Of course, there's more to good nutrition than counting calories. When you're cutting down portions, you're reducing your intake of helpful nutrients, too, so it's even more important to make healthful choices. (In fact, it's probably a good idea to take a multivitamin that provides 100 percent of the Daily Values, just to cover your bases.)
Here are the 5 foods you should be eating as part of a balanced diet every day:
Fruits & Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, but high in vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals—compounds that fight disease-causing free radicals and amp up enzymes that clear toxins. Choose a rainbow of colors to get the widest variety of nutrients. Aim for 1 to 2 cups of fruits and 1½ to 3½ cups of vegetables per day.* Get more with our 15-minute fruit desserts and healthy recipes for fruits and vegetables.
Lean Proteins: Some studies show that, gram for gram, protein may keep you feeling fuller than carbohydrates or fats do. For overall health, choose sources that are low in saturated fat: seafood, poultry, lean meat and tofu. Eat 3 to 6½ ounce-equivalents per day.*
Low-Fat Dairy: Nonfat (or low-fat) milk and yogurt provide a satisfying combination of carbohydrate and protein. They're also good sources of calcium, which dieters often fall short on. Cheeses contain calcium, too, but pack in calories. Choose cheese with bold tastes so you don't need a lot to get great flavor. Eat 2 to 3 cups of dairy daily.*
Healthy Fats: Heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (in nuts, avocados and olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (in canola oil, plant oils and fish) infuse food with flavor. Eat 4 to 8 teaspoons per day. Enjoy them in these delicious nut recipes and fish recipes.
*Daily intake guides are those recommended by the USDA's MyPyramid.gov for a calorie level of 1,200-2,600 calories.