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Healthy Eating Tips

Whether you are looking for ways to eat healthier or following your health care professional’s advice for special dietary needs, these healthy eating tips can help guide you in the right direction.

Making healthier choices

Certain foods can make a healthy difference because, even in small amounts, they provide a good range of nutrients. Consider adding:

Beans. Whether you simmer garbanzos in a soup, dip into black bean salsa, or enjoy some baked beans on the side at your next barbecue, try to eat 3 cups of beans each week. Beans are rich in fiber, protein, calcium, iron, and other nutrients that help the body stay healthy.Fish. Albacore tuna, salmon, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Research suggests these may help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least 2 servings of fish a week.Fruit. You can eat a couple of cups a day with breakfast, as a quick snack, or for a healthy dessert. Choosing fruit, whether it's fresh, canned, dried, or frozen, means giving your body a boost of essential nutrients.Nuts. Walnuts. Almonds. Pecans. Peanuts. Even just a handful is packed with nutrients such as protein, folic acid, niacin, magnesium, and zinc. Nuts also are a great source of unsaturated fat. Just keep an eye on serving sizes—fat and calories can add up quickly.Vegetables in all colors. Think red (tomatoes), orange (carrots), green (spinach), white (onions), and purple (eggplant). A variety of vegetables can give you a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, too.Whole grains. Choosing whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas can help you add fiber and flavor to your diet.Yogurt. An excellent source of calcium and protein.

Making healthy eating a habit

Maintaining good nutrition is not just about what you eat, it's also about how you eat. To help you stay on track:

Eat a healthy breakfast to get your day started. Try whole-grain cereal with milk, yogurt with fruit and berries, or a tortilla with peanut butter and sliced banana.Snack wisely to get more from what you eat, boost your energy between meals, and get important vitamins and minerals. Single-serve yogurt cups or vegetables with cream cheese are 2 nutritious options.

When eating out, try to:

Take along healthy portable foods for eating on the go. Some examples are peanut butter and crackers, granola bars, fresh fruit, and trail mix.Take time to look over menus to find healthier selections.If you can, avoid menu items that are batter-fried, pan-fried, buttered, creamed, crispy, or breaded. They can have added fat and calories.Take half to help control portions. Split large sandwiches and restaurant meals with a friend, or save the other half for another meal at home.Take more dark leafy greens, carrots, peppers, and other fresh vegetables at the salad bar instead of the mayonnaise-based salads and high-fat toppings.

When you're food shopping, try to:

Check the Nutrition Facts label. Making it a habit to read before you buy can help you check packaged foods for what’s good (fiber, calcium, iron, and vitamin C) and what's not so good (too much sodium or fat).Check the claims on the package. Low calorie means less than 40 calories per serving. Low cholesterol means less than 20 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving. Fat free or sugar free means less than ½ gram of fat or sugar per serving.Check the ingredients list. Usually, the largest amounts, by weight, are listed first. So if sugar or salt is listed at the top, chances are it makes up a large part of the total. You also can find out if ingredients include foods with proteins that may trigger allergies—such as milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy. Additional information may be available by contacting the manufacturer.

It's all about healthy eating

Making healthy food choices and following healthy habits can help you start—and stay—on the path to good nutrition. Start by making just 1 or 2 simple changes, such as adding a little more fruit daily or reading Nutrition Facts labels when you shop. Remember, every little bit counts. And every little bit brings you that much closer to living a healthier lifestyle.

Further Resources

About.com

Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

The Cleveland Clinic health information

eMedicineHealth.com

KidsHealth.org

Mayo Clinic

Pollen.com

WebMD


Further Resources

Allergy and Asthma Network - Mothers of Asthmatics, Inc.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

American Lung Association

CDC: asthma's impact on children and adolescents

CDC: how to quit

EPA: asthma and indoor environments

NIH: asthma and physical activity in the school

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Further Resources

American Diabetes Association

Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation

Diabetic Exercise and Sports Association

International Diabetes Federation

NIH: NIDDK diabetes health information

NIH: NIDDK nutrition information

NIH: National Diabetes Education Program

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation


Further Resources

American Council for Headache Education

American Headache Society

National Headache Foundation

New England Center for Headache


Further Resources

American Dietetic Association

Dietary guidelines for americans

Food and nutrition information center

NIH: nutrition information

NIH: weight loss and control

NIH: weight control


Always check with the health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing activity. It's also important to ask him or her about target heart rate to help determine appropriate exercise intensity.

Always check with your health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity. It's also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

Always be sure to check with your health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity.

It always helps to ask:

  • What activities are right for me?
  • How much should I do each day?
  • How many days a week?

It's also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

Before making decisions about which policies, if any, to purchase, be sure to:

Thoroughly research policies Review the coverage Compare policy options

Download complete insurance quick reference [PDF 6 pages, 183k] including the health insurance options information on this page.

Before making Medicare choices, always:

Thoroughly review coverage Compare options Call Medicare at 800-633-4227 if you have any questions

Download complete insurance quick reference [PDF, 3 pages, 160k], including Medicare and Medicaid information on this page.

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Health Coach Call

Listen to an example of what a call might sound like.

PlayNutrition call (7:16)
PlayActivity call (7:22)

Here are some important things to know about your Health Coach Call:

Our Coaches are employed by a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., a pharmaceutical company. The information provided is based on generally available nutrition and physical activity guidelines and information applicable to most people. Health Coaches are not licensed dietitians or health and fitness professionals, and they are not in a position to assess your individual nutrition or activity needs. This information is not appropriate if you are pregnant, and it may not be appropriate if you have specialized dietary needs or limitations on the level of activity or exercise you can safely undertake due to your medical conditions. Consult your health care professional regarding your specific needs, limitations, and health conditions. Health Coaches can educate and coach you on nutritional and physical activity recommendations for the typical person. Health Coaches are not health care professionals and cannot offer medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your health care professional because he or she knows you best. If you have a chronic health condition, check with your health care professional to find out if physical activity is safe before you start. If during your call you have concerns about any condition, special dietary needs, limitations on the level of activity or exercise, any treatments, side effects, or adverse experiences, your Health Coach will refer you to your health care professional.

Activity Points Explained

This Planner uses Activity Points as a way to help you stay motivated and focused on your activity goals. Points are assigned to each activity in the Planner. You'll earn more points when you increase the duration of the activity.

For example, when you bicycle for 15 minutes at a moderate pace (12 to 14 mph), you earn 120 Activity Points. To earn the same number of Activity Points while cycling at a very easy pace (less than 10 mph), you would need to bike for 30 minutes.

If you are currently inactive or get very little activity during the week, a good goal to work toward is 500 Activity Points each week. This is equal to 30 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic exercise on 5 days a week.

If you are moderately or highly active (more than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week), you may want to aim for up to 1,000 Activity Points each week. This is equivalent to 1 hour of activity on 5 days a week.

What you'll gain

At 500 Activity Points per week: Once you consistently reach this level (ie, 150 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic activity per week), you may gain substantial health benefits. These benefits include lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

At 1,000 Activity Points per week: When you consistently reach this level (ie, 300 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic activity per week), you may gain even more health benefits. These benefits include a decreased risk of colon and breast cancer and an even lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.