A healthy, balanced diet gives your body nutrients. Nutrients are like fuel for your body. They give you energy. And they keep your heart beating, your brain active, and your muscles working. They also help to build and strengthen bones, muscles, and other body tissues.
Your body needs three major nutrients for energy. These are carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
- Carbohydrate provides energy for your brain, muscles, heart, and lungs. It is found in bread, cereal, rice, pasta, fruits, vegetables, milk, yogurt, and sugar.
- Protein provides energy and helps build and repair your body’s cells. It is found in meat, poultry, fish, cooked dry beans, cheese, tofu and other soy products, nuts and seeds, and milk and milk products.
- Fat provides energy, helps build the covering around nerves in your body, and helps make hormones. Fat is found in butter, margarine, oil, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and nuts. It is also found in most foods that come from animals, such as meat and milk products. Many foods also have fat added to them.
Your body needs all three of these nutrients to be healthy. If you choose a good mix of foods, you can help your body get the right amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It can also keep you at a healthy weight.
Eat a balanced diet
- Try to eat a variety of healthy foods every day. These include:
◦ 5 to 8 ounces of bread, cereal, crackers, rice, or pasta. An ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cereal, or pasta. Choose whole-grain products for at least half of your grain servings.
◦ 2 to 3 cups of vegetables. Be sure to include:
▪ Dark green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.
▪ Orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
◦ 1½ to 2 cups of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit. A large banana, a large orange, or a small apple equals 1 cup.
◦ 3 cups of nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, or other milk products.
◦ 5 to 6½ ounces of protein foods. These include chicken, fish, lean meat, beans, nuts, and seeds. One egg equals 1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish. A ½ cup of cooked beans equals 2 ounces of protein.
Stay fueled all-day
- Start your day with breakfast. If you don’t have time to sit down for a bowl of cereal in the morning, try something that you can eat “on the go.” Try a piece of whole wheat bread with peanut butter or a container of yogurt with frozen berries mixed in.
- Eat regularly scheduled meals and snacks. If you miss a meal, you may overeat at the next meal. Or you may choose a less healthy snack.
- Drink enough water. (If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase your fluid intake.)