Improve your eating habits with healthy food choices

Served dinner
We make 200 or more decisions about food each day. Improve your eating habits with healthy food choices you can incorporate in your everyday life. Choose well most of the time and your body will thank you.

Easy? Not always. 

Important? Most definitely!

Portions and serving sizes. What does it all mean? One important aspect of eating healthy is watching the amount of food you are consuming. Check the Nutrition Facts label to see how much of the food amounts to one serving. Even small packages of food can contain more than one serving. If you double the servings, you also double the calories and nutrients.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables help keep teens healthy, prevent disease, and are low in fat and calories. People of all ages should eat seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Ideally, adolescents should eat seven servings daily.

Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. The following examples equal one serving size of a fruit or vegetable:

➲Fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas, and Pears - Serving Size - 1 medium-sized piece
➲Raw, cooked, canned, or frozen vegetables - Serving Size - ½ cup
➲Cut fruit - Serving Size - ½ cup
➲Raw leafy vegetables such as lettuce and
➲Spinach - Serving Size - 1 cup
➲Dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, and mangoes - Serving Size - ¼ cup
➲Cooked peas or beans (canned or dried) - Serving Size - ½ cup

Whole grains

Whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are important for a teen’s health and growth.

Today, many foods such as white bread and white rice are made with refined grains, which are low in fiber and other nutrients found naturally in grains. Instead, it’s best to eat a variety of whole grain foods. Ideas include:

⊙ Whole grain bread- Serving Size - 1 slice
⊙ Whole grain pasta - Serving Size - ½ cup
⊙ Brown rice - Serving Size - ½ cup
⊙ Foods made with bulgur (cracked wheat) such as tabouli salad - Serving Size - 1 cup
⊙ Some ready-made whole grain breakfast cereals - Serving Size - ½ cup
⊙ Whole barley, which can be added to soups - Serving Size - Check the Nutrition Facts label.


Protein helps build and repair body tissue and is important for growth and daily energy levels. Teens need two servings of protein each day, which equals six ounces. Good sources of protein include:

«» Lean meat, poultry (no skin), or fish - Serving Size – 2 to 3 ounces
«» Beans - Serving Size – ½ cup (cooked)
«» Tofu - Serving Size – ½ cup
«» Eggs - Serving Size - 1
«» Peanut butter - Serving Size - 2 tablespoons
«» Soy burger - Serving Size – 2 ½ ounce
«» Nuts - Serving Size – ¹/₃ cup


Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for adolescents. If teens get enough calcium while they are young, they can strengthen their bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Foods, serving one, with calcium include:

»» Plain yogurt, low-fat or fat-free 1 cup
»» American cheese, low-fat 2 ounces
»» Ricotta cheese, part skim ½ cup
»» Fruit yogurt, low-fat or fat-free 1 cup
»» Milk, low-fat or fat-free 1 cup
»» Orange juice with added calcium 1 cup
»» Cheddar cheese, low-fat or fat-free 1 ounce
»» White beans (boiled) 1 cup
»» Broccoli (cooked or fresh) 1 cup


One of the best-known benefits of fiber is that it reduces constipation. But did you know that fiber may also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease?

The total number of fiber grams to be consumed by children can be computed by adding their age plus five. For example, a 14-year-old girl should take in about 19 grams of fiber every day. Ideas for increasing fiber intake include:

➮Eating whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices.
➮Eating brown rice and whole-grain products instead of white rice, bread, and pasta.
➮Choosing whole-grain cereals for breakfast.
➮Snacking on raw vegetables.
➮Replacing legumes for meat two to three times per week in chili and soups.
➮Using whole grains and legumes as part of the main meal (such as Indian dal or lentils) or in salads (such as tabouli).
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