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PALA+ Healthy Eating Goals

Start eating healthy – it’s easier than you think! In addition to physical activity, the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+) includes the healthy eating goals below. To achieve PALA+, you need to meet at least six of the nine weekly healthy eating goals, including at least one of the dietary limit goals (added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium). Focus on your healthy eating goals every week. When you reach a goal – congratulations! You’ve started a routine for a healthier lifestyle.

Weekly Goals

Graphic of an appleFocus on Whole Fruits: When choosing foods at meal time, aim to choose whole fruits over fruit juice for extra fiber. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed.

Graphic of a carrotVary Your Veggies: When choosing foods at meal time, select a variety of colorful vegetables to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy. There are many different ways to eat your vegetables, such as fresh, frozen, or canned. When preparing and eating your veggies, try to limit added salt, butter, or creamy sauces.

Graphic of whole wheat breadMake More of Your Grains Whole: An easy way to eat more whole grains is to switch from a refined grain food to a whole grain food. For example, eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, brown rice instead of white rice, and oatmeal instead of a breakfast pastry. Read the ingredients list and choose products that list a whole-grain ingredient first. These include ingredients like: “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “rolled oats,” “quinoa,” or “wild rice.”

Graphic of seafoodVary Your Protein Routine: Meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Select leaner cuts of beef and pork and eat turkey and chicken without skin. Grill, roast, poach, or broil instead of frying. Include beans or peas in main dishes. When tracking these foods in SuperTracker, be sure to select “Count as Protein Food” to count them toward your Protein Foods goal.

Graphic of a milk cartonMove to Fat-Free or Low-Fat Dairy: Dairy products offer calcium, vitamin D, and many other nutrients your body needs. Foods like fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt, reduced fat or low-fat cheese, and soymilk are part of the dairy group.

Graphic of a water dropletDrink Water Instead of Sugary Drinks: Regular soda and other drinks such as fruit drinks and energy drinks can have added sugars. Instead, reach for a tall glass of water. For added flavor, try adding a slice of lemon, lime or watermelon to your glass of water or a splash of 100% juice in sparkling water.

Dietary Limit Goals

Graphic of sugar spoonfulLimit Added Sugars: Added sugars include syrups and other caloric sweeteners. When sugars are added to foods and beverages to sweeten them, they add calories without contributing essential nutrients. Consumption of added sugars can make it difficult for individuals to meet their nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits.

Graphic of stick of butterReplace Saturated Fats with Unsaturated Fats: Saturated fats are one type of fat in the foods we eat and the beverages we drink. Most saturated fats come from animal products, like dairy, meat, and poultry. To limit the amount of saturated fats you eat, choose lower-fat dairy and lean options for meat and poultry — like lean beef and grilled chicken breast without the skin. By replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, you may lower your risk of getting heart disease.

Graphic of salt shakerSelect Foods with Less Sodium: Read the Nutrition Facts label to compare sodium in packaged foods like soup, canned vegetables, and frozen meals; choose the foods with lower amounts. Look for “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” and “no salt added” on food packages.

For more information on healthy eating patterns and how to ensure your diet is meeting your nutritional needs within an appropriate calorie level, please consult the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

What if I have dietary restrictions?

The PALA+ program is open to all individuals – even those with dietary restrictions! The PALA+ healthy eating goals are flexible so that users can earn their award in a way that fits their lifestyle. Choose to focus on the goals that work for you. To achieve a PALA+ award, you must meet six (6) of the nine (9) healthy eating goals, including at least one (1) of the dietary limit goals.

If you have questions regarding your ability to complete one or more of the PALA+ healthy eating goals, please consult with your health care provider.

Content created by President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition
Content last reviewed on June 21, 2018