Healthy Eating - HelpGuide.org (2023)

healthy eating

Confused by all the conflicting nutrition advice out there? These simple tips can show you how to plan, enjoy, and stick to a healthy diet.

Healthy Eating - HelpGuide.org (1)

What is a healthy diet?

Eating a healthy diet is not about strict limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health, and boosting your mood.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If you feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there, you’re not alone. It seems that for every expert who tells you a certain food is good for you, you’ll find another saying exactly the opposite. The truth is that while some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood, it’s your overall dietary pattern that is most important. The cornerstone of a healthy diet should be to replace processed food with real food whenever possible. Eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it can make a huge difference to the way you think, look, and feel.

By using these simple tips, you can cut through the confusion and learn how to create—and stick to—a tasty, varied, and nutritious diet that is as good for your mind as it is for your body.

The fundamentals of healthy eating

While some extreme diets may suggest otherwise, we all need a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in our diets to sustain a healthy body. You don't need to eliminate certain categories of food from your diet, but rather select the healthiest options from each category.

Protein gives you the energy to get up and go—and keep going—while also supporting mood and cognitive function. Too much protein can be harmful to people with kidney disease, but the latest research suggests that many of us need more high-quality protein, especially as we age. That doesn't mean you have to eat more animal products—a variety of plant-based sources of protein each day can ensure your body gets all the essential protein it needs. Learn more »

Fat. Not all fat is the same. While bad fats can wreck your diet and increase your risk of certain diseases, good fats protect your brain and heart. In fact, healthy fats—such as omega-3s—are vital to your physical and emotional health. Including more healthy fat in your diet can help improve your mood, boost your well-being, and even trim your waistline. Learn more »

Fiber. Eating foods high in dietary fiber (grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans) can help you stay regular and lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also improve your skin and even help you to lose weight. Learn more »

Calcium. As well as leading to osteoporosis, not getting enough calcium in your diet can also contribute to anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties. Whatever your age or gender, it's vital to include calcium-rich foods in your diet, limit those that deplete calcium, and get enough magnesium and vitamins D and K to help calcium do its job. Learn more »

Carbohydrates are one of your body's main sources of energy. But most should come from complex, unrefined carbs (vegetables, whole grains, fruit) rather than sugars and refined carbs. Cutting back on white bread, pastries, starches, and sugar can prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar, fluctuations in mood and energy, and a build-up of fat, especially around your waistline. Learn more »

Making the switch to a healthy diet

Switching to a healthy diet doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition. You don't have to be perfect, you don't have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy, and you don't have to change everything all at once—that usually only leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan.

A better approach is to make a few small changes at a time. Keeping your goals modest can help you achieve more in the long term without feeling deprived or overwhelmed by a major diet overhaul. Think of planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps—like adding a salad to your diet once a day. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices.

Speak to a Therapist Now

With over 25,000 licensed counselors, BetterHelp has a therapist that fits your needs. Sign up today and get matched.

GET 20% OFF

Get professional online counseling for relationship or marital issues. It’s confidential, convenient, and easy to get started.

(Video) Not known Facts About Healthy Eating - HelpGuide.org

GET 20% OFF

(Video) Getting The Healthy Eating - HelpGuide.org To Work

Advertiser Disclosure

Setting yourself up for success

To set yourself up for success, try to keep things simple. Eating a healthier diet doesn't have to be complicated. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories, for example, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. Focus on avoiding packaged and processed foods and opting for more fresh ingredients whenever possible.

Prepare more of your own meals. Cooking more meals at home can help you take charge of what you're eating and better monitor exactly what goes into your food. You'll eat fewer calories and avoid the chemical additives, added sugar, and unhealthy fats of packaged and takeout foods that can leave you feeling tired, bloated, and irritable, and exacerbate symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety.

Make the right changes. When cutting back on unhealthy foods in your diet, it's important to replace them with healthy alternatives. Replacing dangerous trans fats with healthy fats (such as switching fried chicken for grilled salmon) will make a positive difference to your health. Switching animal fats for refined carbohydrates, though (such as switching your breakfast bacon for a donut), won't lower your risk for heart disease or improve your mood.

