Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us

5 Steps for Eating Healthier

Changing the way you eat can improve your health. It can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and help you stay at a healthy weight. Your diet doesn’t have to be bland and boring to be healthy. Just watch your calories and follow these steps:

Broiled salmon with herbs on bed of edamame.

Step 1. Eat fewer unhealthy fats

  • Choose more fish and lean meats instead of fatty cuts of meat.

  • Skip butter and lard, and use less margarine. Replace these with healthier fats, such as olive, canola, or avocado oils.

  • Pass on foods that have palm, coconut, or partially hydrogenated oils.

  • Eat fewer high-fat dairy foods like cheese, ice cream, and whole milk.

  • Get a heart-healthy cookbook and try some new recipes.

Step 2. Go light on salt

  • Keep the saltshaker off the table.

  • Limit high-salt ingredients, such as soy sauce, bouillon, and garlic salt.

  • Instead of adding salt when cooking, season your food with herbs, spices, and other flavorings. Try lemon, garlic, onion, vinegar, or salt-free herb seasonings.

  • Limit convenience foods, such as boxed or canned foods and restaurant food.

  • Read food labels and choose lower-sodium options. Buy fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables that don't have added salt.

Step 3. Limit sugar

  • Pause before you add sugars to pancakes, cereal, coffee, or tea. This includes white and brown table sugar, syrup, honey, and molasses. Cut your usual amount by half.

  • Swap out sugar-filled soda and other drinks. Buy sugar-free or low-calorie beverages. Remember, water is always the best choice. Try adding lemon juice to water for extra flavor.

  • Read labels and choose foods with less added sugar. Keep in mind that dairy foods and foods with fruit will have some natural sugar.

  • Cut the sugar in recipes by 1/3 to 1/2. Boost the flavor with extracts like almond, vanilla, or orange. Or add spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg.

Step 4. Eat more fiber

  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Boost your diet with whole grains. Go for oats, whole-grain rice, and bran.

  • Add beans and lentils to your meals.

  • Drink more water to match your fiber increase to help prevent constipation.

Step 5. Pay attention to serving sizes

  • Remember that a serving size is a standard measurement. It will let you track the amount of fat, calories, and other nutrients in the food you eat.

  • Read the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods to learn their serving sizes.

  • Use serving sizes to assess how much food you put on your plate. Pay attention to your portions. How many servings are you eating?

  • Keep in mind that your needs may change if you’re more active or less active, or if you have other factors that change your calorie needs.

  • Use your hand to help you measure serving sizes. For example:

    • 1 teaspoon: This is about the size of the first joint of your thumb.

    • 1 tablespoon: This is about the size of the first 2 joints of your thumb.

    • 1 ounce: This is about what you can fit in your cupped hand.

    • 2 to 3 ounces: This is about the size of the palm of your hand.

    • ½ cup: This is also about what you can fit in your cupped hand.

    • 1 cup: This is about the size of your fist.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CD CDE
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2022
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
The health content and information on this site is made possible through the generous support of the Haspel Education Fund.
StayWell Disclaimer