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Healthy Eating: Changing Your Eating Habits

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The food you eat can affect your health and your risk for certain diseases. To eat healthier food, you may need to change some of your daily habits. You also may need to change some things in your environment. Your environment includes everything around you, like your home or the place you work.

You don't need to make huge changes to eat healthier. And you don't have to change your habits all at the same time. It's best to set small goals and change your habits a little bit at a time. Over time, small changes can make a big difference in your health.

This information will help you make useful changes for healthy eating.

  • Changing your eating habits and your environment can help you eat healthier foods.
  • A healthy diet is good for your overall health. It also can help you reach a healthy weight and stay there.
  • To improve your eating habits, it's best to make small lifestyle changes that you can keep doing over time.

Every day you make choices about what you eat and how much you eat. Think about how your daily routine and your environment affect these choices. Do you tend to skip meals when you get busy? Do you eat out a lot?

Habits like these can trigger unhealthy eating. But there are things you can do to avoid unhealthy eating.

  • Plan your meals. Write out a menu for several days at a time, and then make a grocery list for that menu. Post your menu on the refrigerator.
  • When you can, double a healthy recipe and freeze part of it to use for meals on busy nights.
  • Choose convenience foods wisely. Get prewashed salad mix, peeled baby carrots, or frozen vegetables that you can microwave quickly.
  • Keep plenty of healthy snack foods on hand, such as fresh fruits, cut-up vegetables, yogurt, and whole-grain crackers.
  • Plan your meals and snacks so you eat healthy foods, rather than waiting until you are hungry and grabbing something at the convenience store.
  • Try not to snack while watching TV, working at the computer, driving, or making meals. You may end up eating when you aren't hungry. Plan your meals and healthy snacks ahead of time, and stay with your plan.

Eating out

  • When you eat out, try to choose something healthy. Find restaurants that have heart-healthy items marked on their menus, and choose these items when possible. If you eat fast food, order the smallest burger, such as the child-sized, instead of a double or triple burger. Find places that let you choose healthy sides like fruit, salad, or milk instead of french fries and soft drinks.
  • Eat smaller portions at restaurants by sharing a meal or taking some food home. Restaurants often give you much larger portions than you need.
  • If you order fast foods, find ways to make these foods into a meal. For example, when you order a pizza, eat it at home with a salad, milk, and fruit.

Test Your Knowledge

Whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy, vegetables, and fruits are healthy foods to include in your meals.


Eating healthy foods is good for your overall health. With a healthy diet, your body can get the nutrients it needs to stay strong and work well. And you lower your risk for high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and other health problems.

A healthy diet is important no matter what size you are. You can improve your health by eating foods that are good for you no matter what you weigh.

Test Your Knowledge

The main benefit to healthy eating is looking thin.


To eat a healthy diet, you may need to make some changes. Remember that you can change your eating habits a little bit at a time. Small changes are easier to make and can lead to better health.

Here are some ways to make healthy changes in your eating habits:

  • Keep more fruits, low-fat dairy products (low-fat milk and low-fat yogurt), vegetables, and whole-grain foods at home and at work. Focus on adding healthy food to your diet, rather than just taking unhealthy foods away.
  • Try to eat a family meal every day at the kitchen or dining table. This will help you focus on eating healthy meals.
  • Buy a healthy-recipe book, and cook for yourself. Chew gum when you cook so you won't be tempted to snack on the ingredients.
  • Pack a healthy lunch and snacks for work. This lets you have more control over what you eat.
  • Put your snacks on a plate instead of eating from the package. This helps you control how much you eat.
  • Don't skip or delay meals, and be sure to schedule your snacks. If you ignore your feelings of hunger, you may end up eating too much or choosing an unhealthy snack. If you often feel too hungry, it can cause you to focus a lot on food.
  • Eat your meals with others when you can. Relax and enjoy your meals, and don't eat too fast. Try to make healthy eating a pleasure, not a chore.
  • Drink water instead of high-sugar drinks (including high-sugar juice drinks).

Test Your Knowledge

Skipping or delaying a meal can lead to eating too much.


Now that you have read this information, you are ready to make changes for healthy eating.

For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating.

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ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Last RevisedJanuary 25, 2013

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