Eating the Healthy Way
A healthy diet is not something that lasts for three, six or twelve months. It should be a goal to aim for every day of every year. A healthy diet includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of whole grains and nuts and protein from lean meats and the types of fish that contain omega 3 fatty acids.
Fruits and vegetables give you many of the nutrients that you need for optimum health: vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, water, and healthful phytochemicals. Some are sources of vitamin A, while others are rich in vitamin C, folate, or potassium. Almost all fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and none have cholesterol. All of these healthful characteristics may protect you from getting chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. Filling up on fruits and vegetables will help you lose weight as well.
As you explore this site and work on your eating habits, keep these simple rules in mind:
ADEQUATE NUTRIENTS WITHIN CALORIE NEEDS
- Eat a variety of foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups while choosing foods that contain minimal amounts of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
- Adopt a balanced eating pattern, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ChooseMyPlate or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan.
- To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories burned.
- To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small cut backs in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.
- Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.
- To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.
- For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.
- To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.
- To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. Some people may need to consult with a healthcare provider before participating in this level of activity.
- Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.
FOOD GROUPS TO ENCOURAGE
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables while staying within energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables per day are recommended for a standard 2,000-calorie diet, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level.
- Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. In particular, select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green (Spinach, borccoli, etc), orange (squash, carrots, etc), legumes (peas, lentils, etc), starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, etc), and other vegetables) several times a week.
- Consume three or more ounces of whole-grain products per day, with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products. In general, at least half the grains should come from whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat bread, etc).
- Consume three cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products containing calcium (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc).
- Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
- Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
- Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.
- Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains often.
- Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners, such as amounts suggested by the USDA Food Guide and the DASH Eating Plan.
- Reduce the incidence of dental caries by practicing good oral hygiene and consuming sugar- and starch-containing foods and beverages less frequently.
SODIUM AND POTASSIUM
- Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day.
- Choose and prepare foods with little salt. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation—defined as the consumption of up to one six-ounce drink per day for women and up to two six-ounce drinks per day for men.
- Alcoholic beverages should not be consumed by some individuals, including those who cannot restrict their alcohol intake, women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents, individuals taking medications that can interact with alcohol, and those with specific medical conditions.
- Alcoholic beverages should be avoided by individuals engaging in activities that require attention, skill, or coordination, such as driving or operating machinery.
- To avoid microbial foodborne illness:
- Clean hands, food contact surfaces, and fruits and vegetables. Meat and poultry should not be washed or rinsed.
- Separate raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or storing foods.
- Cook foods to a safe temperature to kill microorganisms.
- Chill (refrigerate) perishable food promptly and defrost foods properly.
- Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, unpasteurized juices, and raw sprouts.
- Keep this simple rule about serving sizes and portions in mind: Divide your plate into two sections. The first section - or 1/2 of your plate - should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Divide the second half into three equal sections. Fill two of those sections with your serving of grains and the remaining section with low-fat protein or meat. Learn More>>