WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A regular diet is a healthy meal plan that includes a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups. Follow this meal plan if you do not have any health conditions that require a special diet. A healthy meal plan is low in unhealthy fats, salt, and added sugar. It may decrease your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis (brittle bones), and some types of cancer.
Healthy meal plan:
My Plate is a model for planning healthy meals. It shows the types and amounts of foods that should go on your plate. Fruits and vegetables make up about half of your plate, and grains and protein make up the other half. A serving of dairy is also included. The amount of calories and serving sizes you need depends on your age, gender, weight, and height. Examples of healthy foods are listed below:
- Eat a variety of vegetables such as dark green, red, and orange vegetables. You can also include canned vegetables low in sodium (salt) and frozen vegetables without added butter or sauces.
- Eat a variety of fresh fruits , canned fruit in 100% juice, frozen fruit, and dried fruit.
- Include whole grains. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains. Examples include whole wheat bread, wheat pasta, brown rice, and whole grain cereals such as oatmeal.
- Eat a variety of protein foods such as seafood (fish and shellfish), lean meat, and poultry without skin (turkey and chicken). Examples of lean meats include pork leg, shoulder, or tenderloin, and beef round, sirloin, tenderloin, and extra lean ground beef. Other protein foods include eggs and egg substitutes, beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds.
- Choose low-fat dairy products such as skim or 1% milk or low-fat yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese.
Foods to limit:
- Vegetables with added fat such as French fries, or vegetables with cream sauces or topped with cheese
- Fruit with added sugar such as canned fruit in heavy syrup or frozen fruit with added sugar
- Carbohydrates high in fat and sugar such as cookies, donuts, croissants, store-bought muffins, or other high-fat breads
- Protein foods with added fat such as fried meats, seafood, or poultry, or those served with high-fat gravies and sauces
- High-fat protein foods such as t-bone steaks, ribs, chicken or turkey with skin, hot dogs, and sausage
- High-fat dairy products such as cream cheese, regular hard cheeses, regular and premium ice cream, or whole and 2% milk
- Unhealthy fats such as butter, hard margarine, and shortening
- Choose and prepare foods with less salt and added sugars. Use the nutrition information on food labels to help you make healthy choices. The percent daily value listed on the food label tells you whether a food is low or high in certain nutrients. A percent daily value of 5% or less means that the food is low in a nutrient. A percent daily value of 20% or more means that the food is high in a nutrient.
- Get enough fiber by regularly eating foods high in fiber. Good sources include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and peas.
- Limit foods high in unhealthy fats such as cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat. Foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat include hamburger, bacon, chicken or turkey skin, whole milk, and butter. Foods high in trans fat include packaged foods such as potato chips and cookies. It is also found in hard margarine, some fried foods, and shortening.
- Limit alcohol. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.