How to eat a balanced diet and limit calories at the same time.


Fruit is a luscious way to satisfy a craving for sweetness and pleasure, without adding a lot of calories. Get in the habit of eating at least 2 pieces of fresh fruit daily; a small piece (say, a small apple) or 1⁄2 cup chopped fruit constitutes one serving. Like vegetables, fruits are great sources of vitamins (especially vitamin C), minerals and phytonutrients, such as the antioxidants lycopene (in reddish pigments in watermelon) and beta carotene (in yellow-orange fruits like mango and peaches). And, when you eat them whole rather than drinking their juice, you have the heart-healthy, satiety-enhancing effects of their fiber too. You can enjoy dried fruit, too, but it packs significantly more calories, so stick with a 1⁄4-cup serving.

Try not to drink your fruits too often—their calories will go down with you hardly noticing. Enjoy the whole fruit instead—it’s more satisfying.

Milk and Other Calcium-Rich Foods

No matter how many calories you’re budgeting, you’ll want to include calcium-rich foods like low-fat or fat-free milk, cottage cheese or yogurt each day, to help keep your bones strong. Soy-based versions of these are fine, too, as long as they’re fortified with vitamin D and calcium—two bone-building nutrients milk supplies abundantly. Dairy foods are also decent sources of protein, which helps add staying power to meals. Just be sure to choose low-fat or fat-free versions, or the calories quickly add up. Likewise, use full-fat cheese sparingly; it’s high in calories and saturated fat. Choose one with strong flavor so a little goes a long way.

If you don’t eat or can’t tolerate dairy foods or fortified soymilk products, you can get your calcium from nondairy sources like dark green leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified products like orange juice and cereals—but they lack the protein benefits of milk and may not contain vitamin D, so you’ll need to get those nutrients elsewhere.

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