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Turnip the Beet! Nutrition and Wellness

Timely news, information, and innovative ideas to promote health and influence change.

Healthy Shifts for a Healthy You

Happy National Nutrition Month®! This is a great time of year to reevaluate your eating pattern to determine if it's working for you. Are you getting the healthful foods you need to live your best life?

An eating pattern represents all of the food and drink choices you make from day to day over the course of your lifetime. It's more important to focus on healthy shifts you can make to your eating pattern than on individual foods. Be careful of fad diets that eliminate entire food groups (more to come on this on future posts!).

How are we, as Americans, doing?

  • About three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils.
  • But we're exceeding the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

Small shifts in food choices—over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal—can make a big difference down the road. Start small with one or two shifts than gradually add more.

Small shifts are much more manageable and more sustainable than the latest fad diet. You don't have to be perfect all the time but don't let immediate gratification trump the feeling that healthy habits create. Shift your daily habits for optimum control of your eating pattern.

Here are several small shifts you can try today! What other shifts can you make in your eating pattern?

Instead of…

Try this!


All-purpose flour

Substitute up to ½ of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Example: 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour in a recipe calling for 2 cups all-purpose flour.

Increased fiber/vitamins/minerals

White bread

100% whole wheat or 100% white whole wheat

Increased fiber/vitamins/minerals

White rice

Long-grain brown rice, quinoa or bulgur wheat

Increased fiber/vitamins/minerals

Oil or butter in baking

Substitute part of the fat with applesauce, prune puree, mashed banana, shredded zucchini, canned pumpkin, or pureed beans. Note that liquids may need to be adjusted and there may be some taste differences.

Less fat and more fiber/vitamins/minerals

Full fat sour cream or mayonnaise

Low-fat versions, plain low-fat/non-fat yogurt, buttermilk, or blended cottage cheese

Reduced fat and increased protein if using Greek yogurt over regular

Meat for all your protein

Plant-based protein sources: beans, lentils, hummus

Less saturated fat and more fiber/vitamins/minerals

High-fat meats

Lean cuts with visible fat trimmed and skin removed

Less saturated fat

Parmesan cheese as a topping

Nutritional Yeast

Increased B-12 and less saturated fat and sodium

Solid fat (butter, lard, etc.)

Liquid oil– try olive, avocado, sunflower or peanut oils.

Less saturated fat and more polyunsaturated fat

Thickening sauces and gravies with butter

Mix cornstarch with a small amount of cold water, then stir slowly into hot liquid and bring to a boil

Less saturated fat

Serving soups, gravies, and stews immediately

Chill first and skim off hardened fat, then reheat and serve

Less saturated fat

Regular canned vegetables

Use reduced-sodium or no-salt-added versions; if not available, rinse under running water

Less sodium

Fruits canned in heavy syrup

Fruits canned in 100% juice or water

Less added sugar

Sugar-sweetened beverages

Infused water, 100% fruit juice or unsweetened teas

Less added sugar and more phytonutrients

Want more?!
Get Back into the Swing of Spring- 5 healthy living strategies for the transition into spring.
Check out the DASH Eating Pattern to see if it's right for you.

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