What is a Healthy Eating Pattern

A healthy-eating pattern includes all the foods and beverages we consume. All foods and beverages work together to create a healthy eating puzzle to meet nutritional needs. A healthy eating pattern be adapted in many ways to fit your lifestyle.

Following a healthy-eating pattern can help you meet the dietary recommendations. By meeting the recommendations, you set yourself up to achieve and maintain optimal health. Healthy eating patterns also help support a healthy body weight and can help prevent and reduce certain diseases throughout your lifetime. What does a healthy eating pattern look like?

To meet dietary recommendations, it is key to focus on variety, nutrient density, and quantity. Nutrient dense foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fat-free or low fat-dairy products.

A healthy eating pattern should include:

  • A variety of vegetables from each of the 5 groups (dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other)
  • Fruit preferably whole fruit, such as fresh, frozen, or dried
  • Grains at least 50% of which is whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, and popcorn
  • Fat-free or low- fat dairy- such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified non-dairy soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods- including seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy
  • Healthy oils- such as olive, canola, peanut, sesame, or vegetable oil

A healthy eating plan should also limit:

  • Saturated and trans fats- no more than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat, and avoid trans-fat consumption
  • Added sugar- no more than 10% of daily calories from added sugars
  • Sodium less than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day

Examples of Healthy Eating Patterns

A healthy eating pattern can be adapted and formed to meet personal preference. Below you will find three examples of different eating patterns.

Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern

Includes typical foods and beverages Americans consume, but in a nutrient-dense form

Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern

Includes typical foods and recipes of Mediterranean-style cooking

Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern

Eliminates all meat, poultry, and seafood products

All of these patterns provide a well-balanced healthy eating style and allow you to meet dietary guidelines. Remember, eating patterns can be adaptable to meet your needs and lifestyle!


Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

U.S. Dietary Guidelines 

Mayo Clinic

Did You Know?

About 75% of US adults do not meet the fruit or vegetable intake recommendations!