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5 Tips to Get Started with Healthy Eating

Want to make some healthful changes to your diet? Follow these 5 simple tips to get started.

1. Balance Your Calories

Calorie balance—how many calories you consume vs. how many calories you burn—is the basic equation for weight management.

  • Choose nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, to help reach or maintain a healthy weight
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine to help keep the balance of calories out in line with calories in
2. Pile on Veggies and Fruits

Eat at least 2½ cups of fruits and vegetables every day to help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. But the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 5 or more cups per day. Fresh, canned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables are all good. But choose a variety of colors to get a good mix of nutrients, especially those that are dark green and red-orange.

  • Dip sliced veggies—carrots, cucumber, bell peppers—into protein-rich hummus for a mid-afternoon snack
  • Make veggie kabobs with chunks of bell pepper, zucchini and eggplant. Drizzle with heart-healthy olive oil and grill for a simple vegetable side dish
  • Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the counter as a visible reminder to get your daily allotment

To help satisfy your appetite, prevent overeating and boost your daily veggie intake, begin lunch or dinner with a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup.

3. Go with the (Whole) Grain

Whole grains support digestion, increase fiber, lower the risk of heart disease, and supply important B vitamins.

  • Replace white rice and pasta with brown rice and whole wheat varieties
  • Use whole wheat tortillas when making wraps, burritos or enchiladas
  • Add cooked whole grains, such as farro, bulgur or quinoa, to leafy green salads
4. Pack in Some Protein

Protein can provide many health benefits and helps keep you satisfied longer between meals. Mix up your menus by incorporating a variety of seafood, beans, soy products, nuts, seeds and lean meats.

  • Spread almond or peanut butter on whole grain toast for a midafternoon snack
  • Snack on edamame—soybeans in the pod—or add shelled edamame to soups
  • Use cooked lentils or beans in place of ground beef in tacos or burritos
  • Eat at least 8 oz. of seafood or fish per week in place of other lean proteins
5. Fat Matters

Fat is required for our bodies to work properly. Choose plant-based fats, like olive oil, and low-fat meats, poultry and dairy products for the best health benefits.

  • Spread nut butter on toast or in sandwiches instead of butter
  • Use mashed avocado on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise
  • Pour low-fat or fat-free milk over cereal or in coffee
  • Eat fish high in omega-3s, such as salmon, tuna and trout

What 12 foods should you add to your diet? Read: 12 Superfoods to Makeover Your Diet