Smart eating isn’t what you don’t eat; it’s what you do eat. When making food choices, everyone must choose wisely. A proper diet and nutrition is key to good health, peak performance, disease resistance and overall wellness. It provides the body with essential nutrients and gives the boost of energy one needs to be their best throughout the day. Encourage your community to improve their health and eat wisely with these tips.
Tip #1: Think Positive
Making smart choices about your diet doesn’t have to be difficult, unpleasant or complicated, and healthy food doesn’t mean eating food that tastes bad or bland. Smart eating can introduce you to foods you may not have considered before. Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat, think about what you can eat.
Tip #2: Don’t Fall for Trendy Fad Diets
Smart eating must be a way of eating that you can follow for a long time. If you’re making a change to eat smart because you want to shed some weight, consider that rapid weight loss doesn’t mean lasting results. Research shows that losing weight at a gradual and steady pace (approximately 1 to 2 pounds weekly) has more long-term success. For a more healthful, reliable approach, rely on the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate Dietary Guidelines.
Tip #3: Read Nutrition Facts Labels
Read Nutrition Facts labels to choose products lower in salt (this includes sodium content), fat and sugar. When reading food labels, consider:
- The serving size: Serving size influences the amount of calories and nutrients on the label. How many servings are in the package, and how many will you be consuming?
- The listed calories: How many calories will you be consuming according to serving size?
- The nutrients information: Limit total fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugars.
- The footnote: Found in the lower part of the nutrition label, the footnote tells you the Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. It shows recommended dietary advice for all Americans and isn’t about a specific food product.
- The Percent Daily Value column. Percent Daily Values are recommended levels of intakes that can help you determine if a serving of food is high or low in a certain nutrient.
Tip #4: Plan Your Meals
Whether you’re cooking for one person or many, meal planning is a great way to choose the right foods and improve your diet.
- Make a list of your favorite meals. If some meals are not as healthy, eat them less often or find ways to make them healthier by using substitutions – e.g., instead of breading chicken, bake or grill the chicken instead.
- Plan your grocery list. Instead of going to the grocery store in a panic when the fridge is empty, plan ahead. Consider your list of meals, what’s already in your fridge and pantry, and what local produce is in season. Aim for a wide variety of foods with lower-calorie ingredients and choose lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.
Tip #5: Consider What’s in Season
Buying local seasonal produce is a great way to keep costs down and vary the healthy foods in your diet. To know what seasonal fruits and vegetables are local to your area, see the MyPlate, MyState feature on ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Tip #6: Choose Smart Snacks
- Fruits and vegetables that are either “grab and go” (e.g., apples, bananas), precut or washed and chopped.
- Low- and fat-free dairy options (e.g., cheese, yogurt).
- Protein like nuts and seeds.
- Whole grain crackers
Some more quick tips for eating smart:
- Avoid oversized portions.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
- Get most of your dietary fat from fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
- Choose lean meats.
So, when you consider your next meal or reach for that snack, take a moment to think about what you’re putting in your body. What you eat may stay with you for a very long time – make sure it’s a healthy choice!
For more information on various healthy eating products available to purchase for your community, browse the QuickSeries® library of guides, including Smart Nutrition.