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How can I make my meals healthier?

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Dear Doctors,

I’m overweight and I want to start eating better, but I have no idea where to start. How can I make my meals healthier?

— Hungry for Information

Dear Hungry,

We commend you on your decision to eat healthier! With so much conflicting information out there about diet and nutrition, we understand your confusion.

Here are the facts: Research shows that you can significantly decrease your chances of developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases by eating a varied diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat, and low in saturated fats and cholesterol.

These tips will help you build a more nutritious diet:

  • Read the labels on food products. Look for foods that are low in fat, sugar and sodium and high in protein and fiber.
  • Load up on fruits and vegetables. Aim for at least five servings a day of a variety of produce.
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day.
  • Eat lean meats, such as chicken and fish.
  • Bake or grill your food with heart-healthy olive oil instead of frying it.
  • Choose skim milk and other dairy products that are low in fat.
  • Switch your snack food from potato chips to baked pretzels or air-popped popcorn.
  • Save cake, ice cream and other sugary treats for special occasions.

To create a healthy eating plan that’s right for you, talk with your doctor. A dietitian can provide great information and support, as well.

Bon appetit!

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