Top 20 Healthy Eating Tips

By Rebecca K. Kirby, M.D., M.S., R.D.

You are what you eat. Consider these top 20 healthy eating tips.

Number 20 is chew your food. Don’t forget to masticate; breaking up the food into smaller particles helps those digestive enzymes have more surface area to work on.

19. Get some exercise or activity daily. Thought this was about diet? Well, it is. How are those nutrients from the foods going to get to the proper tissues without good circulation?

18. Drink more water. Six to 8 glasses a day minimum; tea and coffee don’t count. When you are tired, reach for a glass of water instead of a candy bar to revive and hydrate yourself.

17. Eat less sweets. There is no food value in sugar, just empty calories. Sugary desserts and snacks are usually made with refined grains and fats. A diet heavy with sugary foods can promote inflammation, not to mention unwanted pounds.

16. Make every calorie- count; eat whole foods. Select your food choices from nature. Don’t waste your daily intake on refined and processed foods.

15. Try a new food every month. Variety is helpful in avoiding food sensitivities and capturing more nutrients. Have you tried buckwheat, quinoa, persimmons, pomegranates, spaghetti squash, or beet greens?

14. Go organic when you can. Not only are scientists still identifying health-giving nutrients in foods, but new discoveries demonstrate that organically grown foods may have cancer-fighting compounds produced by the plant to ward off pests.

13. Eat some beneficial bacteria every day. Our gastrointestinal system relies on beneficial bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium to stay healthy and ward off allergens and disease promoting organisms. Fermented foods and cultured dairy products (like yogurt) have a number of good bacteria.

12. Eat fish a couple of times a week. The good fats in fish are good not only for the heart but also the brain, the skin, the joints, and more. Rediscover sardines!

11. Eat more beans. Beans are packed with fiber, protein, and carbohydrates that won’t send your blood sugar soaring. Try red, brown, black, navy, white, garbanzo, and lima beans; plus lentils, black-eyed peas, and any new ones you might come across.

10. Go meatless for a week. Beans can be a staple in the diet because combined with a grain (com, wheat, or rice) you have a meat-equivalent protein. Also, incorporate eggs, cheese, and soy into your vegetarian menu.

9. Eat some nuts or seeds everyday. Try pumpkin seeds and shelled, unroasted sunflower seeds or ground flaxseed for a new taste treat. Carry a baggie of nuts (and seeds) with you for a quick snack instead of a granola bar.

8. Eat whole fruits. Skip the juice and eat the fruit for more nutrients, fiber, protein, and better blood sugar control.

7. Go for 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Ten or more servings a day have been shown to lower blood pressure.

6. Eat more color. Scientists are discovering the colorful pigments (photo chemicals) in fruits, vegetables, and beans have important health-building and disease-fighting properties. For example, blueberries are good for the brain.

5. Speaking of phytochemicals, take a break during your day and enjoy a cup of tea (green, black, or herbal).

4. Include a yellow/orange/pink or red vegetable and fruit every day. For example, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, com, apricots, watermelon, pink grapefruit, peaches, raspberries, or oranges, to name a few.

3. Put plenty of other green in the diet with avocados, broccoli, celery, cabbage, brussels sprouts, peppers, asparagus, green peas, and green beans.

2. Eat at home. Cook, sit down with family or friends, and enjoy a meal together (turn off the television).

And the number one health tip which you have heard me say many times – Eat a dark green leafy vegetable a day, such as turnip, mustard, collard, or other greens; spinach; swiss chard; kale; and the many dark green lettuces!