10 Tips to Health Eating

Tip 1: Healthy Eating for Success

Sometimes taking on a big challenge like eating healthy can seem overwhelming. You may wonder if you have what it takes to succeed or you may wonder how you will feel if you are not successful. But, don’t worry! Healthy eating for success does not have to be one big drastic change. Think about planning your healthy diet in small and manageable steps that you can gradually change and commit to! Try to simplify your menu planning by finding foods you love that incorporate a few healthy items (e.g. fresh fruits and vegetables). Start low and go slow – make small changes like adding a salad to your meal –you can add more healthy choices as healthy eating becomes a habit. Remember, every healthy eating change you make to your diet matters!

Tip 2: Healthy Eating in Moderation

Keep in mind that eating healthy for life does not mean you must stop eating foods you really enjoy. Instead, try to eat smaller amounts of the less healthy foods and eat more fruits and vegetables at all times. This will help you get enough of the more nutritious foods and also limit the amount of less healthy foods you are able to eat at a time. Think smaller portions and just remember you need a balance to sustain a healthy body.

Tip 3: Healthy Eating Planning

Changing your eating habits can seem easy when you first set goals, but can be challenging over time due to setbacks. It is common to experience setbacks. The holiday season can be a difficult time to stay on track with your healthy eating plan. However, if you plan in advance you can decrease the likelihood of a setback. For example, during the holidays try eating smaller portion sizes or cutting back on added fat, salt, and sugar in your recipes. Develop a plan to overcome situations that may get you off track. 

Tip 4: Healthy Eating Rewards

Though healthy eating is beneficial and rewarding, it is important to reward yourself for small successes along the way. Rewards create a feeling of doing something you want to do. Make rewarding yourself a part of your healthy eating plan. Tangible rewards can be helpful. They do not need to be fancy or expensive, just something that you enjoy. Some tangible rewards can be taking a long bubble bath with no interruptions if you eat more fruits and vegetables or reduced your salt intake. Celebrate your successes and reward yourself!

Tip 5: Healthy Eating in a Healthy Environment

Very often our home and work environment can encourage us to make unhealthy choices - to eat a candy bar instead of fruit or grab a burger rather than prepare a low-fat meal. Try to make your environment more healthy eating “friendly”.  Make healthier food options more convenient by cutting veggies into bite-sized snacks and storing them in the fridge. Avoid temptations! Try not go down the junk food aisle when grocery shopping. Try not to super-size meals or try sharing them with a friend or family member. There are also things you can do to remind yourself to eat healthy. Keep healthier food choices at eye level in the fridge or cabinet. As you work to create a healthy environment, don’t be afraid to try different ideas. Find what works for you! 

Tip 6: Healthy Eating with Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are so important to a healthy eating plan. They are low in calories and packed with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. You should try to eat around 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit each day (depending on your age and gender). Remember that fruits and vegetables help protect against many chronic health conditions. Reduce your risk daily by eating more fruits and vegetables.

Tip 7: Healthy Eating with Whole Grains

Eating more whole grains and healthy carbohydrates can go a long way. At least half of all grains should be whole grains. Whole grains are delicious and satisfying because of the fiber. They also help to maintain normal blood sugar and insulin levels. Try to include a variety of whole grains in your healthy eating plan. Try brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat bread.  

Tip 8: Healthy Eating with less Fat

Heart healthy eating is so important for lowering risk of heart disease. Saturated fats and trans fat are dangerous to our heart health because they increase the chance of clogged arteries. Saturated fat is found mainly in animal products: meat, lard, dairy and eggs. Trans fat is man-made fat found in solid fats like shortening and stick margarine, and in foods made with these products like potato chips, crackers, snack cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and french fries. Most people are used to the taste that fat adds to meals. However, eating less fat -- especially saturated fat and trans fat -- lowers the risk of the #1 killer in the United States, cardiovascular disease. Make wise choices to protect your heart and cut back on the fat!

Tip 9: Healthy Eating with less Salt

You should cut back on salt and sodium in your diet to help prevent or lower blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, lowering it can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.  Moderate amounts of salt are needed to help our muscles work, but eating too much may put us at risk for health conditions. The DASH Eating Plan promotes eating between 1500-2300 milligrams of salt per person, per day – 2300 milligrams is about 1 teaspoon. Most Americans eat more than the recommended amount. Keep track of the amount of salt you eat. Be sure to read food labels, check the amount of salt in packaged foods, and limit the amount you cook with.  Salt can be hidden in processed and pre-packaged foods and sneak up on us!

Tip 10: Healthy Eating without Sugars

Try to limit the amount of sugar you eat. Sugar causes energy levels to go up and down and can cause unhealthy weight gain or diabetes. Most Americans are unaware of how much sugar they consume each day. Large amounts of added sugar can be found in fast food, frozen dinners, canned soups and vegetables, and breads. Avoid candy, cakes, desserts and sugary drinks. Eat naturally sweet food such as fruits.

To learn more tips on healthy eating, please check out the Ten Tips Nutrition Education Series for easy-to-follow tips in printer friendly format - perfect for posting on the fridge! These tips are also available in Spanish!