How to Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet provides a variety of foods that provide the nutrients you need to stay healthy. These include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein foods (either plant-based or from lean meats). It is also low in added sugar, sodium and saturated and industrially-produced trans fats. Eating well helps protect against many chronic non-communicable diseases and supports your mental health. It can also help you control your weight, which in turn can lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. To start eating a healthier diet, aim for a balanced meal at each mealtime. Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables and one quarter with fruit, and add a serving of milk or yogurt (low-fat or non-fat). Choose whole grain foods over refined options like white bread or rice. Add healthy fats to your diet, such as those found in nuts, seeds, or fish. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water! Incorporate whole foods into your meals and snacks as much as possible. Replace processed snacks and desserts with fresh, healthy ones like carrot sticks with hummus or apple slices with natural peanut butter. Try to cook from scratch as often as you can to control the ingredients and reduce sodium and unhealthy fat intakes. Try to limit the amount of added sugar in your diet as this can cause unwanted weight gain. Choose sugar-free or low-sugar versions of beverages and snacks to help cut back. When it comes to cooking, use herbs and spices instead of salt to season food. It is easy for children to be conditioned to crave French fries and pizza and dislike broccoli and carrots, but it’s possible to change this. Make healthy eating a family affair by including everyone in meal preparation and planning and sitting down together for meals whenever you can. Eat slowly and mindfully. It takes your brain a few minutes to register that you are full, so take the time to enjoy your food and stop when you’re feeling satisfied. It’s also important to eat with others as this can decrease mindless overeating and boost feelings of fullness. If you do need to cut back on certain foods, do so gradually. It can be difficult to get used to the taste of foods without added sugar and salt, so gradually cutting down on these items can help you adjust. Also, remember that it’s okay to have the occasional unhealthy snack — but it should be just that: an occasional treat! For more information about healthy eating, speak to a registered dietitian. Cone Health offers nutrition counseling through our wellness centers. Click here to learn more.