If you want to eat healthier, sometimes it takes a little planning. But how exactly do you plan for a healthy diet? Here are
some steps to get you started:
? Stock your kitchen with healthy foods.
A first step in eating right is getting prepared. Go
through your fridge and pantry and toss the super-unhealthy stuff you want to eat less of. Then, get ready to cook up healthy
meals by stocking your pantry with healthy-cooking essentials. Check out this Guide to
Stocking a Healthy Kitchen
for advice on where to get started.
? Make a meal plan. Get organized about your eating habits. Make a meal plan at the beginning
of the week, shop for it and follow it. You can leave a couple nights open for eating out or takeout, if you like, but
planning it ahead of time will help you make intentional, healthy choices.
? Eat vegetables or fruit at every meal. Simply upping your consumption of fruits and
vegetables—foods packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants—helps to lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Not
to mention all the other benefits: for example, beta carotene in carrots and sweet potatoes helps keep your eyes, bones and
immune system healthy, and lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit may help protect against prostate and breast
cancers. How much you should eat depends on your age and size, but many adults need roughly 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of
? Pack your lunch. A packed lunch isn’t just for kids. Packing a healthy lunch to take to work
will make it easier to eat more healthfully throughout the day. Remember to pack nourishing, satisfying snacks, too, so you
don’t give in to the afternoon lure of the vending machine (or cafeteria cookie, sweet coffee drink or whatever your
particular vice may be). Think about taking leftovers from last night’s dinner and adding some cut-up vegetables, fruit and
nuts for snacks.
? Hide tempting foods. One study found that keeping unhealthy food hidden can help you eat
less of it: when secretaries were given candies in clear dishes to place on their desktops, they helped themselves to candy
71 percent more often than a similar group that was given the same candy in opaque dishes so that the candy wasn't visible.
At home, stash tempting treats inside a cabinet where you can't see them—or better yet, get rid of them altogether and keep
the apples—and other healthy eats—out on the counter.
? Schedule your exercise. If you wait for the mood to strike or for a lull in your day, you
might not get in an optimal amount of exercise. Make sure you get enough by checking your schedule at the beginning of the
week and penning in appointments to exercise. Need some incentive? Just remember that in addition to boosting your
energy, exercise can help keep your heart healthy, lengthen your life and lower your risk of chronic disease.
How much exercise do you need? Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity (like brisk
walking) or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity (jogging/running), as well as strength-training twice a week. You can
break that total time up into chunks that work for you—10-minute walks at lunch 5 times a week would knock out 50 of those
minutes, a longer hike on the weekend or a couple of bike rides or dance classes could fill out the rest (just make sure the
segments are at least 10 minutes long).
? Try a new activity. Embrace change and try something new to you: take a yoga or meditation
class, hit the climbing gym…find out how much fun you can have being healthy by discovering a new activity.