Healthy Diet = Healthy Life
Your food choices each day affect your health — how you feel today, tomorrow, and in the future.
Our eating habits need help. Fast food, high-calorie desserts, sweet drinks, and more have filled us up -- and out. Most adults and 1 in 3 children in the U.S. are overweight or obese. A healthy lifestyle involves many choices. Among them, choosing a balanced diet or healthy eating plan. Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.
The link between good nutrition and healthy weight, reduced chronic disease risk, and overall health is too important to ignore. By taking steps to eat healthy, you'll be on your way to getting the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, active, and strong. As with physical activity, making small changes in your diet can go a long way, and it's easier than you think!
It's really not as hard as it seems! Calories are simply a measurement tool, like inches, cups or ounces.
Calories measure the energy a food or beverage provides from the carbohydrate, fat, protein, and alcohol it contains. They give you the fuel or energy you need to work and play – even to rest and sleep! When choosing what to eat and drink, it's important to get the right mix – enough nutrients without too many calories.
Paying attention to those calories is an important part of managing your weight because the amount of calories you need is different if you want to gain, lose, or maintain your weight. Tracking what you eat and drink (and how much) can help you better understand your daily caloric intake. You can also use the Nutrition Facts label or nutrition information on menus and food boxes to see how many calories are in a specific food or beverage.
*Solid fats and added sugars count for about 800 of our daily calories. That's almost half the calories an average woman should have in a DAY!
How much you eat and drink can affect your weight and risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The amount of food you eat is one of the most important parts of building a healthy eating style. Choosing smaller portions can help you stay within your calories needs. Be aware of the amount of what you eat and drink during meals and snacks. Some commonly eaten foods can provide more calories than we realize. You can cut down on calories by choosing a smaller portion. For example, a large order of fries can contain over 500 calories, but a small order contains only half of that amount. The amount people eat has increased over time, and many of us eat far more than we realize. Start downsizing to healthy portions and your body will too!
Create a Healthy Eating Style
There is more than one way to eat healthfully and everyone has their own eating style. Healthy eating styles are based on choosing foods that contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other healthful nutrients or ingredients and choosing the amount of calories you need to maintain a healthy weight.
So how do you choose a healthy eating style?
Let's begin by defining what a healthy eating plan is. Choose fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods to get the most nutrition and meet your personal calorie needs. The most nutritious or nutrient-dense foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, unsalted nuts and seeds, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and poultry – all with little or no 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.
Use the tips and links below to find little victories that work for you.
• Focus on whole fruits more often than drinking 100% juice.
• Snack on fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits instead of cookies, brownies or other sugar-sweetened treats.
• Offer whole fruits without saturated fat, sodium, or added sugars as dessert.
Vary Your Veggies
• Vary your veggies to include green, red, and orange choices.
• Add fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables to salads, side dishes, and recipes.
• Prepare your vegetables without sauces, gravies, or glazes to lower the amount of sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.
• Find high fiber, whole-grain foods by reading the Nutrition Facts label and ingredients list.
• Some common whole grains include oatmeal, whole wheat flour, and popcorn.
• Buy low-fat or fat-free cheese more often than regular cheese.
• Regular cream cheese, butter, and cream are not in the dairy food group because they have little or no calcium. They are also high in saturated fat.
• Select seafood twice a week, including fish and shellfish.
• Add beans or peas, unsalted nuts and seeds, and soy in main dishes and snacks.
• Use the ingredient list to find choices with less added sugars.
• Cut back on sugary beverages such as fruit drinks and soda.
• BMI (Body Mass Index) Calculatorr
• 10 Tips for Men: Get the Facts to Feel and Look Better
• 10 Tips for Women: Make Better Food Choices
• 10 Tips for Men and Women: Healthy Eating for an Active Lifestyle
• Adult Energy Needs and Body Mass Index Calculator
No More Comfort Food?
Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while, and balancing them out with healthier foods and more physical activity.
Some general tips for comfort foods:
- Eat them less often. If you normally eat these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month. You'll be cutting your calories because you're not having the food as often.
- Eat smaller amounts. If your favorite higher-calorie food is a chocolate bar, have a smaller size or only half a bar.
- Try a lower-calorie version. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare food differently.
If your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with non-fat milk, less butter, light cream cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes. Just remember to not increase your portion size.
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