Healthy Eating

In Williams County, 82% of adults and 36% of children were considered obese or overweight in 2022. Being overweight or obese can put you at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, all of which are preventable causes of illness and death.

Along with regular exercise, adopting healthy eating habits can improve your health. A simple and effective way to create a healthy eating routine is to build your meals using MyPlate, an easy-to-follow nutrition guideline from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Start Simple with MyPlate


When building your meals, consider how much you need from each food group. Follow these tips:



1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: focus on whole fruits & vary your veggies.

Fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins and minerals that can improve your blood pressure, gut health, cholesterol levels, and more. Focus on whole fruits and vegetables that are fresh, frozen, canned, or dried that have no added sugars, fat, or salt. When preparing fruits and vegetables, be mindful of how much fat, sodium, or sugar you are adding.

Try incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. This way, you are making sure you are getting a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Step outside your comfort zone – try a kiwi full of Vitamin C, add antioxidant-rich radishes to a salad, snack on some cherries full of fiber, or swap out your rice with riced cauliflower full of Vitamin K. Finding fruits and vegetables you enjoy is an important part of building a healthy meal. If you don’t like certain fruits and vegetables, then don’t eat them and find an alternative you do enjoy!

2. Make half your grains whole grains.

Not all grains are created equal! You should be aiming for at least half of the grains section on your plate to be whole grains, which are foods that contain all parts of a grain kernel. The other type of grain is a refined grain, which are grains that have been through a process that removes much of their nutritional value. Look for foods labeled as “100% whole grain” such as breads, popcorn, pasta, crackers, and oatmeal. Consuming whole grains regularly can decrease your risk for heart disease, support healthy digestion, and boost your immune system.

When you are eating refined grains, you should be choosing enriched grains. Grains that have been enriched had certain B Vitamins and/or iron added back into them after they have been processed. Many cereals and flours have refined grains that have been enriched to add missing nutrients back into the food.

3. Vary your protein routine.

Protein doesn’t only come from animal products. Along with seafood, chicken, pork, and beef, foods like beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy products all fall into the protein group.

In general, you should try to consume lean, or low fat, meat products. When buying beef, chicken, or pork, try to choose options that are 90% lean or higher. When choosing seafoods, try to buy options that are high in omega-3s, which are good fats that lower blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease or stroke, among other health benefits. These include salmon, bluefin tuna, sardines, and anchovies. Vegetarians should focus on beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy products to get their recommended amount of protein each day. Eating proteins from a wide range of food sources can provide your body with the nutrients it needs to build stronger bones, muscles, and other tissues.

4. Move to low-fat or fat-free dairy milk or yogurt (or lactose-free dairy or fortified soy versions).

Dairy products are important sources of calcium and Vitamin D, both of which promote strong and healthy bones in people of all ages. Dairy foods to focus on include milk, cheese, and yogurt. When choosing dairy products, avoid those that are high in fat and low in calcium, including sour cream, cream cheese, cream, and butter.

 Want to learn more about MyPlate? Visit for more information!

Why is eating healthy important?

Having a poor diet can have a negative impact on all aspect of our lives. Without the proper amount of nutrients, our bodies are unable to function at its best. Poor nutrition also causes us to eat things high in sodium, saturated fat, and generally higher in calories but low in nutritional value. Unhealthy eating can cause chronic health conditions including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. It is especially important for kids to develop healthy eating habits young so they can avoid the negative health consequences of a poor diet as they grow.

This does not mean you have to give up some of your not-so-healthy favorite foods. The key to a well-rounded diet is balance. You can still enjoy your favorite foods that may be considered unhealthy as long as you balance them out with healthier foods and regular exercise. Moderation is key!

WCHD nutrition programs:

The Williams County Health Department is dedicated to improving health through nutrition education, especially in our schools. Our goal is to improve eating habits and to make the healthy choice the easy choice. To learn more about our nutrition education programs, including MyPlate and CATCH Nutrition, please contact our Health Education Specialists by calling 419-485-3141.


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