Basics of Healthy Eating
Guidelines for implementation of healthy eating. For weight loss tips, see Dieters.
What makes a diet "healthy"?
Healthy eating means you get the nutrients and energy you need to maintain a healthy weight. By selecting a healthful balance of foods, you avoid hunger and prevent overeating. Calories are the energy that you get from the foods you eat.The food choices you make prevent chronic weight gain
Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer, but your diet should be healthy in many aspects beyond weight maintenance. To prevent cardiovascular disease regardless of your weight, consume foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables are good for prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic health conditions. Calcium is important for healthy and strong bones.
The food choices you make assist in preventing diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis
The food choices you make are enjoyable and sustainable
Make it Sustainable
Establish regular eating times
Include lean sources of protein at every meal
Full fat meats and milk products contain significant amounts of saturated fat, which can increase your risk for heart disease. Low fat milk products, beans and peas are excellent sources of lean protein. Lean meats have less visible fat in and around the meat. The visible fat and/or skin should be removed before or after cooking.
A little goes a long way—protein is also found in grains and vegetables so it doesn’t take a lot more to meet your needs. Add a glass of milk or a couple slices of turkey to balance a snack. A small piece of chicken breast (3 oz, the size of a single deck of cards) is plenty of protein for a meal, especially when it’s balanced with pasta, green beans, and a dinner roll.
Add fruits and vegetables to meals every day
Keep fresh, canned, and frozen fruits and vegetables on-hand. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables in season for the best flavor. Learn how to prepare fruits and vegetables before you buy them so fresh produce doesn’t spoil before you’ve used it. Split larger packages with a friend—share a bag of fresh apples, split a head of romaine lettuce or divide a package of carrots.
Some vegetables are more energy-dense than others. Potatoes and corn are technically vegetables, but they are often grouped with the breads, grains, and cereals group because of their high carbohydrate content (see their placement on the Food Selection Chart below).
If you choose to eat refined grains like white rice, white bread, and regular pasta, you will need to eat more fruits and vegetables to get enough fiber.
Canned fruits have more sugar and less fiber than fresh fruits eaten with the skin on. Fruit juices are practically fiber-free. For these reasons, we recommend that fresh or frozen fruits be eaten more often than canned fruits and 100% fruit juices.
Change takes time
After following these weight maintenance techniques and advice, you will find that your meals will take the shape of this Food Selection Chart. The chart is to act as your guide to selecting a diet that is nutritious and well balanced. As you can see, the chart recommends choosing foods closer to the bottom of the pyramid while limiting foods from the top of the pyramid to 25% or less of your total calories. By doing this, you can occasionally indulge in your favorite treat or snack while limiting the added fat and calories, allowing you to receive all of the vital nutrients needed for a healthy, wholesome diet. For more information, see the Nutrition 101 section.