Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and your food choices each day affect your health. By taking steps to eat healthy, you’ll be on your way to getting the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, active, and strong. Making small changes in your daily nutrition habits can go a long way, and it’s easier than you think!
To get started, you can do the following:
- Focus on making healthy food and beverage choices from all five food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy to get the nutrients you need.
- Eat the right amount of calories for you based on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level.
- Building a healthier eating style can help you avoid overweight and obesity and reduce your risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Use the Healthy Eating Plate as a guide for creating healthy way to eat and to help you make the small changes you need to eat more balanced meals: (Insert Healthy Eating Plate image)
- Make most of your meal vegetables and fruits – ½ of your plate:
Aim for color and variety, and remember that potatoes don’t count as vegetables on the Healthy Eating Plate because of their negative impact on blood sugar.
- Go for whole grains – ¼ of your plate:
Whole and intact grains—whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta—have a milder effect on blood sugar and insulin than white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.
- Protein power – ¼ of your plate:
Fish, chicken, beans, and nuts are all healthy, versatile protein sources—they can be mixed into salads, and pair well with vegetables on a plate. Limit red meat, and avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage.
- Healthy plant oils – in moderation:
Choose healthy vegetable oils like olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, and others, and avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which contain unhealthy trans fats. Remember that low-fat does not mean “healthy.”
- Drink water, coffee, or tea:
Skip sugary drinks, limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day, and limit juice to a small glass per day.
- Stay active:
The red figure running across the Healthy Eating Plate’s placemat is a reminder that staying active is also important in weight control.
Combined with physical activity, your nutrition can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and type 2 diabetes), and improve your overall health.
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