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:    

  • Vary your veggies. Fill half of your plate with vegetables. Eat more dark green veggies, such as broccoli, kale, and spinach; orange veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash; and beans and peas, such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, split peas, and lentils.
  • Focus on fruits. Choose whole fruit instead of juice to get more fiber and less sugar. Aim for at least 2 cups a day. What counts as 1 cup of fruit: 1 small apple, 1 large banana, about 30 grapes, 1 medium grapefruit, 1 large orange, 1 large peach, 1 medium pear, 2 large plums, 8 large strawberries, 1 cup canned fruit, ½ cup dried fruit. 
  • 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. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta. Make sure that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are referred to as "whole" or “whole grain” at the beginning of the ingredients list. 
  • Go lean with protein. 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
  • Limit sugars. Drink plenty of water instead of sweetened drinks. 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.  Use mustard or ketchup instead of mayonnaise. Order smaller entrée portions. For example, instead of a large sub, try a small sub with a side salad or fruit. 

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

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