There is more than one way to eat healthfully and everyone has their own eating style. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. Make healthier choices that reflect your preferences, culture, traditions and budget. Aim for a variety of foods and beverages from each food group and limit saturated fat, sodium and added sugars.
Create an eating style that can improve your health now and in the future by making small changes over time. Think of each change as a “win” as you build positive habits and find solutions that reflect your healthy eating style. Each meal is a building block in your healthy eating style.
Make half your plate veggies and fruits and the other half whole grains and lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans.
Vegetables and fruits are full of nutrients that support good health. Choose fruits that are fresh, dried, frozen or canned in water or 100% juice. Add fresh red, orange and dark green vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli.
Choose protein foods such as lean beef, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, nuts, beans or tofu. Twice a week make seafood the protein on your plate.
Aim to make at least half of your grains whole grains. Look for the words “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutrients than refined grains that are found in white bread, white rice or white pasta.
Don’t forget the dairy. Complete your meal with a cup of fat-free or low-fat milk. You will get the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk but fewer calories. Don’t drink milk? Include low-fat yogurt or cheese in your meal or snack.
Avoid extra fat. Using heavy gravies or sauces will add fat and calories to otherwise healthy choices. Try steamed broccoli with a sprinkling of low-fat parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon instead of butter.
Limit saturated fats (typically solid at room temperatures like butter or the fat inside or around meat) to less than 10% of total calories by replacing them with unsaturated fats (typically comes from plant sources such as olives, nuts, seeds or fish). Limit trans-fat (found in doughnuts, cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers and microwave popcorn) to as low as possible.
Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg daily (for adults and children 14 years and older) by reading labels carefully. Choose “reduced sodium” or “no-added-salt” canned vegetables.
Get creative in the kitchen. Whether you are making a sandwich, a stir-fry or a casserole, find ways to make them healthier. Try using less meat and cheese which can be higher in saturated fat and sodium and adding more veggies that add new flavors and textures to your meals.
Avoid sweetened drinks with sugar or high fructose corn syrup like regular soft drinks, some fruit drinks or some energy drinks. Frosted or pre-sweetened breakfast cereals, candies, sweetened yogurt, cookies, cakes and pies have added sugars. Ice cream and frozen yogurt are usually sugary, although you can find some made with non-caloric sweeteners.
Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way. Indulge in a naturally sweet dessert dish – fruit! Enjoy a fresh fruit salad or a parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top with cinnamon.
Try new foods. Keep it interesting by picking out new foods you’ve never tried before, like mango, lentils, quinoa, kale or sardines. Try fun and tasty recipes with friends or find them online.
Take control of your food. Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help keep portions under control. Eat at home more often so you know exactly what you are eating. If you eat out, choose options that are lower in calories, saturated fat and sodium.
Eating right on a budget: Getting the most nutrition for your food budget starts with a little extra planning before you shop. There are many ways to save money on the foods that you eat. Here are some budget-friendly tips for eating right:
Before you head to the grocery store, plan your meals and snacks for the week. Make a list of what you will need.
Doubling a recipe will save time in the kitchen later on. Extra portions can be used for lunches or meals later in the week or freeze leftovers in individual containers for future use.
Check the local newspaper, online or at the store for sales and coupons.
Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be a lot less expensive. But, quick frozen produce is usually just as nutritious and available all year.
Make the most of your food dollars by finding recipes that use the following ingredients: beans, peas, lentils, sweet or white potatoes, eggs, peanut butter, canned salmon, tuna, crabmeat, grains such as oats, brown rice, barley, quinoa and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.
Make your own snacks by purchasing large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into one-cup containers. For trail mix: combine nuts, dried fruit and whole grain pretzels or cereal; store small portions in airtight containers.
Convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and instant rice or oatmeal will cost you more than if you make them from scratch. Buy a block of cheese and shred yourself instead of packaged shredded cheese.
Most stores offer generic brands for nearly any product – these are often less expensive.
If you have favorite products or staples that you use frequently, stock up on them when they are on sale – but remember to rotate items on your shelves.