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Eat Right

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The BIG 4 Focus

Feel your best so you can tackle your goals in 2021 while you improve the BIG 4 in your life – nutrition, activity, sleep, and stress.

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Healthy Meals at Home

Build healthy meals with what is already in your pantry, fridge, and freezer using these practical ideas.

Five Ways to Boost Your Nutrition

DITCH THE YO-YO DIETS

Fad diets are rarely effective for long term weight loss. In fact, “dieters” are far more likely to experience additional weight gain in the future. Instead of trying the latest trendy diet, shift your actions to adopt a healthier lifestyle overall. Aim for progress, not perfection for sustainable success. Focus on adding healthier items (like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, high fiber foods, and more water) instead of depriving yourself. If you strive for health, weight loss is likely to follow and you will probably feel a lot better than if you continued a path of yo-yo dieting.

Source: When Dieting Doesn’t Work

PRIORITIZE PROTEIN

Eating enough protein is important for good health. Protein is very satiating, meaning it helps keep you fuller longer and adequate protein intake has been shown to reduce cravings helping you eat less overall. The amount of protein you need depends on your age, sex, and physical activity level. A good rule of thumb is to include a protein source at every meal. For example, have a serving of unsweetened Greek yogurt with breakfast, tofu with lunch, hard boiled eggs for a snack, and salmon for dinner.

Sources: When Dieting Doesn’t Work / Protein Intake: How Much Should You Eat per Day

YOUR MOM WAS RIGHT! EAT YOUR VEGGIES AND FRUIT

Nearly 90% of Idahoans do not eat the daily minimum recommendation for vegetables and many of us are not eating enough fruit either. Vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, ease digestive problems, and positively impact blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check. The good news is that all produce counts, which means canned, fresh and frozen varieties can help you reach your goal. If you think you do not like vegetables that just means you have not tried hard enough. There are hundreds of different types of vegetables and preparation methods, so the options are virtually endless! Try roasting vegetables for better flavor and texture, blending spinach into a fruit smoothie, or adding vegetables to foods you already love (like fresh peppers and mushrooms on homemade pizza). Keep trying and tasting new things until you find something you like.

Sources: Vegetables and Fruit / How to Eat More Fruit and Vegetables

FOCUS ON FIBER

Dietary fiber is a nutritional superstar that most of us do not get enough of! Fiber is the part of plant foods that the body cannot break down. It passes through the body undigested, keeping your digestive system clean and healthy and flushing cholesterol and harmful materials out of the body. It also helps keep you full and can aid in weight loss. Researchers have found that consuming 25-29 grams of fiber a day is ideal. For reference, a medium pear contains about six grams of fiber and half a cup of black beans has about eight grams. Focus on getting in those fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes to make sure you are getting enough.

Sources: High Fiber Foods / Why is Fiber Good for You? The Crunchy Truth

OPT FOR REAL FOOD

Most food in our modern grocery stores has been processed to some extent. In fact, even the act of washing is considered a form of processing according to the USDA. It is our consumption of ultra-processed junk food like chips, crackers, cookies, candy, soft drinks, and fried foods that we need to be mindful of when it comes to our health. These foods are incredibly easy to overeat because they are engineered to trigger the brain’s pleasure centers. Think about how easy it is to eat an entire bag of potato chips. About 5-6 whole potatoes are used to make an eight-ounce bag of those yummy chips. It would be nearly impossible to eat five or six plain potatoes, but by processing them with salt and fat, they become much more palatable and easy to consume. Consider this when selecting foods and opt for the whole food versions more often. For example, swap sweetened breakfast cereal for plain oatmeal with a small drizzle of honey; trade in artificially-flavored coffee creamer for real milk or cream; or replace a fast food fried chicken sandwich for a salad with grilled chicken that you made at home.

Sources: Processed Foods and Health / What is Ultra-Processed Food and How Can You Eat Less of It? The Crunch Truth

Keep Nutrition Simple

image of plate filled with 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 starchy foods, and 1/4 protein foods

Do the best you can with what you’ve got! Build healthy meals with the plate method. Visually break up your plate into three sections. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables (canned, fresh, or frozen). Fill one quarter with protein, and the remaining one quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables. Incorporate a serving of healthy fat by cooking your food in heart-healthy olive oil or adding a little cheese or nuts/seeds to your plate.

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