Read the labels. It's important to be aware of what's in your food as manufacturers often hide large amounts of sugar or unhealthy fats in packaged food, even food claiming to be healthy.

Focus on how you feel after eating. This will help foster healthy new habits and tastes. The healthier the food you eat, the better you'll feel after a meal. The more junk food you eat, the more likely you are to feel uncomfortable, nauseous, or drained of energy.

Drink plenty of water. Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many of us go through life dehydrated—causing tiredness, low energy, and headaches. It's common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices.

Moderation: important to any healthy diet

What is moderation? In essence, it means eating only as much food as your body needs. You should feel satisfied at the end of a meal, but not stuffed. For many of us, moderation means eating less than we do now. But it doesn't mean eliminating the foods you love. Eating bacon for breakfast once a week, for example, could be considered moderation if you follow it with a healthy lunch and dinner—but not if you follow it with a box of donuts and a sausage pizza.

Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods, it's natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. Start by reducing portion sizes of unhealthy foods and not eating them as often. As you reduce your intake of unhealthy foods, you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.

Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and don't order supersized anything. At home, visual cues can help with portion sizes. Your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards and half a cup of mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of a traditional light bulb. By serving your meals on smaller plates or in bowls, you can trick your brain into thinking it's a larger portion. If you don't feel satisfied at the end of a meal, add more leafy greens or round off the meal with fruit.

Take your time. It's important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down in between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly and stop eating before you feel full.

(Video) Healthy Eating Habits

Eat with others whenever possible. Eating alone, especially in front of the TV or computer, often leads to mindless overeating.

Limit snack foods in the home. Be careful about the foods you keep at hand. It's more challenging to eat in moderation if you have unhealthy snacks and treats at the ready. Instead, surround yourself with healthy choices and when you're ready to reward yourself with a special treat, go out and get it then.

Control emotional eating. We don't always eat just to satisfy hunger. Many of us also turn to food to relieve stress or cope with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, loneliness, or boredom. But by learning healthier ways to manage stress and emotions, you can regain control over the food you eat and your feelings.

It's not just what you eat, but when you eat

Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, while eating small, healthy meals keeps your energy up all day.

Avoid eating late at night. Try to eat dinner earlier and fast for 14-16 hours until breakfast the next morning. Studies suggest that eating only when you're most active and giving your digestive system a long break each day may help to regulate weight.

ADVERTISEMENT

Add more fruit and vegetables to your diet

Fruit and vegetables are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Focus on eating the recommended daily amount of at least five servings of fruit and vegetables and it will naturally fill you up and help you cut back on unhealthy foods. A serving is half a cup of raw fruit or veg or a small apple or banana, for example. Most of us need to double the amount we currently eat.

To increase your intake:

  • Add antioxidant-rich berries to your favorite breakfast cereal
  • Eat a medley of sweet fruit—oranges, mangos, pineapple, grapes—for dessert
  • Swap your usual rice or pasta side dish for a colorful salad
  • Instead of eating processed snack foods, snack on vegetables such as carrots, snow peas, or cherry tomatoes along with a spicy hummus dip or peanut butter

How to make vegetables tasty

While plain salads and steamed veggies can quickly become bland, there are plenty of ways to add taste to your vegetable dishes.

Add color. Not only do brighter, deeper colored vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but they can vary the flavor and make meals more visually appealing. Add color using fresh or sundried tomatoes, glazed carrots or beets, roasted red cabbage wedges, yellow squash, or sweet, colorful peppers.

Liven up salad greens. Branch out beyond lettuce. Kale, arugula, spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are all packed with nutrients. To add flavor to your salad greens, try drizzling with olive oil, adding a spicy dressing, or sprinkling with almond slices, chickpeas, a little bacon, parmesan, or goat cheese.

(Video) Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight- Complete HelpGuide for Beginners

Satisfy your sweet tooth. Naturally sweet vegetables—such as carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, bell peppers, and squash—add sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for added sugar. Add them to soups, stews, or pasta sauces for a satisfying sweet kick.

