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The word “diet” has gotten a bad reputation. Nowadays, people associate healthy diets with restrictive eating and deprivation. But nothing could be further from the truth. Healthy eating doesn’t mean eating half portions or depriving yourself of the food you love. All you have to do is incorporate these healthy staples into your meals, limit the amount of processed foods you eat, and follow these simple tips.

Incorporate variety

No single type of food contains all of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs, so it’s important to eat a variety of food. Not only will this introduce you to the many disease-fighting foods that are available, but you will also limit your exposure to any potential toxic substances and pesticides that may be concentrated in a single food.

Portion is key

Portion sizes have greatly increased in the last few yearsespecially in restaurants―so it’s particularly important to be mindful of portion size when eating out. When preparing meals at home, be sure to read food labels and be aware of the serving sizes.

Consume plenty of produce and whole grains

Nutritionists recommend that we eat 2-½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit every day for a 2,000 calorie diet (adjust as needed based on your own calorie consumption). Make sure your meals include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that have immense health benefits. Also make sure the words “whole grain” appears on any grains or breads. Unlike white bread and refined wheat products, whole grains retain the bran and germ, which is where nearly all of the fiber and nutrients are stored.

Reduce added sugar

Items like soda and candy contain added sugar and empty calories that will inevitably lead to weight gain. These same foods are also notoriously high in saturated fat, making them even more calorie-laden. Try to limit the intake of items with added sugar, or, if you feel like you’re up to the challenge, eliminate them completely.

Increase potassium and limit sodium intake

Consuming too much sodium contributes to higher blood pressure and can have serious negative effects on those with hypertension, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. Nutritionists recommend limiting your sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day. Additionally, you can increase your potassium intake and lower your blood pressure by eating bananas, citrus fruits, potatoes, beans, and yogurt.

Know your liquid calories

A lot of the stealth calories that people consume are hidden in their drinks. Children especially get a lot of added sugar and empty calories from soda and sweetened drinks. One can of soda containson average150 calories. That means that drinking one can of soda a day adds up to 54,750 calories or over 15 extra pounds a year! Want an easy way to cut down on your calorie consumption? Then trade in those sugary soft drinks for diet soda or unsweetened tea.