Nutrition A Healthy Lifestyle Takes Planning Proper nutrition and adequate hydration are core components to optimal health. Living a fast-paced life can make it a challenge to eat and hydrate well. Knowledge and planning are the key to success in this area of health behavior. Eat the Right Foods Eat most of your food closest to its natural state as possible - fresh fruits and vegetables or fresh frozen fruits and vegetables. Recommended servings per day - five servings such as one small apple; 1/2 banana; one cup of green beans; 1/2 cup of northern beans; and one cup of tomato and cucumber salad. Learn when fruits and vegetables are in season in North Carolina with this Availability Chart. Eat lean sources of protein - examples include fish; chicken with the skin removed; lean cuts of beef with visible fat removed; two to three servings per day (the size of the palm area of your hand or deck of cards, approximately three to four ounces) ; tofu; beans; and nonfat to one percent dairy. Best choice of carbohydrate sources come from whole grain and high fiber foods - fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain cereals and breads. Minimize your intake of processed food items that are made with sugar, salt, processed flour and food additives. Choose monosaturated fat sources (fat sources that stay liquid at room temperature) such as olive oil, canola oil, avocado, nuts, cold water fish like salmon. Avoid saturated fat sources (these fats gel or solidify at room temperature) such as animal fat like chicken skin, beef fat, bacon fat or whole milk products. Avoid trans fats as much as possible as these fat derivatives are used to cut manufacturing costs and extend the shelf life of products. Hydration Our bodies are more than 60% water. Water is a vital life source that keeps our bodies functioning as they should. For optimal health and wellbeing staying hydrated is the key to good health. Some excellent sources for water include: water that is plain, filtered, bottled, mineral or sparkling or cut with some natural fruit juice, decaffeinated tea and fresh fruits and vegetables. Water: how much should you drink? Discusses the health benefits of water, as well as recommendations for the amount of water people, should drink daily. Understanding Food Labels Food Labels 101 - nutrition labels are a wonderful tool to guide consumers as to the nutritional content of the food contained in that package. Provided here is an easy to understand guide to label reading compliments of Penn Medicine Source U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.