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Teaching Nutrition: Background information about nutrition, the nutrients, and healthy eating habits
Tips for Healthy Living

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Being healthy is more than just avoiding disease. The following tips can help you set a path for a truly healthy life.

The "How to Live It" Section gives specific examples of changes you can make in your own life to put these helpful hints into practice.



Healthy Living Tip
How to Live It
Reduce fat consumption, especially saturated fat consumption.   Read food labels carefully; foods which list fats or oils high on the ingredient list may contain a large proportion of fat, by weight. Bake, broil, braise, grill, or steam foods – avoid deep-fat frying. Use herbs, spices, and citrus juice to flavor foods. Choose lower fat condiments such as salad dressings and sandwich spreads. Remove skin from poultry and trim visible fat from meats. Use vegetable protein sources such as soy products, lentils, dried beans and peas. Consume low-fat and nonfat dairy products. Avoid foods which are high in saturated fat such as high-fat meat products, butter and lard, cakes and pastries, high-fat cheeses, cream products (sour cream, ice cream, whipped cream), coconut and palm oils (usually used to pop movie-theater popcorn).
Lower refined sugar consumption.   Carbohydrates are an important source of energy, but there are more and less healthy carbohydrate sources. Complex carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains are the better choice, providing energy along with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Simple sugars, such as those found in soft drinks, cookies, and candies, provide energy but few other nutrients. Sometimes it is difficult to determine if a product has a lot of sugar because manufacturers may call sweeteners by different names. All of the following terms are synonyms for “sugar”: corn syrup, corn sweeteners, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, fruit sugar, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar (glucose and fructose), levulose, maple sugar, molasses, natural sweetener, and raw sugar.
Maintain naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals in foods.   Vitamins, especially water-soluble vitamins, can be lost from foods prior to being consumed. To increase the percentage of vitamins that you can derive from your food: Include raw fruits and vegetables in your menu planning. Refrigerate products, especially leftovers, to slow nutrient loss. Rinse foods in cold water – but do not soak them. Chop fruits and vegetables immediately before cooking; chop only as finely as is necessary. Avoid overcooking; prolonged exposure to heat causes the loss of some vitamins.
Focus on balance, variety, and moderation.   Choose a balanced diet. Eat foods from all five major food groups – grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy/milk, meats and beans – each day. Each group provides different essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Within each food group, choose a wide variety of foods. Eat a spectrum of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, try different types of whole grains, and try new types of lean protein and dairy sources. Eating a variety of foods can help you avoid the pitfall of over-consuming any one type of food.   Eat a spectrum of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, try different types of whole grains, and try new types of lean protein and dairy sources. eating a varietyof foods can help you avoid the pitfall of over-consuming any one type of food.
Consume all foods in moderation.   Television and print advertisers, restaurants and other food providers often provide images of platter-sized plates filled to the brim with food. These are not realistic images of healthy portion sizes. Review images and statistics on actual serving sizes by exploring the different food groups at Try using smaller plates and utensils. Ask at restaurants that half of the meal be put directly into a take-home container. Avoid “all you can eat” restaurants. Share an entrée with a friend.
Be physically active.   Many Americans live a sedentary (inactive) lifestyle. Levels of physical activity tend to decrease with age. Physical activity and exercise positively impact the body in a number of ways providing mental, physical, and social benefits. Physical activity has been shown to reduce levels of stress, anxiety, and depression and increase quality of life. Exercise helps you live a longer and healthier life by maintaining and increasing muscle tone, strengthening heart, lungs, and joints, and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. Regular physical activity has been linked to increases in positive social behaviors in children including reducing rates of smoking and drug use and increasing chances of academic success. It is recommended that Americans engage in one hour of physical activity per day.
Make meals memorable.   Eat more slowly, chewing carefully. Savor your food. Avoid distractions, such as television, during meals. Sit at a table rather than eating meals while standing, driving, or on the run. Maintain a pleasant atmosphere during meals and steer conversations to positive topics.


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