How can I start eating healthier?

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Eating healthy requires planning. Make a grocery list and keep your refrigerator and cupboards stocked with healthy foods. Be creative, and prepare meals at home to include a greater variety of healthy foods with less added fat, sugar and sodium. Choose nutrient dense whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, proteins including lean meat, poultry, fish, nuts, legumes, beans, soy or dairy. Drink unsweetened or fruit infused tea, coffee or water instead of sweetened beverages. Make one small change to your diet, and then gradually add another to develop into daily nutritious eating habits.

Alberta Scruggs
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Eating healthier may be easier than you think if you take "one healthy habit at a time".

First, it's wise to learn what your body needs to obtain/maintain health. For example, the daily dietary fiber recommendation for females is 25 grams per day and 38 grams per day for males. Ask yourself if the foods you eat help you meet this recommendation. If they do, move on to another dietary recommendation such as drinking at least eight-eight ounce (64 ounces), water each day. If you are not meeting the fiber recommendation, begin eating more foods with adequate amounts of fiber to get your daily requirements.

Once you become comfortable with this dietary change, move on to another and make it a habit. Your diet should mimic the 2010 Dietary or MyPlate Recommendations. Some healthy dietary habits are:

  • Choosing low-fat meat/dairy foods
  • Choosing 3 to 5 servings of veggies each day
  • Choosing 2 to 4 servings of fruit each day
  • Making half of grain choices whole grains
  • Limiting intake of foods with added sugar
Dr. Vinayak A. Manohar, MD
Interventional Cardiologist

To have a healthier diet it's a lot easier to add foods to your diet than it is to take away foods from your diet. So instead of taking food out of the fridge, try adding a few foods into the fridge. Add a few healthier choices, some things you can put on your plate before reaching for the ice cream and chips. Choose a couple of colors from the rainbow in terms of fruits and vegetables. A healthier diet tends to have balanced portions of fruits, vegetables, some meats, some dairy, a little bit of fats and oils, and whole grains.

Dr. Judi Hollis
Health Education Specialist

You've heard it many times before, but eating healthier truly requires a lifestyle change. In this video, Dr. Judi Hollis explains how you can incorporate lifelong changes by taking one day at a time.

If you buy it, you will eventually eat it. Good nutrition happens in the supermarket, not in the kitchen. Eat a good meal before you shop and make a list of all the healthy stuff you want to buy before you head out the door. Guess what? You will be thinner next year.

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Take two slices of whole wheat bread, which contain iron, and add strawberries—rich in vitamin C—and peanut butter. The vitamin C helps to convert the insoluble iron to soluble iron, making this sandwich a fatigue fighter. The peanut butter supplies muscle building protein and satiating healthy fats.

Drink several cups of green tea, which contains catechins, credited with speeding up metabolism, daily. Squeeze in lemon, lime or orange juice to flavor it a bit; the added vitamin C enhances absorption of the catechins.

Eat broccoli regularly and you will benefit from its cancer-fighting compounds. Dip it into a spicy mustard or wasabi, and you will double those cancer-fighting powers. The spicy condiment helps broccoli release sulphorofane, a proven cancer-fighting compound.

Dr. Ramani Durvasula, PhD
Psychology Specialist

Feed yourself as if you were your own child. When you make unhealthy choices, think about whether that is how you would feed someone you really care about. You are a finely tuned machine, so treat yourself as such. If you had a really expensive car that needed expensive gas, you would probably take the time and money to fill it properly so that it would run better, so why would you treat yourself any differently?

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Quick tips to help you eat healthily include planning the day's menu in advance, grocery shopping from a list and/or after you've eaten, and reading food labels.

You should also monitor your portion sizes and add appropriate nutrition to your plate. A healthy meal starts with more vegetables and fruits and smaller portions of protein and grains. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate site teaches about healthy eating on a budget and nutrition during pregnancy, and it even offers games to help kids understand healthy eating.

And remember: Out of site, out of mind. Minimize or stop buying foods that aren't part of a specific meal or snack you've planned. This will keep you from munching on problem foods that could deter your diet. Bottom line: keep healthy foods available so you can maximize the experience of eating satisfying and nourishing foods that are good for you and make you feel great about what you have eaten instead of feeling guilty about it.

This content originally appeared on StoneCrest Family Physicians Blog.

Dr. Joy Dubost, PhD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

As a registered dietitian, its my job to assist you in developing a healthier lifestyle. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for healthy Americans ages 2 and older provide some practical tips. Below are a few key messages from the Guidelines.

  • Watch portion sizes. A serving size looks like the following:

3 oz of meat = deck of cards; 1 baked potato = computer mouse; 1 dinner roll = yo-yo; 1 cup cereal = baseball; 1 cup pasta = tennis ball; 1 cup salad = baseball; 1 oz cheese = ping pong ball

  • Incorporate more fruits and vegetables onto your plate. The usual intake for veggies is about 59% and 42% for fruit. Clearly we could be doing better so add some color to your diet. Fill ½ your plate with fruits and veggies.
  • Watch out for solid fats and added sugar. A few examples of foods that provide solid fats include full-fat dairy based desserts or whole milk, butter, and lard. Added sugar can be found in products such as candy, regular soda, grain based desserts, and fruit drinks.
  • Consume less salt. Try cooking with spices and herbs to kick up the flavor.
  • Enjoy more seafood in your diet. Try baked, broiled, and grilled dark fish, such as salmon.
  • Make 1/2 your grains whole grains. This includes brown rice, oatmeal, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, quinoa, sorghum, popcorn, and any food with the word "whole" such as whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta.
  • Move more and keep moving! Recommendations are for 2.5-5 hours of moderately intense exercise or 1.5-5 hours of vigorous exercise per week.

Consulting with a registered dietitian can assist you in incorporating these tips from the Dietary Guidelines. You can visit for more information.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

First, avoid simple sugars and syrups. Saturated fats and trans fats are other ones to avoid. Finally, stay clear of enriched, bleached, or refined non-100 percent whole grain flour. Those three words mean that the flour has been stripped of its nutrients. All of these in excess can contribute to obesity and lead to other long term health risks. Always choose 100 percent whole grains instead.

And the ideal is to eat those healthy foods in balance: a little protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbs at each of your meals. Lean proteins include chicken, turkey, fish (great for those omega-3 fatty acids). Healthy fats (you need at least 30 to 50 grams worth a day) include olives, natural peanut butter, olive oil, hummus, and many other Mediterranean-style foods. Healthy carbs that can also get you needed fiber include things cooked with chia seeds and whole grain flour, anything whole grain, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and don’t forget your fruits and veggies.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.