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How can I eat healthier?

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.

how can I eat healthier?Below are some helpful tips from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans on how you can start eating healthier.

Healthy eating tip #1: Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods

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:

  • Instead of deep frying, try grilling, baking or sauteing.
  • Use vegetable oils – such as olive, peanut or sunflower oil – instead of butter or lard.
  • Try adding fresh garlic, lemon juice, dried or fresh herbs, and spices without added salt to jazz up your meals.

Healthy eating tip #2: Eat a variety of options from each food group

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:

  • Vegetables: dark green vegetables, red and orange veggies, as well as beans, lentils, etc.
  • Fruits: fresh, frozen or canned fruits with no added sugar
  • Grains: half of your daily grains should be whole grains, which are rich in fiber
  • Dairy: fat-free or low-fat yogurt, milk or cheese
  • Proteins: lean meats, poultry, fish and plant-based proteins, such as beans, lentils and nuts
  • Oils: vegetable oils and oils from food (e.g., avocados, fish and nuts)

Healthy eating tip #3: Limit foods and beverages high in sugars, saturated fat and sodium

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:

  • Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars
  • Less than 10% of your daily calories should include saturated fat
  • The amount of sodium you consume should be less than 2,300 mg per day
  • When drinking alcohol, men should limit their intake to two or less drinks a day and women should limit their intake to one or less drinks a day

How to eat healthy without cooking

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.

Talk to your doctor

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.

Download the Blue Cross of Idaho member app in the App Store or Google Play.


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