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Nutrition and Heart Health

These Are the Foods That Should Be on Your Plate

Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN

National Spokesperson, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Eating healthfully and building good physical activity habits can be difficult for people looking to lose pounds quickly with minimal effort. But fad diets, which often require food restrictions, pills, or potions, are not healthful, long-term lifestyle options.

Be kind to your body: Adopting a healthful eating style and participating in physical activities most days of the week are the keys to a long-term healthful lifestyle. There are no magic pills or potions that will alter your body’s genetic code to melt fat as you sleep. In fact, some ingredients in weight-loss supplements or herbal combinations can be dangerous.

Beware of the diet plan

Diets that impose food restrictions can leave you with vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Severely limiting or excluding certain types of foods, such as carbohydrates, can leave you sluggish, irritable, and constipated. And diets that tell you to eat unlimited amounts of specific foods can quickly become boring.

Meanwhile, rapid weight loss can contribute to decreased muscle mass and bone density. Then, people who lose weight quickly often gain back the weight, and even more, just as quickly.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends setting realistic weight loss goals that can be met with healthful eating habits and physical activity, along with strategies to support lifestyle changes. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you create a weight loss plan that is individualized to meet your goals.


Healthful Lifestyle Tips:

  • Review your eating habits. Are your portions too big, are you regularly consuming high-calorie foods and drinks, or are you skipping meals or overeating for emotional reasons? Are you at risk of developing an eating disorder? Look within yourself to pinpoint what might be holding you back from reaching your goals.
  • Identify and change the habits that are impeding your weight loss goals. Change one habit at a time by replacing it with a healthier choice. Make sure your goals are realistic and attainable.
  • Incorporate healthful eating and physical activity habits into your lifestyle. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, 25 percent of your plate with grains and 25 percent with protein foods; then complete the meal by including a serving of milk, yogurt, or a non-dairy alternative such as soy milk. Swap white breads and pastas with whole grain versions, which can help you feel full longer. Limit added sugars and solid fats. Grill or bake your foods rather than frying.
  • Get moving! Adults should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, including at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ physical activity guidelines.

Visit the Academy’s online Find an Expert service to find a registered dietitian nutritionist to help you create a personalized plan tailored to your lifestyle, food preferences and goals.

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