What is Diet Counseling?
Diet Counseling is a proven approach to nutrition counseling that will meet your physical, mental and emotional needs. We use the latest approaches in scientific research, clinical experience, problem-solving skills, and an intuitive approach to help you feel better.
To eat healthy, be sure to get plenty of:
- Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products
- Seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, seeds, and nuts
It’s also important to limit:
- Sodium (salt)
- Added sugars – like refined (regular) sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and honey
- Saturated fats, which come from animal products like cheese, fatty meats, whole milk, and butter, and plant products like palm and coconut oils
- Trans fats, which may be in foods including stick margarines, coffee creamers, and some desserts
- Refined grains which are in foods like cookies, white bread, and some snack foods
A healthy diet can help keep you healthy.
Eating healthy is good for your overall health. Making smart food choices can also help you manage your weight and lower your risk for certain chronic (long-term) diseases.
When you eat healthy foods – and limit unhealthy foods – you can reduce your risk for:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Some types of cancer
- Osteoporosis (bone loss)
Making small changes to your eating habits can make a big difference for your health over time. Here are some tips and tools you can use to get started.
Keep a food diary.
Knowing what you eat now will help you figure out what you want to change. Print this food diary [PDF – 36 KB] and write down:
- When you eat
- What and how much you eat
- Where you are and who you are with when you eat
- How you are feeling when you eat
For example, you might write something like:
“Tuesday 3:30 pm, 2 chocolate chip cookies, at work with Mary, feeling stressed.”
Shop smart at the grocery store.
The next time you go food shopping:
- Make a shopping list ahead of time. Only buy what’s on your list.
- Don’t shop while you are hungry – eat something before you go to the store.
Use these tips to buy healthy foods:
- Try a variety of vegetables and fruits in different colors.
- Look for low-sodium foods from this list.
- Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
- Replace old favorites with options that have fewer calories and less saturated fat.
- Choose foods with whole grains – like 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain bread, cereal, and pasta.
- Buy lean cuts of meat and poultry and other foods with protein – like fish, seafood, and beans.
- Save money by getting fruits and vegetables in season or on sale. Get more smart shopping tips for veggies and fruits.
Read the Nutrition Facts label.
Understanding the Nutrition Facts label on food packages can help you make healthy choices.
First, look at the serving size and the number of servings per package – there may be more than 1 serving!
Next, check out the percent Daily Value (% DV) column. The DV lets you know if a food is higher or lower in certain nutrients. Look for foods that are:
- Lower in sodium and saturated fat (5% DV or less)
- Higher in fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D (20% DV or more)
The picture below shows an example of a Nutrition Facts label.
To learn more about the Nutrition Facts label:
- Check out “How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label.“
- Use this interactive tool to practice using food labels to make healthy choices.
Read the ingredients list, too.
To limit added sugars in your food, make sure that added sugars are not listed in the first few ingredients. Names for added sugars include: sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey, and maple syrup.
Be a healthy family.
Parents and caregivers are important role models for healthy eating. You can teach kids how to choose and prepare healthy foods.
- Use this chart to help your family shop for healthy foods [PDF – 136 KB]. Take your child with you to the store and explain the choices you make.
- Turn cooking into a fun activity for the whole family. Let your young child help with these kitchen tasks [PDF – 12 KB].
- Check out these quick tips for making healthy snacks.
- Get more ideas on how to be a healthy role model for your kids.
If you have a family member who has a hard time eating healthy, use these tips to start a conversation about how you can help.
Eat healthy away from home.
You can make smart food choices wherever you are – at work, in your favorite restaurant, or out running errands. Try these tips for eating healthy even when you are away from home:
- At lunch, have a sandwich on whole-grain bread instead of white bread.
- Skip the soda – drink water instead.
- In a restaurant, choose dishes that are steamed, broiled, or grilled instead of fried.
- On a long drive or shopping trip, pack healthy snacks like fruit, unsalted nuts, or low-fat string cheese sticks.
If you are worried about your eating habits, talk to a doctor.
If you need help making healthier food choices, your doctor or a registered dietitian can help. A registered dietitian is a health professional who helps people with healthy eating.
If you make an appointment to talk about your eating habits, be sure to take a food diary with you to help start the conversation.
What about cost?
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, health plans must cover diet counseling for people at higher risk for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get diet counseling at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to find out what’s included in your plan.
For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.
Manage your high blood pressure or diabetes.
If you or a loved one has high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease, talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian about how to stay healthy. If you need to follow a special diet, check out these websites:
- Eating Healthy to Lower Your Blood Pressure (DASH)
- Tasty Recipes for People with Diabetes and Their Families [PDF – 1 MB]
- Keep the Beat™ Deliciously Healthy Dinners [PDF – 56 MB]
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