Strategies for Healthy Eating
Eating healthfully, whether at home, school, or work, can present a challenge.
Use these tips to help make healthy food choices easy.
Choose more fruits and vegetables
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetable gives you the necessary vitamins, minerals,
and fiber for your body to function at its best. Most people should eat 2½ to 6½ cups
of fruits and vegetables each day depending on age, gender, and activity level. Stir
fry vegetables, or toss a colorful fruit or vegetable salad.
Visually divide your plate into thirds
Fill two-thirds with fruit, vegetables, and grains. The last third is for beans, low-fat
dairy products, eggs, or meats.
Eat calcium-rich foods
Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and other milk products. If you cannot
consume milk products, choose lactose-free products or foods and beverages
fortified with calcium.
Look for the word “whole” in the ingredient list
The high dietary content of whole grains—with the bran, endosperm and germ
intact—helps you feel full longer and will help you get the fiber your body needs.
Whole grains include wheat, whole oats and oatmeal, whole rye, whole-grain corn,
millet, popcorn, brown rice, whole-grain barley, wild rice, buckwheat, triticale, bulgur,
quinoa, and sorghum. Refined grains have the bran and germ removed. White
bread, white rice, and products made with white flour are examples of refined
grains or foods made with refined grains. “Multigrain” or “made with whole grain”
products may contain little or no whole grain.
Rethink your drink
Soft drinks, sport drinks, sweet tea, and other drinks sweetened with sugar or high
fructose corn syrup are loaded with calories that can add up quickly throughout the
day. Limit your consumption of sweet drinks, including juice and juice drinks, by
choosing water and low-fat milk. Keep water and calorie-free beverages on hand
at work, in the car, and at home. Carry a water bottle with you and refill it
throughout the day.
Eat healthfully when dining out
Eating out has become a way of life for many families. Eating food prepared at
restaurants typically means larger portions; more fat, sugar, and calories; and
fewer fruits and vegetables. Strategies to lower calories when eating out include:
• Go to restaurants that serve low-fat options and be sure to choose those items.
• Avoid menu items that are described as crispy, creamy, sautéed, pan-fried,
buttery, breaded, or stuffed. Choose simple grilled or broiled seafood, chicken,
pork, or beef with no sauce or sauce served on the side.
• Split an entrée, order an appetizer as an entrée, or take home part of your meal.
• Choose a baked potato topped with chopped onions, peppers, and salsa instead
of fried sides.
• Skip salad dressings and sauces. Instead, drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.
Stock your pantry for healthy meals
A pantry stocked with pasta and rice, canned meats and beans, fruits and
vegetables, and your favorite spices and condiments is a must for home-cooked
meals. Keep ready-to-cook chicken and other lean meats and vegetables in
your freezer. Each week replenish the refrigerator with eggs, dairy products,
and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Having the ingredients on hand makes it
easy to quickly put together a delicious meal.
Try a stir fry for a quick and healthy meal
Stir frying is quick, uses a minimum of added fat, requires only one pan for easy
clean-up, and can include an endless variety of vegetable combination. Cooking
meat and vegetables quickly retains their texture and flavor.
Material used with permission from North Carolina State University
Cooperative Extension’s Successful Family Program