Michael P. Hirsh, M.D.
Though many view healthy eating as a list of foods to avoid, it is important to focus on foods to seek out and enjoy. Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. People who eat greater amounts of fruits and vegetables are at lower risk for chronic diseases and cancer. They also provide a meal or snack with fewer calories and fat, but more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Most people should try to eat two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables each day. One cup includes:
It is easy to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your regular meals. Add extra vegetables to a sandwich instead of cheese or meat, incorporate them into an omelet in place of more eggs, or add vegetables to pasta to provide a more filling, nutritious meal. Attend local farmers markets to find fresh produce in season and learn about vegetables and fruits you may have never tried.
To eliminate extra sources of sugar and calories in your diet, try to grab healthy beverage options to stay hydrated and healthy. Sodas and sugary drinks contain many calories and almost no nutritional value. Drinking them in excess can also lead to diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Instead of soda, try drinking seltzer, flavored water, or 100% fruit juice. Look at labels to determine which beverages contain large amounts of sugar. Avoid ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, dextrose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, sucrose, molasses, syrup, or cane sugar.
When eating out, it is easy to eat a lot of less nutritious food, as restaurants serve larger portions than necessary. To avoid eating too much or wasting the extra food, try eating half of the meal and taking the other half home to eat for lunch the next day. Ask to see the nutrition facts for your meal and avoid meals with many calories. Ask for meals with fewer toppings and sauces to avoid adding extra calories, fats, and sugars to your meal.