What you’re putting into your body can make a big difference for your health. The good news is that it’s easier than you think to start eating healthy. Take small steps each week to improve your nutrition so you can move toward a healthier you.
Try incorporating these 8 healthy eating goals below to your diet to get started.
1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables, for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as a dessert. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.
2. Make half the grains you eat whole grains
An easy way to eat more whole grains is to switch from a refined-grain food to a whole-grain food. For example, eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Read the ingredients list and choose products that list a whole-grain ingredient first. Look for things like “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “rolled oats,” quinoa,” or “wild rice.”
3. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
Going from whole milk to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk is an easy way to incorporate a healthier alternative into your diet. Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk but include fewer calories and less saturated fat.
4. Choose a variety of lean protein foods
Meat, poultry, seafood, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group. Try selecting ground beef, turkey breast, or chicken breast labeled 90% lean or higher to cut down on unwanted fats.
5. Compare sodium in foods
Consuming too much sodium can be bad for your health, so make sure to use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods, such as soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks
Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets. Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or watermelon to your glass of water if you want some flavor.
7. Eat some seafood
Seafood includes fish (such as salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (such as crab, mussels, and oysters). Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fat). Adults should try to eat at least eight ounces of a variety of seafood per week. Children can eat smaller amounts of seafood, too.
8. Cut back on solid fats
Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies, and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine, or shortening); pizza; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.
Try incorporating these 8 healthy eating tips over next few weeks. If all 8 at once seems a bit overwhelming, try adding one goal in each week for the next 8 weeks. Remember that small changes can make a big difference to your health, so give it a try.