Balance Your Diet for Better Health

General guidelines for overall healthy eating and dieting:

  • Walk on a regular basis. Walking can help prevent chronic disease, strengthen your muscles and bones, and minimize stress.
  • Get to know your genetic makeup. Find out if any diseases run in your family. It's a good idea to know, so you can be proactive and take steps to reduce your risk of developing the disease. Remember to share your family history with your primary care physician.
  • Drink water. Water helps improve brain function, increase energy levels and improve physical performance.
  • Relax and unwind. Stress is a major contributor to weight gain because it can cause you to turn to food for comfort. Meditation, yoga, a warm bath and making time for your interests or hobbies can reduce your stress level.
  • Replace side dishes with healthier options. Instead of eating fries, onion rings or potato chips with your sandwich, choose a side of veggies, fruit or salad.

What is a balanced diet? Read about MyPlate recommendations.

Vegetables

  • Vary your vegetables.
  • Eat 2-2½ cups a day.
  • Eat more dark green and orange vegetables.

Examples: broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, spinach and green beans

Fruits

  • Vary your fruits.
  • Eat 1½-2 cups a day.
  • Eat fresh, frozen, canned in natural juice or no-sugar-added dried fruit.
  • Minimize fruit juices.

Examples: apples, bananas, grapes, peaches and strawberries

Grains

  • Make your grains whole.*
  • Eat at least 3 ounces of whole grains a day.

Examples: foods made with whole wheat, oats, barley, bulgar; brown rice

*Look for “whole” before the grain name on the list of ingredients

Meat and Beans

  • Choose lean proteins.
  • Eat 5-5½ ounces per day.
  • Choose low-fat or lean meat and poultry.
  • Bake, broil or grill it.
  • Vary your choices.

Examples: chicken, beans, nuts, peanut butter, seeds, eggs and fish

Milk/Dairy

  • Go low fat or fat free.
  • Consume 3 cups a day.
  • If you do not drink milk, choose lactose-free products or other calcium sources.

Examples: cheese, yogurt and milk

Oils

  • Get most of your fats and oils from fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
  • Have 5-6 teaspoons per day.
  • Limit solid fats such as butter, lard, shortening and stick margarine

Examples: olive oil, butter margarine 

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