Simple guidelines for healthy meals

The flurry of nutritional information in the media can make healthy meal planning seem daunting and confusing. But it doesn’t have to be, according to Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He offered a few simple tips in a February 12, 2019 Boston Globe article.

  • Make vegetables—fresh or frozen—the biggest component on your plate. Choose a variety, in different colors.
  • Eat a variety of fruits, but limit sugary fruit juice.
  • For those who eat animal protein, Willett advises eating fish a few times a week—canned is OK. Eat lean poultry once or twice a week, and small amounts of red meat no more than a few times a month.
  • Dairy products, especially plain, unsweetened yogurt, are OK in modest amounts.
  • Nuts and legumes are healthy proteins, and can be worked into a variety of dishes such as pesto, soups, and salads. Canned beans are OK.
  • Eggs are a better choice for breakfast than bacon or sugary cereal—but oatmeal with nuts and fruit is a healthier option.
  • Choose complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, and beans over refined carbohydrates like white bread and white rice.

The bottom line, according to Willett: “Choose healthy forms of protein and fat [and keep animal fats low], eat whole grains and lots of vegetables and some fruit, and you’ve got it.”

Read the Boston Globe article: What does a healthy meal look like these days?

Learn more

Healthy Eating Plate (Nutrition Source)

A diet to improve planetary health and human health (Harvard Chan School news)

Q&A: Taking nutrition headlines with a grain of salt (Harvard Chan School news)