Many people think of healthy eating as an all or nothing proposition, but a key foundation for any healthy diet is moderation. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderation as eating the right amount of calories for you based on your age, gender, and physical activity level.
In other words, it’s not just what you eat that’s important, but how much.
The good news is that no matter what your current weight, making small changes in your diet can make a big difference to your heart health.
- Eat a variety of foods in the right proportions. Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Try to choose lean proteins like poultry, fish and beans instead of red meat. Switch out full-fat dairy products for low-fat or fat-free ones. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.
- Eat vegetables and fruit. Pick vegetables and fruit over other less healthy foods such as biscuits, crisps, pastries, chocolate or other sweets. You can eat up to 800g a day – that’s about five large handfuls of vegetables and five pieces of fruit, although this will depend on your size. Different types of fruit, such as fresh, canned, dried and juiced all count towards your total.
- Choose whole grains over refined grains whenever possible. Look for the word “whole” on the package and among the first few items in the ingredient list—whole wheat flour, whole oats or whole grain corn are good examples of whole grains. Go for brown rice instead of white rice and choose whole grain breads instead of white breads or those made with refined flour.
- Eat foods high in fiber: Fiber helps fill you up without adding calories. Common sources of fiber include whole grains, fruits and vegetables. In particular, apples and pears contain pectin, a type of fiber that can limit how much fat your cells absorb.
- Drink water before meals: Drinking water before a meal can help you feel fuller sooner so that you eat less during the meal. But be careful not to overdo it — drinking too much water during a meal may actually make it harder for your body to digest food properly.