Every five years, the government makes a healthy food guide called the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It tells people how to eat a healthy diet. It is based on science research.
Follow the guidelines as best you can. Make a few small changes over time. Here are some key points from the new 2010 version:
"Enjoy your food, but eat less."
If you eat too many calories, you may gain weight. Choose foods rich in vitamins and minerals (like fruits and vegetables). Try to limit foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients (like chips, soda and other junk food).
"Avoid oversized portions"
It's easy to overeat if you put too much food on your plate. Try using smaller plates.
Eat more of some foods:
"Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables." Divide your meal into two sections. Fill one half with fruits and veggies. The more color, the better. Try using red, orange, and dark green foods. In the other half, put whole grains and protein. Protein can be lean meats or beans. Think about eating more plant foods and less of everything else.
"Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk." Milk is good for you. But, whole milk has extra fat and calories. Switch to lower fat milk slowly. Your family will get used to it after a while. Low fat or fat free milk has the same nutrients as whole milk.
Eat less of some foods:
"Compare sodium in foods like soup, breakfast foods, and frozen meals - choose the foods with lower numbers."
Eating sodium can make high blood pressure worse. This can lead to problems with your heart over time. Read food labels to see how much sodium is in the food. Stop using the salt shaker.
"Drink water instead of sugary drinks"
Sugary sweet drinks are items like soda or fruit drinks. These drinks add a lot of calories without making you feel full. It's easy to drink too much of them. When you are thirsty, choose water. It is calorie free!
These tips from the Dietary Guidelines can help improve health and nutrition. Decide what steps you and your family can take, starting now!
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in cooperation with the
Maryland Department of Human Resources and the University of Maryland. The University of Maryland Extension
will not discriminate against any person because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation,
physical or mental disability,
religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information,
and gender identity or expression.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
assistance to people
with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more,
contact the Maryland Department of Human Resources at 1-800-332-6347 or apply online at www.marylandsail.org.