As many are embarking on calorie-restricted diets and wearing belly bands to lose weight this new year, others are taking a more simplistic approach: increasing fruits and vegetables and shrinking breads, pastas, goodies and meats.

There’s no reason to cut out any one food or food group and doing so only sets you up for failure and possibly depleting your body of certain nutrients. Rather, filling your body with more fruits and vegetables, which are generally scarce on the plate, is the way to a healthier you.

Shop for fruits and veggies in all forms. Buy fresh, frozen and canned (no added salt for vegetables and packed in 100 percent fruit juice for fruits) so that you will never be without. Precut when you have the time or buy fruits and veggies already sliced so that convenience convinces you to actually eat them.

Rather than shoving them to the back of the fridge, place them toward the front so that they are in view every time you open the door. Sometimes it’s about tricking our mind into doing the healthy thing!

Shrink, don't forgo, the breads, pastas goodies and meats. These are not “bad” foods. We just tend to eat a lot of them. Breads and pastas, particularly whole grains, provide fiber and vital nutrients. However, did you know that a serving size of cooked pasta is half cup? Actually measure that out and you may be surprised to see how the pasta on your plate tends to swell to well more than half cup. Nevertheless, half cup is all you need when you surround your plate with fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy. Look for “thin” lower calorie breads and bagels, and stick with 4 ounces of meat (size of a deck of cards). This News Year, pick the simplistic resolution, not the expensive and super restrictive one.

Melon Berry Banana Fruit Salad

½ cantaloupe, cut into cubes or balls

1 banana, sliced

1 cup strawberries, sliced

1 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced

¼ cup low-calorie poppy seed dressing

2 tablespoons fruit juice, such as orange juice

¾ teaspoon fresh chopped mint (optional)

Combine all fruits in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk salad dressing with fruit juice and mint (optional). Pour dressing over fruit and gently stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition facts (per serving): 120 calories, 6 grams fat, 160 milligrams sodium, 17 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 1 gram protein

Smith, a registered dietitian, is a nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306.

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