What makes up a healthy diet?


Good nutrition is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle. When combined with regular physical activity, a healthy, balanced diet can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, and improve overall health and wellness.

But what does good nutrition actually look like? If you want to eat a more nutritious diet, this is what a typical day of eating should include.

Eat the right foods
A balanced diet should consist of the following:

  • Protein: fish, chicken, red meat, dairy products, eggs, nuts and beans
  • Healthy fats: soft or liquid margarine, avocados, ground flaxseed, nuts and oils
  • Carbohydrates: fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes
  • Vitamins: A, B, C, D, E and K
  • Minerals: calcium, potassium, zinc, folate, magnesium and iron
  • Water: essential for hydration, calorie control, skin and muscle health, kidney and bowel function

To learn the best foods to help you get essential vitamins and minerals, click here.

Minimize sugar intake
Avoid processed snack foods and drinks with sugar added. Sugar won’t hurt you in small amounts, but the modern American diet is filled with foods packed with added sugar, which can lead to obesity and increase risk for serious diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Eat the right portions
When serving yourself a meal, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and split the other half between whole grains and lean protein. If you’re trying to lose weight, your daily calorie expenditure must be greater than your daily calorie intake, so determine how many calories you should get per day and stick to your calorie “budget.” Balance a high-calorie food or meal with low-calorie foods the next meal or the next day.

Read the labels
While it’s best to eat whole foods (foods closest to their natural state, such as fresh produce and healthy meats), be sure to read the labels on any packaged foods to help you keep track of serving size, calories per serving and how much saturated and trans fat, sodium and sugar you’re eating.

Eat at the right time of day: When you eat can have an effect on metabolic regulation, weight and sleep cycle. It’s important to try to eat at the same time every day to maintain a healthy weight long-term.

Follow this general schedule for your meals:

  • Breakfast at 8:00 a.m.
  • Lunch at noon
  • Healthy snack at 3:00 p.m.
  • Light dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Avoid snacking at night: People who eat after 8:00 p.m. are more likely to weigh more than those who don’t. This is partly due to the fact that night owls tend to eat more fast food, drink more soda, eat fewer fruits and vegetables and eat larger portions of food later in the day.

Could you use some help revamping your eating habits to improve your overall health? Ask your primary care physician to refer you to our team of nutrition experts at Goshen Hospital, or give us a call at (574) 364-2679 to learn more about our Nutrition Therapy services.