–50 1,800 2,000 2,200
51–55 1,600 1,800 2,200
56–60 1,600 1,800 2,200
61–75 1,600 1,800 2,000
76 and up 1,600 1,800 2,000
Age
Sedentary Moderately Active Active
21–25 2,400 2,800 3,000
26–35 2,400 2,600 3,000
36–40 2,400 2,600 2,800
41–45 2,200 2,600 2,800
46–55 2,200 2,400 2,800
56–60 2,200 2,400 2,600
61-65 2,000 2,400 2,600
66-75 2,200 2,200 2,600
76 and up 2,000 2,200 2,400

What Is Healthy Eating?

Nutritional guidelines vary based on age, sex, height, weight, activity levels and specific health conditions, so talk with your doctor, nutritionist or dietician about your own health needs before starting a new eating plan.

Where Our Fuel Comes From

45% to 65%: Carbohydrates
10% to 35%: Protein
20% to 35%: Fats

Take the MyPlate Quiz

The Best Fuel for Your Body’s Engine

We know fruits and veggies are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, but making sure we eat enough of them every day can be a challenge. SBH Health System’s Dietitian Abbie Gellman offers simple tips on working more fruits and vegetables into your day.

Turn Your Pantry Staples into Healthy and Budget-friendly Meals

In this webinar, health educators explain how to turn your cupboard items into tasty and nutritious meals.

How Do You Get Your Required Daily Vitamins and Minerals?

Learn why you need certain vitamins and minerals and the foods you can eat to get the recommended daily amount.

Good-for-You Foods Made Easy

Follow this simple recipe from SBH Health System’s Teaching Kitchen.

Alimentos que le hacen bien, fáciles de hacer

Siga esta simple receta del equipo de cocina de SBH Health System.

Make every bite count:
Eat nutrient-dense foods instead of less-filling fast and processed foods

Choose a variety of options from each food group

Pay attention to portion sizes.

How much you eat is as important as what you eat in order to maintain a healthy weight. But what’s the difference between a “portion” and a “serving”? A portion is how much food you choose to eat at one time, while a serving is a standard measure of food listed on a product’s Nutrition Facts label – so your portion size may not match the serving size. The serving size on a label is not a recommendation of how much you should eat or drink. That’s because the number of calories you need each day depends on your age, sex, height, weight and physical activity level. Use the chart above to find out how many calories you should take in each day.

Managing portion control is harder when eating out, so check the menu for calorie information; consider sharing a meal or taking half home; order one or two healthy appetizers instead of a whole meal; keep an eye on beverages – these calories can add up quickly; and stop eating and drinking when you feel full.

Watch for added sugars or artificial sweeteners in desserts, sodas and juices.

Build healthy eating habits and stay within calorie needs by choosing foods and beverages with little to no added sugars. Added sugars are sugars and syrups used in foods during preparation, processing or at the table. A product’s Nutrition Facts label can tell you exactly how much sugar is in each serving. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 50 grams a day, aiming for 100 calories or less for women and 150 calories or less for men.

Meal prep on the weekends.

Maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging with a busy schedule. Meal preparation—batch-cooking, chopping veggies, pre-assembling meals – allows you to eat well-balanced meals, with controlled portions. It also helps you choose healthy ingredients and avoid making unnecessary food purchases – saving you money and reducing food waste.

Keep in mind:

  • You can prep meals as many as five days in advance. Freeze any that you won’t eat within five days.
  • Prep each meal in its entirety or prep separate ingredients (for example, cut vegetables and cook meats) to speed up the cooking process later.
  • Cook grains in large batches, as they take a long time.
  • Have plenty of single-meal-sized containers for storage on hand.
Learn how much you need from each food group with a personalized MyPlate Plan.

Visit MyPlate.gov to see your food group targets – fruits, veggies, grains, proteins and dairy – and learn what and how much to eat within your calorie allowance. Your food plan is personalized, based on your age, sex, height, weight and physical activity level.

Get your fill.

Drinking enough water throughout the day is vital for optimal health. While everyone knows it’s important to stay hydrated, getting enough water each day can be a challenge. Truth is, many of us don’t drink the recommended amount.

Go green with green markets.

GrowNYC‘s year-round green markets provide New Yorkers with fresh fruits and vegetables every day. You can also find local products at food access sites throughout the city. Visit grownyc.org to find individual market web pages. Many markets offer free recipes and cooking demonstrations!

Statistics

More than 5,900 schools offered salad bars to more than 3 million children and school staff between 2012 and 2019.

Source: CDC

Eating healthy, moving more and quitting tobacco can prevent
80% of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes and
40% of cancers.

Source: WHO

Boost Your Longevity with Healthy Habits and Foods Workshop

  • Retirees: Cooking for Your Health

    Thursday, September 29 at 11:00 am

    Let’s get cooking! We’re excited to get in the kitchen to show you how to prepare healthy meals and share tips for better eating. Each class will last one hour at the Zoom links listed below and will include a cooking demonstration with chef Teresa. Take a look at the tasty offerings you’ll cook up this month!

  • Retirees: Cooking for Your Health en Español NEW

    Friday, October 7 at 12:00 pm

    We’re excited to offer the Cooking for Your Health class in Spanish! Join chefs Natalia and Jose for a cooking demonstration of quick, healthy recipes that are sure to become favorites. Each class will last one hour at the Zoom links listed below. Take a look at the dishes you’ll be cooking this month!

  • Retirees: Cooking for Your Health

    Thursday, October 13 at 11:00 am

    Let’s get cooking! We’re excited to get in the kitchen to show you how to prepare healthy meals and share tips for better eating. Each class will last one hour at the Zoom links listed below and will include a cooking demonstration with chef Natalia. Take a look at the tasty offerings you’ll cook up this month!

Resources

Access free or reduced-cost community services and programs close to where you live or work with findhelp.org. Search for support in your community, including housing assistance, emotional well-being resources, child care, legal help and more.

Visit findhelp.1199SEIUBenefits.org to get started.

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The information contained in this site is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives. See terms of use.