The USDA’s most recent dietary guidelines were released last week, and with them came confusion.

We don’t measure our food in milligrams when we cook and restaurants don’t ration portions of salt and sugar. Why should we think about health that way?

This is especially true for teens, so let’s keep it simple. Instead of bringing a scale to your next meal, just keep these 6 pro-tips in mind:

Eat a morning meal

Eating breakfast helps you jump start your metabolism and curb cravings for sweets throughout the day. A morning meal also gives you more energy and can help you focus better in school or at work. Breakfast that boosts your grades? Yes, please.

Avoid skipping meals

It’s not good for your body to go for a long time without nutrition. Plan out your day and throw an apple, banana, granola bar, or some trail mix in your backpack or purse. This can keep your body fueled all day long.

Cut back on sugar sweetened beverages

Most people know that soda is full of sugar — but did you know that drinks like Gatorade and Arizona Tea still have more than a day’s worth of sugar in one serving? Try to cut your number of sugar sweetened beverages in half. If you drink two a day, cut it back to one and have water instead of the second!

Fill in missing food groups

Teens typically eat enough carbs and protein daily, but what are missing are fruits and veggies. It may be hard to get these food groups in at every meal, but get on the right path by trying to get one serving of each every day.

Balance your diet AND satisfy your cravings

Pizza may not be the most nutritious meal, but you don’t have to give it up completely! Try to balance one unhealthy thing you love to eat with a healthy option as well. If you grab a slice of pizza for lunch, eat a banana as well — then you will hit a serving of fruit AND satisfy your heart’s desire.

Get physically active

You gotta sweat! When you break a sweat doing exercises like walking, jogging or dancing — you’re elevating your heart rate. This keeps your body and your mind healthy, and it can help you feel better overall! If you’re interested in working out more, you can ask a doctor or your nutritionist at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center about our Teen Fit program.

Eating healthy is not as complicated as everyone makes it seem. If you can keep these 6 tips in mind when you eat then you’ll be on your way to a happier and healthier 2016!

The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center is located in New York City. It provides comprehensive, confidential, judgment free health care at no charge to over 10,000 young people every year. Elizabeth Tripp, MS, RD, is the Clinical Nutrition Coordinator at the MSAHC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master’s in Science. She believes balance is key to a healthy lifestyle, and is passionate about helping teens and young adults build a better relationship with food. She knows that eating a healthy diet does not mean you need to deprive yourself, and that a balanced nutritional intake can be fun, delicious, and exciting!

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