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Eating a Healthy Diet

Eating healthy foods can help lower your risk for disease. It is one of the best preventative measures for your whole health. Making choices for nutrient-dense food gives you energy, keeps your heart healthy, your brain active, your muscles working, and your bones strong. 

A healthy diet includes a variety of foods from the basic food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products, and meat and beans. Some people may eat more of their favorite foods from only one food group and, as a result, miss getting the nutrients they need. So, it is important to pay attention not only to what you eat but also to what you are missing from your diet. You can eat a healthy, balanced diet by making a few small changes. 

How do you know if your diet is healthy?

Look at what you eat 

◦ 6 or more ounce-equivalents of grains, such as cereals, bread, crackers, rice, or pasta, every day. An ounce-equivalent is 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal. 

◦ 2½ cups of vegetables, especially: 

▪ Dark-green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.

▪ Orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes. 

▪ Dry beans (such as pinto and kidney beans) and peas (such as lentils). 

◦ 2 cups of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit. A small apple or 1 banana or orange equals 1 cup. ◦ 3 cups of nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, or other milk products. 

◦ 5½ ounces of meat and beans, such as chicken, fish, lean meat, beans, nuts, and seeds. One egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, ½ ounce nuts or seeds, or ¼ cup of cooked beans equals 1 ounce of meat. 

Start small 

◦ Use whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. 

◦ Use nonfat or low-fat milk instead of whole milk. 

◦ Eat brown rice instead of white rice, and eat whole wheat pasta instead of white-flour pasta. ◦ Try low-fat cheeses and low-fat yogurt. 

◦ Add more fruits and vegetables to meals and have them for snacks. 

◦ Add lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and onion to sandwiches. 

◦ Add fruit to yogurt and cereal. 

Enjoy food 

Make healthy choices when eating out 

◦ A veggie pizza with a whole wheat crust or grilled chicken (instead of sausage or pepperoni). ◦ Pasta with roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, or marinara sauce instead of cream sauce. ◦ A vegetable wrap or grilled chicken wrap. 

◦ Broiled or poached food instead of fried or breaded items.

Make healthy choices easy 

©2006-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. 

Author
Ellie McLean

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