Basic tips for healthy eating | Patient and Family Education | UC Davis Children Hospital

Basic tips for healthy eating

Think about which tips will work best for you and your family:

  • Eat breakfast every day and do not skip meals. Skipping meals may lead to extreme hunger, over-eating, and poor food choices.
  • Include at least 1 fruit or vegetable at every snack and meal.
  • Drink nonfat or 1% milk with meals and water with snacks. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks including fruit juices, fruit punch, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sodas.
  • Choose one place in the house for eating, such as the kitchen table.
  • Never eat straight from the bag or box! Serve a small helping in a small bowl or plate to help reduce portion sizes, especially for snack foods.
  • Reduce fast food and restaurant meals.
  • Do not keep problem foods around the house (a problem food is one that you are likely to eat too much of or too often if it is available).
  • Keep healthy snacks readily available so that you can grab and go.
  • Plan ahead for meals and snacks. Cook large meals on the weekends and keep leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer to use for quick meals during the week.
  • At restaurants, share your meal or take half home. Restaurant portions are usually much too big, especially for kids!
lunch bag
Plate model for meal planning
Plate Model graphic with vegetables filling 1/2 plate, protein on 1/4 plate and starch on 1/4 plate

½ Plate: Non-starchy vegetables

Examples: Salad, green beans, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, bell pepper, mushrooms, spinach

¼ Plate: Protein

1 serving of lean protein (2-3 oz.)
Examples: lean chicken (no skin), turkey, beef, fish, beans, lentils, eggs, tofu

¼ Plate: Starch

1 serving starch (1/2 cup)
Examples: whole wheat bread, pasta, rice, bagels, tortillas, pita bread, cereal, waffles, pancakes, potatoes, corn, peas

Also include:

  • 8 ounces nonfat or 1% milk or milk substitute
  • 1 serving fruit (the size of a tennis ball or 4 oz.)

Download our checklist for: Basic Tips for Healthy Eating (PDF)