Aim for a healthful weight
Research clearly shows that being overweight greatly increases your risk for many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. If you are overweight, combining a healthful eating plan with regular physical activity is the most effective way to lose weight and to sustain 8 Part I: A Guide to Healthy Nutrition the loss (see sidebar: Diet and Exercise—The Perfect Pair, page 10). If you are at a healthy weight, your goal is to maintain that weight. Chapter 3 (page 47) provides further information on weight control.
Be physically active each day
Everyone—young and old—can improve their health by being more active. Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Although you will gain more health benefits with highintensity exercise that lasts 30 minutes or more, low-to-moderate activities can be part of your routine. For some people, this means fitting more activity of daily living into your usual routine. This could include using the elevator less and using the stairs more, parking farther from rather than closer to your destination, gardening, or golfing without a cart.
Let the Pyramid guide your food choices
Your body needs more than 40 nutrients and other substances for good health. No one food can give you all the nutrients your body needs, no matter how much you enjoy it or how nutritious the food is. By eating a wide variety of foods each day, you will keep your meals exciting and you will achieve the balance of nutrients that best ensures good health. (See page 11 for more information on the Food Guide Pyramid.)
Choosing a diet rich in grains, especially whole grains, reduces your risk of many diseases. These foods provide different types of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, as well as phytochemicals—important plant substances that may be beneficial to health. Rely on a wide variety of these foods rather than supplements as your source of nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals