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Shape up your diet with a few tweaks

I find dietary recommendations overwhelming. Are there some simple things I can to do eat healthy?

Updated: 2020-07-16

Answer Section

Yes there are some simple ways to improve your diet. In fact, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advocates moving away from complicated dietary recommendations toward a healthier overall eating pattern.

Reshaping what you eat starts with this simple premise: Plant foods should make up the majority of your meals — and thus your grocery list.

Eat vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy, along with small amounts of fish and seafood, poultry, lean meat, healthy oils, and nuts. At the same time, exercise restraint when it comes to highly processed foods that contain added sugars, salt and saturated fat.

For some, reshaping what you eat may require a few more specifics. Are your current meals mainly meat and processed starches? If so, try these alternatives:

  • Breakfast. Instead of eggs and bacon, have one soft-cooked egg over spicy black beans. Add sliced fruit on the side. Instead of refined or processed sugary cereal and whole milk in the morning, try oatmeal topped with fruit.
  • Lunch. Instead of a white-bread ham sandwich, chips and a soda, switch the bread to whole grain and the salty ham to lean chicken breast, and top with slices of avocado, lettuce and tomato. Complete your lunch with a piece of fruit and sparkling water. Another alternative might be to have vegetable soup, whole-grain crackers, a piece of fruit and iced green tea (unsweetened).
  • Dinner. Eating on the run? Bypass the pepperoni pizza and instead go to the grocery store salad bar and top salad greens with lentils, kidney beans and tofu — and other fresh veggies and fruit. Dress the salad at home with olive oil and rice wine or balsamic vinegar.
  • Snacks. Think fruit and nut combinations, such as banana with freshly chopped peanuts or trail mix with dried cranberries. For something different, try fresh berries mixed into plain low-fat yogurt and lightly frozen.