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What Is Considered Healthy Eating?

author image Nancy Clarke
Nancy Clarke began writing in 1988 after achieving her Bachelor of Arts in English and has edited books on medicine, diet, senior care and other health topics. Her related affiliations include work for the American Medical Association and Oregon Health Plan.
What Is Considered Healthy Eating?
A tabouleh salad with vegetables and parsley. Photo Credit: Anna_Shepulova/iStock/Getty Images

A healthy eating plan involves both what you do eat and what you choose to exclude from your diet. It also must include a regular eating pattern of appropriate portions. If you are considering improving your health and nutritional profile, strive mainly for a steady, moderate intake of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. All of this falls into place when you use good eating habits to follow a balanced diet.

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Reasonable Portions and Calories

Eating patterns that help you maintain an appropriate weight are considered healthy, because they reduce your risk for serious illness, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Reasonable servings of food help you build toward, not exceed, your daily nutritional and calorie totals. If you eat too much and you can’t burn off that many calories, you’ll gain weight. The FDA prints suggested serving sizes on food labels, based on an average 2,000-calorie diet.

Beneficial Nutrient Intake

Your body needs dozens of essential nutrients every day, and healthy diets are those that accrue 100 percent daily values, or DVs, of the beneficial nutrients every day. The USDA recommends choosing different foods from every food group on a rotating basis, to receive the full range of nutrients in the vegetable, fruit, grain, dairy and protein groups. Food labels display content percentages per suggested serving to help you recognize healthy amounts of calcium and other minerals, dietary fiber and vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K.

Detrimental Nutrient Balance

While you need to consume more of those beneficial nutrients to eat healthy, you also need to get less fat, especially saturated and trans fat, sodium, cholesterol and sugar. Limiting these nutrients while getting enough of the major essentials is what creates a balanced diet. By choosing foods with a lower content of detrimental fats, sodium, cholesterol and sugar, you’ll automatically get more of the good stuff. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish and beans in place of meat to reduce saturated fat intake, and replacing sweetened carbonated sodas with low-fat or nonfat milk for better nutrition.

Good Eating Habits

Your body expends energy continuously, so it only makes sense to give it a steady supply of calories and nutrients. Fatty and salty snack foods may satisfy your hunger, but not your nutritional needs, placing a strain on your metabolism. The National Institutes of Health advises setting a three-meal-a day schedule and grabbing a healthy snack when you need a boost. Even out your calorie intake over the day as well, rather than eating a super high-calorie meal that may make you surpass calorie boundaries at other meals.

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