A healthy diet and active lifestyle affects a whole lot more than weight: USDA research indicates that a healthy diet full of nutritious food plays a part in preventing chronic disease.

Whether you’re planning school lunches or making healthy changes to your lifestyle, it’s hard to make a big change all at once. To get started, try these four small changes to make your health and long-term wellbeing a priority.

  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables work to maintain a healthy blood pressure, possibly protect against certain types of cancer, and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. Use these creative ways to slip fruits and veggies into your snacks and meals.
  • Make half of your grains whole grains. Whole grains help maintain a healthy digestive track and keep your blood sugar steady, lowering your risk of diabetes. Check out the USDA’s tips on adding whole grain to your diet, as well as the American Diabetes Association’s Create Your Plate tool to ensure you’re getting enough whole grain in your meals.
  • Move to low-fat and fat-free dairy. While dairy can promote bone health, consuming too much high-fat dairy can result in high cholesterol levels. This can increase risk of heart attack and stroke. Follow these ten simple steps to make sure you’re making the right dairy choices.
  • Vary your protein routine. Switch it up! Protein fuels your body, so make sure you’re balancing the kinds you’re eating. Regularly consuming lean protein can help maintain heart health, relieve the symptoms of arthritis, and more.

Check out our health resources for more ways to feel healthy and energized!