Cook green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus in new ways. Instead of boiling or steaming these healthy sides, try grilling, roasting, or pan frying them with chili flakes, garlic, shallots, mushrooms, or onion. Or marinate in tangy lemon or lime before cooking.

Authors: Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal Ph.D., and Robert Segal, M.A.

    Around the web

    Last updated: October 21, 2022

    FAQs

    What foods should seniors avoid? ›

    Here are eight foods that you should cut down on (or avoid eating altogether) as you get older, and why:
    • Raw or undercooked eggs, meat and poultry. ...
    • Grapefruit. ...
    • High-sodium foods. ...
    • Caffeine. ...
    • Sodas and sugary drinks. ...
    • “Sugar-free” drinks. ...
    • Alcoholic beverages. ...
    • Foods with empty calories.
    24 Jul 2022

    What food is good for old age? ›

    What to eat
    • fruit and vegetables.
    • potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods.
    • dairy and alternatives.
    • beans, pulses, fish, eggs and other proteins.
    • oils and spreads.

    What should a 50 year old woman eat? ›

    Try foods such as skinless chicken, fatty fish like salmon (with omega-3 fats), and vegetable protein, including soy. Enjoy a vegetarian meal a few times a week. Plant-based diets have lots of advantages. They're low in calories but rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

    What is the healthiest breakfast to eat? ›

    The 12 Best Foods to Eat in the Morning
    1. Eggs. Eggs make a simple, nutritious breakfast choice. ...
    2. Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is a great option if you're looking for a quick breakfast. ...
    3. Coffee. Aside from water, coffee is the world's most popular beverage. ...
    4. Oatmeal. ...
    5. Chia seeds. ...
    6. Berries. ...
    7. Cottage cheese. ...
    8. Whole wheat toast.

    What fruit is best for elderly? ›

    Seniors should eat plenty of citrus fruits to obtain enough vitamin C in their day. Vitamin C is known to produce antibodies, which boost immunity and help older adults fight off infections. Some examples of vitamin C rich foods are oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, tangerines, grapefruit, and strawberries.

    How many eggs should seniors eat a day? ›

    The American Heart Association recommends up to one egg a day for most people, fewer for people with high blood cholesterol, especially those with diabetes or who are at risk for heart failure, and up to two eggs a day for older people with normal cholesterol levels and who eat a healthy diet.

    Is it normal for an 80 year old to be tired? ›

    ABSTRACT: Fatigue is a common symptom in elderly persons, but it is often ignored as many patients and healthcare providers assume it is a natural progression of aging or may mistake it for somnolence, dyspnea, or muscle weakness.

    How much sleep does a 65 year old need? ›

    Sleep and Aging

    Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as all adults—7 to 9 hours each night. But, older people tend to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier than they did when they were younger. There are many reasons why older people may not get enough sleep at night.

    What should I eat after age 70? ›

    Older adults' unique nutrition needs

    Choose foods with little to no added sugar, saturated fats, and sodium. To get enough protein throughout the day and maintain muscle, try adding seafood, dairy, or fortified soy products along with beans, peas, and lentils to your meals.

    What is the number 1 superfood? ›

    The 10 Best Superfoods
    • Garlic. It may not be the best compliment to a conversation but it's certainly the perfect compliment to many recipes, like this garlic risotto. ...
    • Blueberries. ...
    • Broccoli. ...
    • Oats. ...
    • Eggs. ...
    • Spinach. ...
    • Cocoa nibs. ...
    • Salmon.

    How do you get rid of belly fat after 50? ›

    Trimming the fat
    1. Eat a healthy diet. Focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. ...
    2. Replace sugary beverages. ...
    3. Keep portion sizes in check. ...
    4. Include physical activity in your daily routine.

    Are bananas good for anti aging? ›

    Loaded with magnesium and other heart-healthy nutrients, bananas are among the best anti-aging fruits. They hydrate the cells, which have a firming effect on them, and ultimately on your skin too.

