Good nutrition and physical activity are important habits for you, your family and your friends to practice for life-long health.
Eating healthful foods and exercising at every stage of life will help you:
- enjoy great tasting foods
- build physical strength and endurance
- feel your best and work productively
- reduce your risk of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer
How do you get started on healthy eating?
Healthy eating starts with thinking about food differently and learning new ways to eat, such as adding more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and cutting back on foods that have a lot of fat, salt, and sugar.
A change to healthier eating also includes learning about balance, variety, and moderation.
- Aim for balance. Most days, eat from each food group-grains, protein foods, vegetables and fruits, and dairy. Listen to your body. Eat when you're hungry. Stop when you feel satisfied.
- Look for variety. Be adventurous. Choose different foods in each food group. For example, don't reach for an apple every time you choose a fruit. Eating a variety of foods each day will help you get all the nutrients you need.
- Practice moderation. Don't have too much or too little of one thing. All foods, if eaten in moderation, can be part of healthy eating. Even sweets can be okay.
Why pay attention to what you eat?
Healthy eating will help you get the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It will help you feel your best and have plenty of energy. It can help you handle stress better.
Healthy eating is one of the best things you can do to prevent and control many health problems, such as:
- Heart disease.
- High blood pressure.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Some types of cancer.
Healthy habits should be:
Realistic - Small changes work best. Don’t try to change everything at once. To begin, set an easy goal you can reach, like having a salad and a piece of fruit each day.
Flexible - Don't worry about one meal or one day. Balance your physical activity and what you eat over several days.
Sensible - Enjoy food, just don't overdo it. All foods can be included in a healthy eating plan. It’s just that some foods should be included less often or in smaller portions. Concentrate on eating foods that are higher in nutrients and lower in added fats, sugars and sodium.
Is healthy eating the same as going on a diet?
Healthy eating is not a diet. It means making changes you can live with and enjoy for the rest of your life. Diets are temporary. Because you give up so much when you diet, you may be hungry and think about food all the time. And after you stop dieting, you also may overeat to make up for what you missed.
Eating a healthy, balanced variety of foods is far more satisfying. And if you match that with more physical activity, you are more likely to get to a healthy weight-and stay there-than if you diet.