Healthy Eating

Jump Start Your Health with Great Nutrition

Why eat a healthy diet? Healthy eating habits can reduce the risk of many diseases. Providing the body with the proper amount and kind of nutrients can improve your lifestyle and well-being. Get more information about dietary guidelines from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Nutrients

  • Get adequate vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats while staying within your calorie needs. 
  • Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages. This means they're rich in nutrients when compared to the calorie level. Examples of foods with high nutrient to calorie ratios include:
    • Fruits and vegetables prepared without added sugar or fat
    • Low fat cheese, milk, and yogurt
    • Whole grain breads and cereals
    • Legume products, including beans, tofu, and fortified soy milk.
  • Minimize your intake of empty calorie foods. Save them for occasional use at special events. Examples of empty calorie foods include:
    • Fried foods, like chips, that are high in calories, fat, and salt, but don't provide essential nutrients
    • Desserts and snacks that have fat and sugar, like cake, pie, cookies, and candy
    • Sweetened beverages like soda
    • Alcoholic drinks, like beer, wine, and cocktails

Calories

Eat the right number of calories (kcal) each day to reach and maintain a healthy body weight.

Calorie Counter

Fruits and Vegetables

Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. They contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals (plant substances that have helpful bio-active properties).

What counts as a serving when measuring fruits and vegetables?

  • 1 cup of raw fruits or vegetables
  • 1/2 cup cooked or canned
  • 6 oz. of 100% juice

How many servings should you have a day?

  • The more you have, the better! Aim for a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day.

Whole Grains

  • Whole grains contain the germ and the bran of the kernel. They are higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals (vitamins E and B complex and zinc).
  • Try to choose whole grain cereals rather than refined products with added sugars.
  • What counts as a serving of whole grain?
    • 1 slice or 1 oz of whole grain bread
    • 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice, oatmeal, or whole wheat pasta
    • 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal
  • How many servings should you have in a day?
    • 3 or more

Dairy

  • It's best to choose skim or 1% milk products.
  • Dairy is rich in high-quality protein. One serving has about 8 grams of protein.
  • Dairy is also high in calcium. One serving has about 300 mg.
  • Milk is fortified with vitamins A and D.
  • Fortified soy milk is a good dairy substitute.
  • What counts as a serving of dairy?
    • 8 oz of milk or yogurt
    • 1 oz of cheese
  • How many servings should you have a day?
    • 3 or 4 to get 1000 to 12000 mg of calcium each day

Protein

  • How much protein do I need each day?
    • Most people need about 0.8 g/kg of protein each day.
    • People weight training to gain muscle mass may safely eat more.
  • Which foods are a good source of protein?
    • Meat, fish, poultry, and cheese have about 7 g of protein per oz
    • Cooked meat, tuna, chicken, cottage cheese, and shredded cheese have about 7 g of protein per 1/4 cup
    • Milk and yogurt have about 8 g of protein per cup
    • Cooked dry beans, including pinto, red, black, brown, lentils, and more, have 8 g of protein per 1/2 cup
    • Tofu has 1 - 2 g of protein per oz (firm tofu has more protein than softer types of tofu)
  • Try to choose lean meats and low-fat cheeses when possible.

Fats

  • Fats are high in energy, at 9 kcal/gram, and can promote weight gain.
  • Choose healthy oils and nuts with  mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
    • Olives and avocados
    • Olive,  peanut, and canola oils
    • Soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, and flax seed oils
  • Nuts are high in healthy fat and calories, but are also a good source of protein. To equal the amount of protein in 1 oz. of meat or 1 serving of dairy food:
    • 1 oz. peanuts or 2 Tbs. peanut butter (190 kcal)
    • 1 oz. (12) almonds (170 kcal)
    • 2 oz. walnuts (370 kcal)
    • 3 oz. pecans (588 kcal)
  • Avoid saturated and trans fats:
    • The fat in whole milk, cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, and butter is highly saturated.
    • High fat meats, like bacon, sausage, regular lunch meats, and brisket, are high in saturated fats. Avoid bacon grease and lard, too.
    • Solid shortening and many commercially prepared foods contain trans fats.
    • Read labels - combined saturated and trans fat content should be less than 2 grams per serving.

Fluids

  • Stay hydrated. Most people need to consume about 1/2 oz. of fluid for each pound of their body weight each day.
    • ex: a 150 lb. person needs 150 x 0.5 = 75 oz of fluid. That's about 9 eight oz. cups per day.
  • Drink extra liquids when you exercise or sweat excessively.
  • Choose water whenever possible.

References

Dietary Reference Intakes. Food & Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies of Science. http://www.nap.edu, May 2007.