Learn why healthy eating is important for adults.

Why healthy eating matters

Good nutrition is important at every age. Healthy eating can:

  • help you feel good
  • provide energy and essential nutrients to maintain health
  • help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes

Many people think healthy eating is challenging because:

  • buying healthy foods can be costly
  • they are surrounded by a variety of food choices
  • it can be hard to find the time to prepare healthy meals
  • there are conflicting messages that make it confusing to know what foods are best to eat

You can overcome these challenges to healthy eating by forming new healthy eating habits.

Healthy eating habits

Adopting healthy eating habits can help you conquer these barriers and make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Choose vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods that you enjoy

Every day, choose a variety of:

  • vegetables and fruit, including:
    • dark green vegetables such as kale and bok choy each day
    • orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potato most days
  • whole grain foods, such as:
    • oats
    • wild rice
    • whole wheat pasta
  • protein foods such as:
    • eggs
    • nuts and seeds
    • fish and shellfish
    • beans, peas, and lentils
    • lean red meats, including wild game
    • lower fat dairy products such as milk and yogurt
    • fortified soy beverages, tofu, soybeans and other soy products

Eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to help get the nutrients you need. Since vitamin D is found in very few foods, eat foods containing vitamin D or take a supplement with 400 IU (10 µg) of vitamin D every day.

If you could become pregnant, you should take a multivitamin with 400 µg (0.4 mg) of folic acid each day. Multivitamins may also contain vitamin D. 

Make healthy drink choices

Making healthy drink choices is as important as your food choices.

Make water your drink of choice.

Healthy drink options other than water can include:

  • white milk (unsweetened lower fat milk)
  • unsweetened fortified plant-based beverages

Plan meals and snacks

Getting healthy meals on the table in a hurry takes less time than you might think. It’s all about being prepared.

You can follow healthy eating recommendations to help you plan what you eat to:

  • plan your meals and make a grocery list to ensure you have the ingredients in your kitchen to cook meals quickly
  • prepare some foods in advance and keep them in the freezer, including:
    • stews
    • soups
    • cooked rice
    • pizza dough
    • pasta dishes
    • cooked lean ground turkey

Create a healthy eating environment

You can choose healthy foods by creating a healthy eating environment wherever you are. You can do this by:

  • using food labels to help you make an informed choice
  • cooking in double batches so you can save leftovers for quick meals
  • having easy-to-grab, ready-to-eat snacks like vegetables or fruits:
    • at work
    • in the fridge
    • on the counter
  • keeping a jug of water in the fridge or on the table, or carrying a reusable water bottle with you

Make healthy food choices

Try using some of these ideas to help you make healthier food choices:

  • eat vegetables and fruits at each meal and snack
  • use beans, lentils and other legumes several times a week
  • inform yourself when you are eating out by asking about the nutrition information
  • skip the cookies, bakery products, chips and other salty snack foods and sugary drinks
  • enjoy natural, unprocessed vegetables and fruits instead of highly processed foods such as bakery products or vegetable chips
    • these may contain some vegetables and fruits but also have extra sodium, sugars or saturated fat

Be mindful

Use the healthy eating recommendation to be mindful of your eating habits by:

  • putting healthy snacks in places where they are visible
  • planning ahead so you are not negatively influenced by the food environment
  • turning off your TV, phones and other electronic devices while you are eating
  • switching up your routine so you don’t pass by coffee shops or vending machines, or aren’t influenced by other non-hunger cues

Make a healthy choice

What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.

  • Choose foods that have little to no added sodium, sugars or saturated fat.
  • Compare the nutrition facts table on foods to choose products that are lower in sodium, sugars or saturated fat.