Healthy eating starts with learning new ways to eat, such as adding more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and cutting back on foods that have a lot of fat, salt, and sugar.
You may be surprised at how easy it can be to eat healthy foods and how good it will make you feel. Healthy eating is not a diet. It means making changes you can live with and enjoy for the rest of your life.
Healthy eating is about balance, variety, and moderation.
Aim for balance
Having a well-balanced diet means that you eat enough, but not too much, and that food gives you the nutrients you need to stay healthy. So listen to your body. Eat when you're hungry. Stop when you feel satisfied.
On most days, try to eat from each food group. This means eating a variety of:
- Whole grains, such as whole wheat breads and pastas.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Dairy products, such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Lean proteins, such as all types of fish, chicken without the skin, and beans.
Look for variety
Be adventurous. Choose different foods in each food group. For example, don't reach for an apple every time you choose a fruit. Eating a variety of foods each day will help you get all the nutrients you need.
Don't have too much or too little of one thing. All foods, if eaten in moderation, can be part of healthy eating. Even sweets can be okay.
If your favorite foods are high in fat, salt, sugar, or calories, limit how often you eat them. Eat smaller servings, or look for healthy substitutes.
Getting started on healthier eating
If you're trying to eat in healthier ways, you may need to change some of your daily habits. But you don't need to make huge changes. Over time, small changes can make a big difference.
Here's how to get started.
- Start slowly.
Small changes are easier to make than big ones. So change your eating habits a little bit at a time. For example, try switching from white rice to brown rice or white bread to whole-grain bread. Or drink water instead of high-sugar drinks.
- Add some healthy foods.
Focus on adding healthy food to your diet, rather than just taking unhealthy foods away. For example, add vegetables to sandwiches or add fruit to yogurt and cereal.
- Help yourself make healthy choices.
- Keep more healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, at home.
- Pack a healthy lunch and snacks for work.
- Have friends or family try a healthy meal with you.
- Put your snacks on a plate instead of eating from the package.
- Limit how often you eat out.
- Try mindful eating.
- Be aware of your hunger and respond to what your body tells you.
- Try to include foods that you enjoy eating. They can be healthy or just something you like.
- Fully enjoy the flavor, smell, texture, and color of your food.
- Take your time when you eat.
- Avoid distractions, such as screens or books, while you eat.
- Dietary Guidelines for Good Health
- Healthy Eating: Cutting Unhealthy Fats From Your Diet
- Healthy Eating: Eating Less Sodium
- Healthy Eating: Making Healthy Choices When You Eat Out
- Healthy Eating: Making Healthy Choices When You Shop
- Healthy Eating: Recognizing Your Hunger Signals
- Major Nutrients in Food
- Minerals: Their Functions and Sources
- Quick Tips: Adding Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet
- Quick Tips: Making Fast, Healthy Meals
- Quick Tips: Making Healthy Snacks
- Vitamins: Their Functions and Sources