How to Create a Healthy Eating Plan

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  • 0:06 Healthy Eating
  • 0:30 Evaluate Food Intake
  • 1:15 Your Nutritional Needs
  • 3:25 Design Your Eating Plan
  • 4:39 Assess Your Progress
  • 5:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Would you like to know what goes into creating a healthy eating plan? Learn how to evaluate your current food intake, find your nutritional needs, choose the right foods and assess your progress to create a plan that meets your nutritional needs.

Healthy Eating

Creating a healthy eating plan is a lot like putting together a puzzle. Like any puzzle, you might be scratching your head at the start wondering how in the world you will make all the different puzzle pieces fit together. In this lesson, you will learn about tools and guidelines from reputable sources, such as the federal government, that can help you build a complete picture of the nutrients that are right for you.

Evaluate Your Current Food Intake

The first piece of your healthy eating puzzle is to evaluate your current food intake, which involves gathering facts about your typical eating habits. The best tool for this job is a food journal. A food journal allows you to record the meals, snacks and drinks you consume during the day. Because your food intake will vary from day to day, it is a good idea to keep a food journal for a few days in a row, because this gives you a more realistic picture of your current eating habits. A detailed food journal should include the amounts of all of the foods and beverages you consume, as well as the cooking methods used. For example, was the food fried, boiled or cooked in butter?

Find Your Nutritional Needs

With that puzzle piece in place, you can get working on the next piece, which involves using established tools and guides designed to help you find your nutritional needs. The federal government has set Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), which are recommendations for the appropriate consumption of nutrients that healthy people need in order to stay healthy. Because gender, age and different circumstances, such as pregnancy, affect your nutritional needs, DRIs are set to be appropriate for people in different genders and stages of life. The federal government provides healthy eating guides and tools to calculate your daily nutritional needs based on the Dietary Reference Intakes.

You can also use the six accepted diet-planning principles, which offer practical advice on how to apply your healthy habits. These six principles are sometimes discussed using their combined initials ABCDMV. The A stands for adequacy, meaning your diet needs to provide enough energy and nutrients to meet your needs as a healthy individual. B stands for balance, meaning you want to consume the right portions of foods from each food group. C stands for calorie control, meaning you want to avoid overeating by consuming the right amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight given your metabolism and activity level. D stands for density, or more specifically, nutrient density. You want to consume a good amount of high-nutrient foods that are lower in calories, like green leafy vegetables. This would be the opposite of calorie-dense foods that are packed with calories, but contain few nutrients, like a piece of sugary candy. The M stands for moderation, which means you do not have to deprive yourself of favorite foods, but remember to limit foods high in fat, sugar and salt. And lastly, V stands for variety, meaning you want to choose from a wide variety of foods within each food group to help maximize your nutrient intake.

Design Your Eating Plan

The DRIs and six accepted diet-planning principles tell you how much of each nutrient you need and offer practical advice on healthy eating habits, but they don't tell you which foods meet these nutritional needs. Therefore, you need the next puzzle piece, which shows you how to design your eating plan and pick the actual foods you will eat. To help with this aspect of your healthy eating plan, the federal government has developed the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are the diet and lifestyle recommendations designed to reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote health, and food guides, such as MyPlate, which are nutritional guides based on the dietary guidelines.

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