Maintaining a Healthy Diet
Why is a healthy diet important?
Food is the body's source of fuel. When you pay attention to what you eat, your body runs at its best. With a healthy diet, you can improve your energy level and appearance while preventing illness and disease.
How do I maintain a healthy diet?
The food pyramid below shows us how to design a healthy, well-balanced diet. Try to eat a wide variety of food, but in general, you should eat more from the bottom of the pyramid, and less from the top.
The food pyramid supports these important nutritional guidelines:
Eat less fat
- By cutting down on fatty foods, you will reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, and obesity.
- Limit your intake of foods in the "Others" category, like butter, salad dressing, chips, cookies, and rich desserts. It's okay to have a "treat" every so often, but fatty foods should not be a major part of any diet.
- Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are major sources of calcium (which helps keep your bones strong), but they're also high in fat. If you eat dairy products made from low-fat or skim milk, you can get the calcium you need without all of the extra fat.
- Meat, poultry, and fish are good sources of protein, but they can also be high in fat. To lower your fat intake, choose only lean cuts of meat and remove skin from poultry. Try to vary your diet to include dried beans and peas. These low-fat sources of protein make great meatless entrees.
Eat more fiber
- A high fiber diet helps lower your cholesterol level and helps prevent constipation and intestinal problems. It may also reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables contain little or no fat, and are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. At snack time, crunchy vegetables and sweet fruit make great alternatives to fatty chips and cookies. When cooking with vegetables, try steaming them and avoid heavy toppings.
- Grains like breads, cereals, rice, and pasta are known as complex carbohydrates or starches. They are great sources of fiber and should make up the bulk of your diet. Starches themselves are not fattening, but the butter, creams, and heavy sauces we often put on them are. Try to stick to low-fat seasonings instead.