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5 Steps for Eating Healthier

Changing the way you eat can improve your health. It can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and help you stay at a healthy weight. Your diet doesn’t have to be bland and boring to be healthy. Just watch your calories and follow these steps:

Broiled salmon with herbs on bed of edamame.

Step 1. Eat fewer unhealthy fats

  • Choose more fish and lean meats instead of fatty cuts of meat.

  • Skip butter and lard, and use less margarine. Replace these with healthier fats, such as olive, canola, or avocado oils.

  • Pass on foods that have palm, coconut, or partially hydrogenated oils.

  • Eat fewer high-fat dairy foods like cheese, ice cream, and whole milk.

  • Get a heart-healthy cookbook and try some new recipes.

Step 2. Go light on salt

  • Keep the saltshaker off the table.

  • Limit high-salt ingredients, such as soy sauce, bouillon, and garlic salt.

  • Instead of adding salt when cooking, season your food with herbs, spices, and other flavorings. Try lemon, garlic, onion, vinegar, or salt-free herb seasonings.

  • Limit convenience foods, such as boxed or canned foods and restaurant food.

  • Read food labels and choose lower-sodium options. Buy fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables that don't have added salt.

Step 3. Limit sugar

  • Pause before you add sugars to pancakes, cereal, coffee, or tea. This includes white and brown table sugar, syrup, honey, and molasses. Cut your usual amount by half.

  • Swap out sugar-filled soda and other drinks. Buy sugar-free or low-calorie beverages. Remember, water is always the best choice. Try adding lemon juice to water for extra flavor.

  • Read labels and choose foods with less added sugar. Keep in mind that dairy foods and foods with fruit will have some natural sugar.

  • Cut the sugar in recipes by 1/3 to 1/2. Boost the flavor with extracts like almond, vanilla, or orange. Or add spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg.

Step 4. Eat more fiber

  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Boost your diet with whole grains. Go for oats, whole-grain rice, and bran.

  • Add beans and lentils to your meals.

  • Drink more water to match your fiber increase to help prevent constipation.

Step 5. Pay attention to serving sizes

  • Remember that a serving size is a standard measurement. It will let you track the amount of fat, calories, and other nutrients in the food you eat.

  • Read the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods to learn their serving sizes.

  • Use serving sizes to assess how much food you put on your plate. Pay attention to your portions. How many servings are you eating?

  • Keep in mind that your needs may change if you’re more active or less active, or if you have other factors that change your calorie needs.

  • Use your hand to help you measure serving sizes. For example:

    • 1 teaspoon: This is about the size of the first joint of your thumb.

    • 1 tablespoon: This is about the size of the first 2 joints of your thumb.

    • 1 ounce: This is about what you can fit in your cupped hand.

    • 2 to 3 ounces: This is about the size of the palm of your hand.

    • ½ cup: This is also about what you can fit in your cupped hand.

    • 1 cup: This is about the size of your fist.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CD CDE
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2022
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.