Nutrition: A Healthy Diet is a Balancing Act


Eating a variety of foods from all the food groups will help keep your body “in line!”

  • Whole grains – our bodies need at least 3 servings of whole grains per day. This includes: oatmeal, 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice, barley, and wheat or bran cereal.
  • Fruits/Vegetables – our bodies need at least 2-3 servings of each per day. A serving of a fruit or vegetable is only 1/2 cup, so this goal will be an easy one to achieve! Try fruit for a snack or dessert, and add extra vegetables to your salads, casseroles, or soups.
  • Dairy – our bodies need at least 4 servings of dairy each day to keep our bone density at an optimal level. This includes: milk, cheese, yogurt, and soy milk.
  • Lean Meat, Poultry & Fish – our bodies only need 6-8 oz of these foods per day. That is the size of 2 decks of cards. Remember you can also fulfill these servings with heart healthy options such as beans, nuts, nut butters, and tofu.

Substitutions to keep your diet in equilibrium…

  1. Eat baked chips or pretzels for a salty snack instead of regular chips, which are fried in fatty oils.
  2. Choose rice cakes, animal crackers, or low-fat kettle corn for a sweet treat instead of cookies.
  3. Choose frozen fruit bars, low-fat fudge bars, or sherbert instead of ice cream.
  4. Use low fat or fat-free condiments in place of salad dressing, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and sour cream.

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Eating Out & Staying Healthy: Easy tips to ensure your meal out is healthy and full of flavor

  • Choose foods that are baked, broiled, or grilled. Foods are likely to be very high in fat and calories when they are fried, sautéed, or pan seared.
  • Select fruit or a salad as an appetizer.
  • Ask for a low-fat or fat-free dressing for your salad and have it “on the side.” Fresh lemon, vinegar, or salsa also make a flavorful salad dressing.
  • Request steamed vegetables, with no added butter, margarine, or salt. If necessary you can add your own in smaller amounts at the table.
  • Be aware that casseroles, stews, breaded foods, pastas with white sauces, and those foods covered in gravy also may be very high in fat and sodium.

Essential Nutrients for Aging Gracefully

    • WATER must be replaced everyday because the human body is unable to store water. You should drink no less than 6 cups of fluids everyday!
      Tip: to figure out how much water you need, multiply 0.06 by your weight in pounds. For example, 0.06 x 130lbs = 7.8 cups
    • CALCIUM Adequate calcium intake is essential to prevent the breakdown of calcium stores in your bones. Adults ages 50 and above need 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. If you cannot drink milk, then choose canned salmon, kale, collard/turnip greens, or soy products and juices fortified with calcium.

      Tip: to assess the milligrams of calcium in a serving of food, add a zero to the % daily value on the nutrition label.


  • FIBER This is the part of the plant that your body cannot digest. It helps food move through your digestive tract and has been shown to decrease cholesterol and risk for some cancers! Adults need 25-30 grams of fiber per day. High fiber foods include most fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains.

Budgeting for Healthy Eating


  • When you purchase bread, keep it in the freezer to increase its shelf life.
  • Look for sales on bulk or family packs of lean meat and then freeze (or re-freeze) them in portions you will use.
  • Buy cereals that have 3 or more grams of fiber per serving rather than cereals with a lot of sugar. Purchasing generic cereals high in fiber can spare your health and your pocket book!
  • Add extra frozen or fresh vegetables to pastas or rice dishes instead of meat.

Eat Lots of Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables
What are powerhouse fruits and vegetables?

  • Dark green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and citrus fruits that provide powerful disease protection.
    These vegetables are associated with the most disease risk reduction and they appear to afford protection across many diseases: some cancers, heart disease and stroke and eye diseases.
  • Current goals for the nation are to eat:
    • One dark green leafy vegetable daily (broccoli, spinach, greens)
    • Cruciferous vegetables several times a week (cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage) Fun Fact: Cruciferous vegetables get their name for the “cross” located on the stem of the vegetable.
    • Orange fruits and vegetables at least 4 times a week (cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potato, acorn, butternut squash).
  • These colorful fruits and vegetables identify powerhouses of protective properties like vitamin A, beta-carotene, and Vitamin C. So pick your fruits and vegetables by their colors and by the company they keep!