    Which fruit is best for empty stomach in morning? ›

    Empty stomach in the morning

    Some of the best fruits to eat first thing in the morning are watermelon, papayas, guavas, mangoes, pomegranates, and bananas.

    What is the healthiest snack? ›

    Some examples include:
    • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • Frozen fruit.
    • Fruits canned in water or their own juice.
    • Whole grain bread, crackers and cereals.
    • Lower fat yogurt.
    • Lower fat cheese.
    • Unsalted nuts and seeds and their butters.
    • Hummus.
    1 Mar 2021

    How often should seniors bathe? ›

    At a minimum, bathing once or twice a week helps most seniors avoid skin breakdown and infections. Using warm washcloths to wipe armpits, groin, genitals, feet, and any skin folds also helps minimize body odor in between full baths. However, some dementia caregivers say it's actually easier to bathe every day.

    What kind of milk should seniors drink? ›

    Which type of milk is best for the elderly? Low-fat or non-fat milk is a good source of vitamin D and other nutrients. The elderly may drink fresh milk, but those who have lactose-related intolerance may choose lactose-free versions.

    Which nuts are best for the elderly? ›

    Yes, they're small, but tree nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, and pistachios have big anti-aging powers. These crunchy snacks contain special nutrients that can help delay or prevent age-related heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, nerve disease, and some types of cancer.

    Are hard boiled eggs good for seniors? ›

    Eggs are an inexpensive, widely available and easily digestible source of high-quality protein and contain a significant proportion of leucine, an amino acid that is important for muscle synthesis, as well as many other nutrients of significance for older people, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

    What form of egg is healthiest? ›

    The bottom line

    Overall, shorter and lower-heat cooking methods cause less cholesterol oxidation and help retain most of the egg's nutrients. For this reason, poached and boiled (either hard or soft) eggs may be the healthiest to eat. These cooking methods also don't add any unnecessary calories.

    › Blog ›

    Healthy foods are a very important part of maintaining optimal health but did you know that there are many “healthy” foods that seniors shouldn't be eating?

    Healthy Eating for Seniors

    https://www.healthline.com › health › healthy-eating-for-s...
    https://www.healthline.com › health › healthy-eating-for-s...
    As you get older, your nutritional needs, appetite, and food habits can change. Learn how to maintain a healthy diet as you age.
    The Eatwell guide is used to show the different types of foods commonly eaten and the proportions that are recommended to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. No s...

    What is the type of food the elderly should avoid most Why? ›

    Foods Seniors Should Avoid In Summary

    Raw eggs, fish, undercooked meat, unpasteurized dairy, and juice can all increase the risk for foodborne illness in the elderly. Sushi and deli meats may also raise concerns about food safety and also for higher sodium levels.

    Are eggs good for seniors to eat? ›

    Should Older Adults Be Consuming Eggs? Due to the variety of nutrients found in eggs, they are an ideal food to include in the diets of older adults. They are also economical, easily prepared and soft in texture which makes them appropriate for people of this age group.

    Is egg good for old age? ›

    Eggs are an inexpensive, widely available and easily digestible source of high-quality protein and contain a significant proportion of leucine, an amino acid that is important for muscle synthesis, as well as many other nutrients of significance for older people, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

    Is peanut butter good for elderly? ›

    Peanut butter provides beneficial fats, magnesium, and proteins that offer seniors a sustained energy supply throughout the day. Peanut butter is also high in vitamin E and B6, which are beneficial for brain health and antioxidants, which may help prevent blood clots and vascular damage.

    What is the number 1 vegetable to avoid? ›

    Nightshade vegetables, like peppers, potatoes, and eggplant, are are controversial, because many claim they can cause inflammation, according to Cynthia Sass, a registered dietician. This can lead to some pretty serious complications down the line: heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, to name a few.

    Why do seniors nap so much? ›

    Compared with younger adults, the elderly spend more time in bed but have deterioration in both the quality and quantity of sleep. All of these changes can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, which in turn can lead to intentional and unintentional napping.

