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:

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.

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