The joy of eating is that one size doesn’t fit all. Some of us eat to live, while others live to eat. For those with certain chronic conditions, like diabetes, food choices are closely tied to disease management, while others may customize meals in an effort to lower their risk of developing heart disease or another condition.
Some of us love to create in our kitchen, while others prefer takeout.
Whatever your preferences and goals, the key is to develop what the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans describe as healthy eating patterns, which meet your wellness goals, fit your lifestyle and fall within your budget. According to the Dietary Guidelines, healthy eating patterns support a healthy body weight and should help prevent and reduce incidence of chronic disease, with a person’s nutritional needs met primarily through diet.
Why are healthy eating patterns so key? They take into account quantity, proportion, variety and all the different foods and beverages a person consumes; they’re also meant to be adaptable. By thinking about our dietary patterns, we can develop consistency and create opportunities to experiment with different foods.
As a first step, you need to decide on an eating pattern that best fits you. This is the foundation toensure you’re able to stick with it. To start, do a self-assessment, asking these questions:
What are your goals?
What are you willing to change?
How skilled are you in food preparation?
Do you eat out more, or will you cook?
How many meals and snacks do you usually eat daily?