ABC’s of Nutrition

The ABC’s of Nutrition: Aim, Build, and Choose for Good Health

Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures. There are many foods and many ways to build a healthy diet and lifestyle, so there is lots of room for choice. Enjoy the food you and your family eat and take action for good health.

By utilizing the food pyramid guide and following the ABC’s of nutrition, you can promote your health and reduce your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis. These diseases are leading causes of death and disability among Americans.

The ABC’s of nutrition for your health and that of your family are:
Aim For Fitness
Build a Healthy Base
Choose Sensibly

Aim for Fitness

  • Aim for a healthy weight. Balance the calories you eat with physical activity.

  • Get moving. Do 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity most days or every day. Make physical activity part of your daily routine.

Build a Healthy Base

  • Use the food pyramid guide to help make healthy food choices that you can enjoy.

  • Build your eating pattern on a variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Include several servings of whole grain foods daily, such as wheat, brown rice, oats, and whole grain corn.

  • Enjoy at least 2 servings of fruit and at least 3 servings of vegetables each day. Choose dark-green leafy vegetables, orange fruites and vegetables, and cooked dry peas and beans often.

  • Choose foods from the milk and the meat and beans groups each day. Make low-fat choices most often.

  • It is fine to enjoy fats and sweets occasionally. The key is moderation.

Choose Sensibly

  • Eat sensible portion sizes. This is one key to a healthy weight.

    • If you are eating out, order small portions, share an entree with a friend, or take part of the food home (if you can chill it right away).

    • Check product labels to see how much food is considered to be a serving. Many items sold as single portions actually provide two servings or more such as a 20-ounce soft drink, a 12-ounce steak, a 3-ounce bag of chips, or a large bagel.

    • Be especially careful to limit portion size of foods high in calories, such as cookies, cakes, other sweets, fries, fats, oils, and spreads.

  • Limit your use of solid fats, such as butter and hard margarines. Use vegetable oils as a substitute.

  • Choose fat-free or low-fat types of milk products, and lean meats and poultry. Eat cooked dry beans and peas and fish more often.

  • Use the Nutrition Facts Labels to help choose foods lower in total fat, especially saturated fat as well as in cholesterol and sodium.

  • Limit your intake of beverages and foods that are high in added sugars. Do not let soft drinks or sweets crowd out other foods you need, such as milk products or other calcium sources.

  • To keep your sodium intake moderate, choose and prepare foods with less salt or salty flavorings.

  • If you are an adult and choose to drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly – limit intake to one drink a day for women or two for men.

What is Your Limit on Fat?

Total Calories per Day
Saturated Fat in Grams*
Total Fat in Grams*
18 or less
20 or less
24 or less
25 or less
31 or less

*These limits are less than 10% of calories for saturated fat, and 30% of calories for total fat.
**Percent Daily Value on Nutrition Facts Labels are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Values for 2,000 and 2,500 calories are rounded to the nearest 5 grams to be consistent with the Nutrition Facts Labels.

Source: USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

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