Eating healthy is one of the best things you can do for your body and your future. However, different sources of information will often provide you with conflicting advice when it comes to following a healthy diet, thus making it difficult for you to establish a good diet plan.
To help Americans improve their eating habits, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services collaborates with the USDA in order to publish a comprehensive guide to healthy eating known as “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” A new edition of this guide is developed and published every five years. The information within this document is based on proven scientific research and concepts.
Components of a Healthy Diet
Based on instructions from the most recent publication of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy diet should contain each of the following components.
- Whole Foods – According to the guide, people should eat a significant amount of whole, unprocessed foods every day in order to maximize their intake of fiber, minerals, vitamins, and other nutritious components while minimizing the consumption of preservatives, sweeteners, and other harmful additives.
- Limited Calories – To maintain a healthy weight, it is important to eat no more than the number of calories your body needs to function in a day. If you are trying to lose weight, limiting calories even further is recommended.
- Variety and Balance – Proper nutrition requires a variety of foods with representatives from each food group in the Food Guide Pyramid. Some of these foods, such as fruits and vegetables, should be consumed in higher amounts than others.
- Moderation – Eating healthy doesn’t require you to completely eliminate the unwholesome foods that you may enjoy, such as alcoholic beverages, processed foods, or foods containing sugar and fat. However, if you choose to consume these foods, you should do so in moderation.
- Regular Exercise – In addition to eating well, you should also engage in regular physical activity in order to burn more calories, build muscle mass, and improve your fitness.
With proper planning, adherence to the guidelines above, and continued effort, you can establish a habit of healthy eating and better health.