According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), poor nutrition is a leading cause of illness in the U.S. Additionally, about 600,000 Americans die from diet-related diseases each year. Eating healthy is a simple step you can take to improve your health and lower your risk of developing some diseases.
Below are some helpful tips from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans on how you can start eating healthier.
Try to get the most out of your food by eating nutrient-dense foods, rich in vitamins and minerals – which are most potent when they come from food. Additionally, pay attention to how these foods are prepared, which can have a big impact on how healthy they are.
Here are a few healthy cooking techniques to help you get started:
Well-balanced diets include a variety of foods across all food groups. Personalize your meals to match your favorite flavors, cultural traditions and budget.
Here are some of the essential foods that make up a healthy diet:
Limit foods that have a lot of saturated fat, sugars and sodium. A well-balanced diet will help you meet most of your daily caloric and sodium needs, so anything extra should be carefully considered. Additionally, avoid alcohol or limit how much you drink.
Here are the recommended daily amounts for these substances:
If you don’t have a lot of time to cook, or even if you don’t like cooking very often, you can still find ways to eat healthy by using the tips above. Grocery stores and meal-delivery services offer a wide variety of pre-made meals that can be low in sodium, added sugars and saturated fats that are delicious and rich in nutrients. Make sure you pay attention to the nutrition labels and serving sizes.
And if you’re not eating at home, you can still make your meals healthier. If you’re at a fast food restaurant, opt for a chicken or turkey burger instead of beef, and maybe see if they have side options that are healthier than fries. When you go to the restaurant, try to avoid fried foods and opt for grilled options. If you want to indulge by getting a dessert, consider splitting it.
When making any big changes to your diet, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Your doctor knows the total picture of your health and may be able to recommend changes to your diet that can help you manage any conditions you have or lower your risk of disease.
Blue Cross of Idaho members can search for a primary care provider by logging in to their member account on our member website or in the Blue Cross of Idaho member app and selecting Find Care.
Written by: Aly Sparks, a registered dietitian at Blue Cross of Idaho. Aly has a master’s degree in public health nutrition and a Bachelor of Science in culinary nutrition. With her extensive experience in clinical nutrition counseling, she helps teach others how to stay healthy with delicious food and proper nutrition.
Posted: March 8, 2023
Updated: November 13, 2023