Sometimes, eating healthy can seem so confusing. Fat is bad—no, it’s good. Snacking should be avoided—but you should eat several mini-meals each day. There’s a lot of conflicting nutrition information out there, but believe it or not, there are some general guidelines that pretty much all nutritionists follow—and recommend to their clients.
Start Your Day with Breakfast
“It’s hard to find someone to disagree with you on this point. Breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism and gets you fueled up to start your day.” —Katie Cavuto, M.S., R.D., the dietician for the Phillies and the Flyers
Limit Fast Food
“While I appreciate that some are offering healthy choices, many still are huge portions and, well, not the best.” —Shelly Marie Redmond, R.D.
Eat Real Food
“Pick up a container of cereal, and look at the ingredients—I bet you can only pronounce half of them. This happens way too often in the supermarket. Cut out the overly processed chemically engineered foods, and go straight to the source. Skip the pre-packed trail mix, and make your own: nuts, some dried fruit, and maybe even some popcorn. I’d rather see someone eat whole foods and have it contain slightly more calories than a bag of veggie chips that earn a zero on the nutrition scale.” —Keri Glassman, R.D., a Women’s Health contributor
Listen to Your Hunger
“Eat when your body needs the fuel, and stop when you’ve filled the tank.” —Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., a wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute
Eat More Veggies
“Unfortunately, as a nation, we are lacking in our vegetable intake. It’s a shame considering how healthful they are. We can always make more room on our plate for veggies—and the more colorful, the better.” —Katie Cavuto, M.S., R.D., the dietician for the Phillies and the Flyers
Hydrate with Water
“Humans need water to survive. That’s a fact. Quenching your thirst by sipping throughout the day is the best way to replenish fluids naturally lost.” —Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., the nutrition and health expert for NBC’s TODAY Show and founder of NourishSnacks
Don’t Skip Meals
“This sets you up for a metabolic double-whammy by slowing down your metabolism and causing you to be starving later on, which can ultimately lead to overdoing it or making poorer choices than you would have otherwise.” —Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D., senior clinical dietician at Mount Sinai Hospital
Snack When Necessary—It’s Not a Bad Thing!
“If it’s going to be more than five hours in between meals, you should grab a snack. It’ll give you energy plus help to keep you from overeating at your next meal.” —Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet
“One word: sugar.” —Shelly Marie Redmond, R.D.
It’s OK Not to Eat Perfectly
“Indulging from time to time is actually good for sticking to an overall healthy diet. I always tell my clients not being ‘perfect’ with your diet is way healthier than being an overly rigid eater. Enjoy. Listen to your body, and just do the best you can at every meal.” —Keri Glassman, R.D., a Women’s Health contributor
*This story was originally published on WomensHealth.com.