By choosing the right foods in the right amounts, you can reap rewards that will benefit you in all aspects of your life.
: Never change your diet without first consulting your physician.
Step 1: Learn basics of nutrition Learn the basics of nutrition, using the USDA Food Guide Pyramid. It describes the five basic food groups, serving sizes, and the recommended number of daily servings for each.
TIP: The USDA’s web site provides an individualized food plan, based on age, weight, height, and gender.
Step 2: Eat fruits and vegetables Eat three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruit daily. Aim for fresh produce, and avoid canned products with sodium or sugar.
Step 3: Eat variety of whole grain products Eat a variety of whole grain products, from six to 11 servings a day. Choose complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, or cereal that has at least three grams of fiber per serving.
Step 4: Eat low-fat protein Eat two to three servings of low-fat protein. The best sources are lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, egg whites, tofu, and nuts and seeds.
TIP: Trim the fat from meat, remove the skin and fat from poultry, and broil or bake instead of frying. Limit the amount of nuts and seeds, which have a high level of fat.
Step 5: Eat low-fat dairy products Eat two to three servings of low-fat dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Step 6: Minimize use of fats and oil Use small amounts of healthy fats and oils such as olive, canola, and safflower.
TIP: Fish, flax seed, walnuts, and other nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy for your heart.
Step 7: Avoid sugar and limit simple carbs Avoid products sweetened with sugar and limit your consumption of simple carbs, such as white bread, pasta, and white rice, which have low levels of fiber.
FACT: Food manufacturers introduced about 10,000 new food and drink products in 2002 alone.