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How Nutrition Can Help You Better Manage a Chronic Illness

November 28, 2023
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Woman cooking at home in the kitchen

Just like a car needs fuel to run, the human body requires food and water to move, think, breathe, and do all the things it was meant to do. Also like a car, your body is a complex machine with different parts that all work together. To run well, it needs proper care. Eating a balanced diet can help you avoid developing a chronic illness—or manage your symptoms if you’re living with an illness.

Nutrition and chronic illness

You can’t control all your risk factors for chronic illness. For instance, your family history can make you predisposed to some of the same conditions as your parents. But what you eat also matters when it comes to the following conditions:

Building a balanced meal

When planning meals, try to follow the “MyPlate” guidelines. Each of your meals should consist of:

Learn more about The Building Blocks for Eating Well

Nine tips to balance your diet

  1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Buying frozen is a great way to save money while still getting all the nutritional value.
  2. Eat more fish, especially those that contain a fat known as Omega-3, such as salmon or tuna.
  3. Reduce your intake of red meat and pork and focus on poultry, seafood, and plant-based proteins such as beans, legumes, and tofu.
  4. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats or trans fats. Skip fried foods and opt for low-fat yogurt or cheese.
  5. Avoid processed meats such as bacon, deli meats, and hot dogs.
  6. Eat foods rich in fiber, such as oatmeal, beans, seeds, berries, nuts, broccoli, and avocado.
  7. Cook at home instead of eating fast food for a healthier meal.
  8. For more nutrients and fiber, choose whole-grain bread or pasta rather than white.
  9. Drink lots of water. It keeps your body hydrated and helps you to feel full.

Read the labels

Sometimes food makers will use alternative names for less healthy ingredients like salt, sugar, or fat.

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