Eat Wisely - National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
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Eat Wisely

Eat wisely to enhance your health.

 

What's Important to Know?

Eating wisely helps prevent chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes. It is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce the onset of disease. The keys to improving health through nutrition are to:

  1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern that is right for you.
  2. Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
  3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within appropriate calorie limits. The core elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern include:
    • Vegetables of all types - dark green, red, and orange in color as well as legumes (beans, peas, and lentils)
    • Fruits, especially whole fresh fruits - but they may be canned or frozen too
    • Grains, at least half of which are high fiber whole-grains
    • Dairy - fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, and/or lactose-free versions and fortified soy beverages and yogurt as alternatives
    • An assortment of protein foods - lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; legumes (beans, peas, lentils); and nuts, seeds, and soy products
    • Oils - vegetable oils and oils in food, such as seafood and nuts
  4. Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages. Examples include:
    • Added sugars - Consume less than 10% of your daily calories from added sugars, which are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. Naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruit or milk, are not added sugars.
    • Saturated fat - Consume less than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fats and avoid trans-fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, full-fat dairy products, meats not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.
    • Sodium - Limit to no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Choose foods with little added salt and prepare foods without salt when possible. Adults who have high blood pressure (pre-hypertension and hypertension) may benefit from limiting to 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
    • Alcoholic beverages - Adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women and people over age 64. Drinking less is better for health than drinking more. In addition, there are people such as children, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions who should not drink any alcohol.
  5. Maintain or strive for a healthy weight. To do so:
    • Balance the calories from foods and beverages with the calories burned through physical activity. To lose weight, most people need to both reduce the number of calories consumed and increase their physical activity. For weight loss of 1-1.5 pounds per week, daily intake should be reduced by 500-750 calories. Eating patterns that contain 1,200 to 1,500 calories each day can help most women lose weight safely. For men, eating patterns that contain 1,500 to 1,800 calories each day are suitable for safe weight loss.

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Want to Know More?

If you want to learn more about how to eat wisely, talk with your VA health care team. They can also help if you have questions about making a healthy living change.

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Resources

Find videos on reading food labels, measuring food portions, and planning meals.

View fact sheets and a video that inspire eating wisely.

Check out nutrition information by topic, recipes and cookbooks, and resources for food insecurity.

Take the MyPlate Quiz to find out if you’re making every bite count and discover personalized resources to eat healthy. Access recipes and cooking videos at https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen to help you build healthy, budget-friendly meals.




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Non-federal Government Resources:

Find videos on reading food labels, measuring food portions, and planning meals.

(Links to non-Federal organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. Links do not constitute an endorsement of any organization by NCP or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred.)

Find tips about selecting healthier foods, cooking budget-friendly meals, and incorporating global cuisines.

Make every bite count with simple tips that set you on a path to healthy eating.