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This article is from UI Extension Family Life intern Emily Baine.

Given the choice between a cheeseburger and a salad, I would choose the cheeseburger. There is nothing wrong with that, but finding a healthy balance is what is key in trying to live a healthier lifestyle.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture gives us 10 tips to making better food choices:

Find out what you need

Get personalized nutritional information based on your height, weight, gender, etc. at SuperTracker.usda.gov).

Enjoy your foods but eat less

Use a smaller plate at meal times to control your food intake. Enjoy what you're eating as well.

Strengthen your bones

Choose foods and drinks that are filled with calcium and vitamin D, like fat-free and low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt or fortified soymilk.

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

Use these as your main or side dish. Choose brightly colored foods.

Drink water

This is so important! Make sure you always have a bottle of water with you and drink from it throughout the day. I personally keep a reusable water bottle with me at all times and make a conscious effort to drink from it.

Eat whole grains more often

Brown rice and whole-grain pasta and bread are a healthier choice that can easily be made. These foods with higher fiber can help you feel fuller longer while providing key nutrients.

Learn what is in foods

Read the nutrition-facts label on the foods you are eating to see exactly what is in them.

Cut back on some foods

Limit the number of foods that are high in solid fats and added sugars, such as ribs or bacon. It is okay to indulge in the occasional sweet treat, but try not to do it very often.

Be a better cook

I will be the first to admit, I am a terrible cook. But with a little effort, we can try to make healthier recipes. Eating at home can enable you to be in more control of what you are consuming. For example, don't make fried chicken; instead, try baked chicken. If you find yourself eating out, go online and check the nutrition facts on the restaurant's website.

Be active whenever you can

Make a conscious effort to get more physical activity into your daily schedule. Include friends and family to make it more fun!

I am human too; I struggle with all of these. Daily struggles get to us, and we just don't have time or don't want to do it. Let's try to make a more conscious effort to improve our eating habits, and this will improve our overall well-being!

To read the full article, visit choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-make-better-food-choices.

UI Extension is currently developing a texting program that will send health and wellness tips to your fingertips. To get the weekly messages, sign up for "Extending Wellness" at https://go.illinois.edu/wellnesstips. Once the program goes live, Extension will email you more information.

For more information on family-life-related topics and programs, visit the UI Extension website at web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv or contact Chelsey Byers Gerstenecker at 217-333-7672 or clbyers@illinois.edu.