    What is the best diet for a 70 year old woman? ›

    Older adults' unique nutrition needs

    Choose foods with little to no added sugar, saturated fats, and sodium. To get enough protein throughout the day and maintain muscle, try adding seafood, dairy, or fortified soy products along with beans, peas, and lentils to your meals.

    Is popcorn good for seniors? ›

    Air-popped popcorn

    When it's not slathered in movie-theater butter, popcorn can be a healthy treat. As a whole grain, popcorn contains plenty of healthy fiber that can help you feel full. Popcorn is also full of the antioxidant polyphenol, which is associated with healthy hearts and a reduced risk of cancer.

    Is oatmeal good for seniors? ›

    Oatmeal is an excellent breakfast food for seniors because it is fairly inexpensive, easy to chew, easy to prepare, nutrient dense and high in fiber. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse reports that low-fiber diets are a main cause of constipation in older adults.

    What yogurt is good for elderly? ›

    Enter Greek yogurt, which is a great high-protein snack for seniors eating less meat. One thing to watch out for with Greek yogurt is the high sugar content of the flavored varieties. Opting for plain Greek yogurt would be the healthiest choice, and you can stir in fresh fruit or granola.

    How do I lose weight after 70? ›

    The golden rules of weight loss still apply: Burn more calories than you eat or drink. Eat more veggies, fruits, whole grains, fish, beans, and low-fat or fat-free dairy; and keep meat and poultry lean. Limit empty calories, like sugars and foods with little or no nutritional value.

    How can I stay healthy after age 65? ›

    Stay Connected
    1. Get moving: Exercise and physical activity.
    2. Healthy eating: Make smart food choices.
    3. Getting a good night's sleep.
    4. Quit smoking.
    5. Alcohol and other substances.
    6. Go to the doctor regularly.
    7. Social isolation and loneliness.
    8. Stress.

    Is yogurt good for seniors? ›

    Yogurt may be an important source of protein and calcium in the elderly that could potentially lead to enhancement in bone and muscle health.

    How much water should an elderly person drink a day? ›

    How much water do you need to stay hydrated? As a general rule, you should take one-third of your body weight and drink that number of ounces in fluids. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim to drink 50 ounces of water each day.

    What multivitamin is best for seniors? ›

    5 Top Choices: Best Multivitamin for Seniors
    1. Thorne Research Women's Multi 50+ While this multivitamin is a bit more on the expensive side, it's offered by one of the most reputable dietary supplements brands in the country. ...
    2. Equate Complete 50+ ...
    3. CVS Health Spectravite Adult 50+ ...
    4. Member's Mark 50+ ...
    5. One a Day Women's 50+

    How many steps should a 80 year old woman do a day? ›

    Many experts agree that the recommended steps per day for seniors is 7,000-10,000. People who live with a disability or chronic illness can still benefit from an active lifestyle, and depending on individual abilities may strive for 5,500 steps per day.

    Videos

    1. Circadian Rhythm and Your Brain's Clock
    (SciShow)
    2. HealthWorks! Healthy Living Series: Tips for Eating Out | Cincinnati Children's
    (Cincinnati Children's)
    3. Making Healthy Food Choices with a Healthy Plate
    (Veterans Health Administration)
    4. How Do Portion Sizes Impact Health?
    (Healthy Eating)
    5. Healthy Eating on a Budget
    (UHN Patient Education)
    6. A basic guide to food portions and building a healthy diet
    (MedStudent PreventativeHealthVideoSeries)
    Top Articles
    Latest Posts
    Article information

    Author: Pres. Lawanda Wiegand

    Last Updated: 02/20/2023

    Views: 5539

    Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

    Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

    Author information

    Name: Pres. Lawanda Wiegand

    Birthday: 1993-01-10

    Address: Suite 391 6963 Ullrich Shore, Bellefort, WI 01350-7893

    Phone: +6806610432415

    Job: Dynamic Manufacturing Assistant

    Hobby: amateur radio, Taekwondo, Wood carving, Parkour, Skateboarding, Running, Rafting

    Introduction: My name is Pres. Lawanda Wiegand, I am a inquisitive, helpful, glamorous, cheerful, open, clever, innocent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.