Eating right is important to staying at a healthy weight and keeping an energy balance—the balance between the calories in what you eat and drink, and calories you burn when moving.
The same amount of ENERGY IN (calories consumed) and ENERGY OUT
(calories burned) over time = weight stays the same
More IN than OUT over time = weight gain
More OUT than IN over time = weight loss
The best way to make sure you have energy balance is to make better choices before you or your family sit down to eat. Make sure to:
- Choose foods that are lower in fat and have fewer calories
- Shop "smart" at the grocery store. Learn to read the Nutrition Facts Label on packaged foods. Choose healthy foods more often.
- Use the GO, SLOW, and WHOA foods chart (136 KB) to learn which foods are better for you.
- GO foods are good for you; eat them just about anytime
- SLOW foods should be eaten in smaller amounts
- WHOA foods should only be eaten rarely, or on special occasions
- Show your family the GO, SLOW, and WHOA chart called U R What U Eat (2.3 MB). Help them understand how to make good choices.
- Review dietary guidelines
- Check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov. The information on this website comes from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture every five years. The guidelines can help you make healthy choices that can reduce your chances of getting some diseases, like heart disease and diabetes.
- Look at some healthy eating plans. The USDA Food Patterns and the DASH Eating Plan can help you figure out how much of each food group (for example, fruits, vegetables, grains, meats) you should eat each day.
- Cook smart
- Read about some easy ways to cook foods that can help you make recipes healthier by lowering the calories. They'll be better for you and will still taste great.
- Eat smaller portions
- In many cases, the amount of food that appears on your plate when eating out has nearly doubled over the past 20 years. And that has affected the way we look at and serve food at home, too. Learn more about what we call "portion distortion" and about the difference between a portion and a serving.
- Make better choices when you eat out
- Eat smaller portions and try to find items on the menu that are lower in fat and added sugar. And don't forget you can always ask for healthier options if you don't see them on the menu.
- Know your calories
- Remember that whether calories come from a soda, sweet potato, or steak, they're still calories. And calories do count for adults and children. Read more about calories from fat and sugar.