Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight

Meal preparation

An eating plan that helps manage your weight includes a variety of healthy foods. Add an array of colors to your plate and think of it as eating the rainbow. Dark, leafy greens, oranges, and tomatoes—even fresh herbs—are loaded with vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Adding frozen peppers, broccoli, or onions to stews and omelets gives them a quick and convenient boost of color and nutrients.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020external icon, a healthy eating plan:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
  • Stays within your daily calorie needs

Fruit

Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits are great choices. Try fruits beyond apples and bananas such as mango, pineapple or kiwi fruit. When fresh fruit is not in season, try a frozen, canned, or dried variety. Be aware that dried and canned fruit may contain added sugars or syrups. Choose canned varieties of fruit packed in water or in its own juice.

Meal prep containers with broccoli, carrots, rice or soba noodles

Vegetables

Add variety to grilled or steamed vegetables with an herb such as rosemary. You can also sauté (panfry) vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish—just microwave and serve. Look for canned vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces. For variety, try a new vegetable each week.

Calcium-rich foods

In addition to fat-free and low-fat milk, consider low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars. These come in a variety of flavors and can be a great dessert substitute.

Meats

If your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations by baking or grilling. Maybe even try dry beans in place of meats. Ask friends and search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ― you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish!

Comfort Foods

photo of 2 variations of macaroni and cheese, one with 540 calories and one with 315 calories

Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods, even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while and balancing them with healthier foods and more physical activity.

Some general tips for comfort foods:

  • Eat them less often. If you normally eat these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month.
  • Eat smaller amounts. If your favorite higher-calorie food is a chocolate bar, have a smaller size or only half a bar.
  • Try a lower-calorie version. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare food differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe includes whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with non-fat milk, less butter, low-fat cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes. Just remember to not increase your portion size.

Want to learn more?

Healthy Eating Tips
Start eating healthier with these simple tips.

Good Nutrition Starts Early
Introduce kids to healthy foods with these ideas.

Improving Your Eating Habits
Learn more about how to start changing your eating habits.

Planning Meals
Stock up on healthier foods that contain fewer calories to help prepare you for weight-loss success!

Cutting Calories
Find out how to cut calories for your meals, snacks, and even beverages.

Healthy Recipes
Links to healthy recipes with calorie counts and nutritional information.

Eat More Weigh Less
Manage your weight without being hungry.

Get Enough Sleep
Regulate your appetite with adequate sleep.