Good food is one of life’s greatest pleasures. For most healthy people, no foods should be considered out of bounds. It’s how you balance your daily diet that matters.
ChooseMyPlate graphic courtesy of USDA
The USDA’s My Plate graphic makes a balanced diet easier to visualize. Note the emphasis on grains and vegetables, which ideally should cover more than half of your healthy plate. For optimum health, also pay attention to the following guidelines:
At least half of the grains you eat each day should be whole, not processed.
Vary the proteins you eat. In addition to meat and seafood, include vegetable proteins like beans, dried peas and lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds. The American Heart Association recommends 2 servings of Omega-3 rich fatty fish each week. Choose lean cuts of meat and opt for healthy ways to prepare them. For tips, visit our Neighborhood Butcher link. More information is available through our site at Healthy Living>proteins.
Go for maximum antioxidant benefits with a mix of vegetables in many hues, from deep orange to deep green.
Limit fruit juice in favor of fresh fruit. If you’re watching calories, go for low-calorie options.
With low-fat or nonfat dairy, you get the health benefits with less fat and fewer calories.
Opt for liquid fats over solid. Steer clear of trans fats and follow guidelines for sodium and sugar consumption. Explore preparation methods that require less fat and replace (at least in part) salt with fresh herbs. Keep in mind that when you eat a balanced plate, it will be easier to forego empty calories that fill you up without meeting nutritional needs.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, make physical activity part of your lifestyle. Find activities you enjoy and if possible, friends to help keep you on track.
For adults 18 to 64 years of age, aim for a combination of aerobic and strengthening activities every week. At minimum, do at least 2 ½ hours of aerobic activity at a moderate level OR 1 ¼ hours at a vigorous level. Being active 5 or more hours per week is even better. Spread aerobic activity over at least 3 days a week. Add strength exercises at least twice a week. Stretching should also be part of your routine.
Healthy children and teens (6 to 17 years of age) need an hour or more of physical activity per day, most of it moderate to vigorous, with an hour of vigorous activity at least 3 days a week. Activity should be mostly aerobic, but developmentally appropriate muscle- and bone-strengthening activities are also important. It’s best to change things up with a variety of activities each week – and to keep it fun.
Children aged 2 to 5 should play actively several times a day. Activities should be developmentally appropriate and fun. It’s best to change things up with a variety of activities each week.
Get additional help with your healthy diet by visiting http://www.choosemyplate.gov/SuperTracker/