Guide to Healthier Eating

Your health is affected by what you eat. A healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and can help you get all the nutrients your body needs. Also, if you get pregnant, eating a healthy diet now can help ensure the health of any future pregnancies. The health of a baby can be affected by the mother’s diet before she becomes pregnant. Here are some tips for healthier eating:    

  • Eat a balanced meal by filling half of your plate with vegetables and fruit, one-quarter with a whole grain, and one-quarter with a lean protein or vegetable protein like beans or lentils. Include a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • Vary your veggies. Eat more dark green veggies, such as broccoli, kale, and spinach; include orange veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash.
  • Focus on fruits. Choose whole fruit instead of juice to get more fiber and less sugar. 
  • Choose calcium-rich foods. Get 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese every day. 
  • Eat whole grains. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta every day.  
  • Go lean with protein and include vegetable proteins. Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake it, broil it, microwave it, or grill it. And vary your protein choices—with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and soy products. More information about fish... 
  • Limit fats and salt. Read the Nutrition Facts label on foods. Choose foods with less than 30 percent of the calories from fat and less than 10 percent of the calories from saturated fats. Eat less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day and choose and prepare foods with little salt. Most salt in the diet is from packaged foods such as found in frozen and canned products.
  • Limit sugars. Drink plenty of water instead of soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, or sport drinks that are high in sugar. Fruit drinks, regular soft drinks, sweets, cookies, cakes, and candies provide empty calories and cause rapid changes to your body’s blood sugar. 
  • Limit fast food. If you do have fast foods sometimes, you can still make healthier choices. Choose foods that are grilled instead of fried. Have a salad, soup, or fruit instead of fries.  
  • Decrease the size of your meals to keep your calories in check. Try a smaller plate.
  • When you want a snack, reach for a vegetable or a fruit. You can also add vegetables to rice, soups, and eggs and add fruits to cereals or yogurt. Try other healthy snacks such as yogurt, string cheese, rice cakes, nuts, or popcorn without butter.
  • Bake, steam, broil, microwave, or grill instead of frying.

Photo credit:  Amanda Mills, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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