Meghan Tiernan (MS, RD, LDN) is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle. She strives to help others learn the most nutritious way to eat, in order to achieve good health. Meghan enjoys cooking and running and believes that with just some basic knowledge, you can gain the confidence in yourself to know that you can eat well.

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Dietitian Consult

by Meghan Tiernan, MS, RD, LDN

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Protein is an important part of any well balanced, healthy diet. There’s a big push towards alternating protein choices by including more seafood and vegetable-based proteins to your diet. The new My Plate guidelines encourage everyone to choose seafood twice a week and also increase their intake of foods like beans, legumes, hummus, soy products (such as edamame and tofu), and nuts and seeds.

Sources of Protein

Regardless of your preference, you just want to make sure that your choices are mostly lean. When eating meat, choose cuts that are generally leaner. For example, choose boneless chicken without skin or choose the highest percent lean ground beef (93 or 95%), or switch to ground chicken or turkey. Choose lean red meat cuts such as top round and sirloin and choose lunch meats that are naturally lower in fat like turkey, ham and roast beef. When cooking meats, choose cooking methods like baking, broiling or sautéing, drain off additional fat after cooking and use minimal oils/butters when flavoring or cooking meats.

Increasing seafood intake is a new recommendation. It’s recommended most people consume 8 ounces of seafood each week from different sources. Some good options include salmon, trout, tuna and cod. By increasing seafood intake, you will get more Omega-3’s in your diet which has been associated with lowering the risk of heart disease. Not a fan of seafood? No worries, you can consider taking an omega-3 supplement, or you can choose vegetable based sources such as canola or olive oil, flax seeds (ground) or flax oil, and soybeans.

If you’re used to eating a mostly carnivorous diet, try starting slowly to vary your protein choices. Choose one day a week to have a non-meat protein for your dinner and then try to aim for a whole day. A few things you could try: Swap out that piece of chicken for ¼ cup of sliced nuts and beans in a salad, try a veggie burger, make a veggie soup loaded with beans and different vegetables or try lentils in your stir-fry. For sandwiches, try a veggie and hummus pita or a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. Experimenting with different alternatives is a fun way to keep lunch and dinner ideas fresh and new!


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