Some people devote their lives to the study of nutrition and still don’t know everything there is to know about it. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need a degree in nutrition science to make healthy choices for you and your family.

If you focus on a few simple principles, you’ll have everything you need to select healthy foods at the market and in restaurants, create healthy meals that your family will love, and put your family on a path to a legacy of great health for generations.

For the rest of us, these 5 simple principles are a great place to start:

Calories in and calories out. First, gaining or losing weight is simply a matter of calories in and calories out. If you consume (i.e., eat and drink) more calories than you expend (daily activities including exercise), you will gain weight – pure and simple. Likewise, if you consume fewer calories than you expend, you will lose weight. We do believe that what you eat matters, thought – keep reading!

Balanced, varied diet. Your body requires certain vitamins and nutrients for fuel. You can get most, if not all, of these by simply eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of healthy foods. In some cases, like when a woman is pregnant, when we are growing, or if we suffer from certain illnesses, there may be specific vitamins or nutrients that we should add to our diets. But these are the exception.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins. A balanced, healthy diet for most people should consist of foods in the proportions described by the USDA in its “MyPlate” model. About half of your calories should come from fresh fruits and vegetables, about a third from grains, and the rest from proteins. It is best to eat whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta or oatmeal instead of more processed grains like white rice and white bread or potato.

The less processed a food is, the better. Try to include as little processed food in your diet as possible. As a rule of thumb, the less processed a food is, the better it is for you. For example, a hamburger is healthier for you than a hot dog, sliced roast beef is healthier than packaged bologna, and fresh grapes are healthier than either grape juice or grape jam.

Stay hydrated. Make sure you drink enough water each day. Water is critically important for your body to function properly. Most adults should be drinking at least 64‐80 ounces of water each day (think of it as 8‐10 eight ounce glasses). This, of course is just a rough guideline. If you feel thirsty, then you are likely already a bit dehydrated.

There is a lot more to healthy eating, of course. But if you keep these five principles in mind, then you’ll be on your way to creating a healthy lifestyle for you and your family.

Remember, healthy choices each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?

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