This Flow is brought to you courtesy of Dr. Janet Peterson, DrPH, FACSM. Dr. Peterson made a huge impact on Heather’s own diet and life philosophy and in turn, was the seed for what is now Local Flow. We are excited to feature Dr. Peterson periodically on The Flow!

The key to a healthy food intake is to find balance while consuming foods in moderation (i.e. portion sizes) and making sure you are getting adequate intake of all nutrients. Essential nutrients for a healthy you include water (Step 1 to a healthier 2017: Drink Water) vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and yes, carbohydrates. The easiest way to achieve a healthy balance is to eat a variety of foods every day.

There is so much hype about carbohydrates. Only eat a small amount or avoid them all together. Which is tantamount to saying avoid water or vitamins and minerals all together. Carbohydrates are one of three essential (necessary for health) macronutrients. The other two, just as controversial, are fats and protein. But we’ll save those for another blog post.

Carbohydrates come from plant based foods, including sugars. Carbohydrates do not have to be the enemy – how can they be when most of the fruits and vegetables are in fact carbohydrate based. Sugar is a carbohydrate. Sugar occurs naturally in many foods such as fruits and vegetables. It is easy to overconsume sugar when you are eating added sugars. Added sugars are just that, added to make something sweeter. You know, the sugar added to your coffee in the morning or added to your favorite peanut butter (check the label). It is easy to over consume sugars when eating foods with a ton of added sugar. A little added sugar is okay (moderation). The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommends Americans limit added sugars to no more than 10 percent of their daily intake. That’s 180 kcals (45 grams) or 11 teaspoons of added sugar per day for someone consuming 1800 kcals in a day.

Fruits and vegetables are yummy, nutrient dense, low energy (low calorie) foods packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, and, yes, they are mostly classified as carbohydrates. So does that make them bad for us?

For step #2 for a healthier you up your intake of fruits and vegetables. Choose fruits and vegetables as healthy snacks. Pile your plate high with a colorful array of fruits and vegetables. Or grab a smoothie loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables. Your health with thank you.