In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person. The word diet often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management reasons (with the two often being related). Although humans are omnivores, i.e. we eat food of both plant and animal origin, each culture and each person holds some food preferences or some food taboos. This may be due to personal tastes or ethical reasons.
General recommendations for a healthy diet
Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and a limited amount of red meat. Get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Tips for achieving this goal include:
- Make fruits and vegetables part of every meal. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Frozen or canned can be used when fresh isn’t convenient.
- Eat vegetables as snacks.
- Have a bowl of fruit out all the time for kids to take snacks from.
- Put fruit on your cereal.
- Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains (like 100 percent whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain cereal), replacing refined grains (like white bread, white rice, refined or sweetened cereals).
- Choose smaller portions and eat more slowly.
Cut down on unhealthy fats (trans fats and saturated fats) and consume more healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat). Tips for achieving this goal include:
- Choose chicken, fish, and beans instead of red meat and cheese.
- Cook with oils that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, like corn, olive, and peanut oil.
- Choose margarines that do not have partially hydrogenated oils. Soft margarines (especially squeeze margarines) have less trans fatty acids than stick margarines.
- Eat fewer baked goods that are store-made and contain partially hydrogenated fats (like many types of crackers, cookies, and cupcakes).
- When eating at fast food restaurants, choose healthy items for yourself as well as your family, like broiled chicken or salad.
- If choosing prepared or processed foods, choose those labeled “zero trans fat.” They may still have some trans fat but likely less than similar choices not labeled “zero.”
Avoid sugary drinks and excessive alcohol intake. Tips for achieving this goal include:
- Choose non-sweetened and non-alcoholic beverages, like water, at meals and parties.
- Avoid occasions centered around alcohol.
- Avoid making sugary drinks and alcohol an essential part of family gatherings.