Feel better today, stay healthy for tomorrow

The food and physical activity choices you make every day affect your health—how
you feel today, tomorrow, and in the future. Experts agree that the key to healthy
lifestyles include:

•     Make smart choices from every food group
•     Find your balance between food and physical activity
•     Get the most nutrition out of your calories

You may be eating plenty of food, but not eating the right foods that give your body
the nutrients you need to be healthy. You may not be getting enough physical activity
to stay fit and burn those extra calories.

Eating right and being physically active aren’t just a “diet” or a “program”—they are
keys to a healthy lifestyle. With healthful habits, you may reduce your risk of many
chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain
cancers, and increase your chances for a longer life.

The sooner you start the better for you, your family, and your future. Find more specific
information at www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines.

Make smart choices from every food group

The best way to give your body the balanced nutrition it needs is by eating a variety
of nutrient-packed foods every day. Just be sure to stay within your daily calorie needs.
A healthy eating plan is one that:

•     Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk
      and milk products
•     Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
•     Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars


It’s important to make smart food choices and watch portion sizes wherever you
are—at the grocery store, at work, in your favorite restaurant, or running errands.

Try these tips:

•     At the store, plan ahead by buying a variety of nutrient-rich foods for meals
      and snacks throughout the week
•     When grabbing lunch, have a sandwich on whole- grain bread and choose
      low-fat/fat-free milk, water, or other drinks without added sugars
•     In a restaurant, opt for steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those
      that are fried or sautéed
•     On a long commute or shopping trip, pack some fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables,
      string cheese sticks, or a handful of unsalted nuts—to help you avoid impulsive,
      less healthful snack choices.

Mix up your choices within each food group

Focus on fruits

Eat a variety of fruits—whether fresh, frozen, canned, or dried—rather than fruit juice
for most of your fruit choices. For a 2,000-calorie diet, you will need 2 cups of fruit
each day (for example, 1 small banana, 1 large orange, and 1/4 cup of dried apricots
or peaches).

Vary your veggies
Eat more dark green veggies, such as broccoli, kale, and other dark leafy greens;
orange veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash;
and beans and peas, such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo
beans, split peas, and lentils.

Get your calcium-rich foods
Get 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk—or an equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or
low-fat cheese (1½ ounces of cheese equals 1 cup of milk)—every day. For kids aged
2 to 8, it’s 2 cups of milk. If you don’t or can’t consume milk, choose lactose-free milk
products and/or calcium-fortified foods and beverages.

Make half your grains whole
Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta every
day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or ½ cup of
cooked rice or pasta. Look to see that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are
referred to as “whole” in the list of ingredients.

Go lean with protein
Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake it, broil it, or grill it. And vary your protein
choices—with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.

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