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Division of Marketing and Development
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Mayo Building, M-9
407 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800
(850) 617-7300

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Adam H. Putnam, Commissioner
Wellness expert Donna Richardson

Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Good nutrition and eating habits play a fundamental role in healthy living. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals in addition to eating balanced meat are great steps toward healthy eating.

What to Eat

An unhealthy diet can lead to many chronic diseases and conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. By simply making smarter, healthier choices, you can beat these risks.

Eating smart is easy. All you need to do is keep these simple tips in mind:

Eat at least five fruits and vegetables each day. Including fresh produce in your diet is your first step toward a healthier lifestyle.

Reduce your portion sizes; keep meat servings to about the size of a deck of cards

Make sure to eat breakfast every day; it will help you refrain from snacking later.

Eat slowly; it takes 20 minutes for your brain to know your stomach is full.

Eating healthy throughout the day not only keeps you full but it also keeps your metabolism running.

Try baking or broiling instead of frying.

Flavor foods with herbs and spices instead of butter and salt.

Eat before you go to the grocery store; shopping on an empty stomach will make you buy more junk food.

Try not to eat out of boredom or frustration. If you're not hungry, do something else -- like taking a walk.

It's Easy as 1- 2- 3

Try this simple, easy-to-follow plan to start including more fresh produce into your diet:

  • Eat 1 or more fresh vegetables
    with 2 meals a day
    for 3 months

After consciously changing your eating habits for three months, you will find that healthier eating has become part of your normal routine.

Portion Size

Portion size is often a problem, as the American concept of a portion size has grown larger. Eating plate of spaghetti is not a single serving; depending on the size of the plate, it could actually be three or four servings. A single serving of pasta is actually the size of your fist or a deck of cards.

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast gets you off to an energetic start by jump-starting your metabolism and providing essential nutrients that will keep your body and mind at peak performance.

Breakfasts rich in protein, such as eggs and lean meat, and fiber, such as whole grain cereals, are ideal. They not only keep the hunger pangs away, but they also provide a healthy start for the day.

Stay away from sugary cereals, pastries and syrups. The high sugar content causes them to be digested quickly and will leave you feeling hungry and tired within a few hours.


Water is essential for living. It lubricates the joints and aids in digestion and the removal of waste. Drinking water also has a great effect on combating cancer. Drinking five glasses of water a day decreases your chance of colon cancer by 45 percent, your chances of breast cancer by 79 percent, and your chances of bladder cancer by 50 percent. Water can also temporarily suppress appetite and can aid in weight loss. Tips for drinking water:

Drink before you are thirsty.

Carry a water bottle.

Plan a water drinking routine; start and end each day with a glass of water.

Use caution with caffeinated drinks; they can cause you to lose 50 percent of the water you drink.

For variety and interest, liven up water with slices of lemon or lime, try carbonated water, or drink from a fancy glass.

Shop for a Healthy Lifestyle

Make an effective shopping list. Plan weekly meals and snacks in advance. Don't forget: snacks are important because they provide that energy charge to get you to the next meal.

Read the nutritional label on food. Avoid foods high in saturated fats and sodium and those that contain partially hydrogenated oil.

Look for foods rich in fiber. Four grams per serving is perceived as a good source of fiber. Multigrain potato chips can provide this fiber.

Seek out lean meats and fish. Lean meats have less fat, and fish has fatty acids that are good for your heart. Avoid processed lunch meat, hot dogs and bacon that may contain impurities such as chemical additives and excessive salt.

Cook With Your Health in Mind

The closer your food is to its natural state the better. Vegetables maintain their nutritional value the less they are cooked. Stir-fry is a great way to cook vegetables.

Fresh fruits are also a great and healthy way to satisfy a sweet craving.

Use whole grain breads and pastas instead of bleached white pastas.

Before cooking, trim fat off of meat.

Use vegetable spray instead of shortening, butter or oil.

When you have to use oil, choose olive or canola.


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