Healthy Living

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Eating well is the foundation of good health!

Paying attention to what, when, how often, and how much you eat can be the first step to helping you eat better.

What kinds of foods should I eat?

Every 5 years the Government releases dietary guidelines that recommend what kinds of food to eat and to limit so you can have a healthy eating plan.

Eat more of these nutrient-rich foods

Nutrients—like vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber—nourish our bodies by giving them what they need to be healthy. The guidelines advise adults to eat the following foods because they are rich in nutrients:

  • fruits and vegetables

  • whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice

  • seafood, lean meats, poultry, and eggs

  • fat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, or substitutes (like soy or rice milk) that are high in vitamin D and calcium

  • beans, nuts, and seeds

Eat less of these foods

Some foods have many calories but few of the vitamins, minerals, or fiber your body needs. Added sugars, solid fats, and refined grains pack a lot of calories into food but do not add nutrients. The Government's dietary guidelines recommend that you limit foods such as these:

  • sugar-sweetened drinks and desserts

  • foods with butter, shortening, or other fats that are solid at room temperature

  • white bread, rice, and pasta that are made from refined grains

Easy Snack Ideas

  • low-fat or fat-free yogurt

  • fresh, canned, or dried fruit

  • sliced vegetables or baby carrots

Quick Breakfast Ideas

  • oatmeal with low-fat or fat-free milk or a soy-based drink, topped with walnuts and fresh or dried fruit

  • a slice of whole-wheat toast with a thin piece of low-fat cheese

  • fruit smoothie made with frozen fruit and low-fat yogurt

  • high-fiber, low-sugar cereal with a soy-based beverage or fat-free milk

How can I follow a healthy eating plan?

These tips may help you stay on track with your plan to eat better:

  • Have low-fat, low-sugar snacks on hand. Whether you are at home, at work, or on the go, healthy snacks may help to combat hunger and prevent overeating.

  • Select a mix of colorful vegetables each day. Choose dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, collards, and mustard greens, and reds and oranges such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and tomatoes.

  • Eat breakfast every day. People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day.

  • Choose whole grains more often. Try whole-grain breads and pastas, oatmeal, brown rice, or bulgur.

  • Choose fresh fruit more often than fruit juice. Fruit juice has little or no fiber, the calories may be high, and many juices have added sugar.

  • Use fats and oils sparingly. Olive, canola, and peanut oils; avocados; nuts and seeds; olives; and fish provide heart-healthy fat as well as vitamins and minerals.

  • Limit foods and beverages that are high in sugar.

How much should I eat?

How much you should eat depends on your genes, sex, age, and how active you are. In general, men need more calories than women do, and younger adults need more calories than adults in midlife and older. At all ages, adults who are more physically active need to eat more calories than those who are less active.

Adapted from the NIH article, Health Tips for Adults.