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Eat Healthy

    family eating healthy food

    Content last updated on:
    February 13, 2013

    The Basics

    Your body needs the right vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to stay healthy. A healthy diet means that you are eating:

    • Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products
    • Seafood, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans, peas, seeds, and nuts

    Limit foods high in:

    • Cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugars
    • Trans fats – Trans fats may be in foods like cakes, cookies, stick margarines, and fried foods.
    • Saturated fats – These fats come from animal products like cheese, fatty meats, whole milk, and butter.
    • Refined grains – Food products with refined grains include white bread, noodles, white rice, and flour tortillas.

    Get a personalized Daily Food Plan to help you choose healthy foods.

    The Basics

    A healthy diet can keep your body strong and active.
    By making smart food choices, you can help reduce your risk for:

    • Heart disease
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Some cancers
    • Bone loss
    Take Action!

    Take Action!

    Making small changes to your eating habits can make a big difference for your health. Here are some tips and tools to get you started.

    Keep a food diary.
    Knowing what you eat now will help you make changes. Starting today, write down:

    • When you eat
    • What you eat
    • How much you eat
    • Where and with whom you eat
    • How you are feeling when you eat

    For example:
    Tuesday 3:30 pm, 2 chocolate chip cookies, at work with Mary, feeling stressed

    Get started today:

    Take Action!

    Plan ahead to save time.
    Planning your meals for the day or week can save you time and money. These tools can help you plan healthy meals that are easy to make and taste great.

    Try these other tips to save time:

    • Cook several main dishes on the weekend when you have more time. Make enough to get you through the busy weeknights.
    • Rinse and chop vegetables the day before you will need them.

    Check out these tips for planning healthy meals [PDF - 410 KB].

    Find recipes that work for you.
    If you are looking for ethnic foods or special recipes, try these tools:

    Take Action!

    Shop smart at the grocery store.
    Try these tips the next time you go shopping:

    Use this healthy foods checklist to make your shopping list.

    Take Action!

    Nutrition Facts Label
    Click this picture for more about how to read a nutrition facts label.

    Read the nutrition facts label.

    • Look at the serving size and the number of servings per package.
    • Check out the percent Daily Value (% DV) column.
    • Try to keep saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium at 5% or less.
    • Look for foods that have 20% or more of fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.

    Use this interactive tool to practice using food labels to make healthy choices.

    Take Action!

    Be a healthy family.
    Parents and caregivers are important role models. You can teach kids how to choose and prepare healthy foods. Try turning grocery shopping and cooking into fun activities for the whole family.

    Do you have a family member who has a hard time eating healthy? Use these tips to start a conversation about how you can help.

    Eat healthy away from home.
    You can make smart food choices wherever you are – at work, in your favorite restaurant, or running errands. Try these tips for eating healthy even when you are away from home:

    • At lunch, have a sandwich on whole-grain bread.
    • Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, water, or 100% fruit juice.
    • In a restaurant, choose steamed, broiled, or grilled dishes instead of fried foods.
    • On a long drive or shopping trip, pack fresh fruit, unsalted nuts, or fat-free or low-fat string cheese sticks to snack on.

    Get more tips for eating healthy when dining out.

    Take Action!

    If you are concerned about your diet, talk to a doctor.
    If you need help making healthier eating choices, your doctor or nurse can help. Be sure to take a food diary with you to help start the conversation.

    What about cost?
    Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, diet counseling is covered for people at higher risk for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

    Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get diet counseling at no cost to you. Check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan.

    For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.

    Manage your high blood pressure or diabetes.
    If you or a loved one has high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease, talk with your doctor about how to stay healthy. If you need a special diet, check out these Web sites:

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