The phrase “eat healthy” gets tossed around a lot, but most guys don’t know exactly what that means. No, it doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself to an all-kale diet, or start consuming food exclusively in juice form. In fact, those are considered poor examples of good nutrition and will most likely lead to unhappy outcomes.
A healthy diet consists of food that satisfies your body’s requirements for energy, fuel, and building blocks. To illustrate this point, several public health agencies have produced visual representations of what a proper diet should look like. Although the graphics look different, they all boil down to the same basic principles:
A well-rounded diet consists of lots of vegetables/produce, a fair amount of grain products, a reasonable amount of dairy products, a reasonable amount of meat products, and a small amount of fat. Of course, these can be tailored around individual dietary restrictions (for example, soy products and lentils are great sources of protein in lieu of meat products).
Lastly, total calorie intake should match the requirements of each individual; it makes sense that an Olympic swimmer needs to eat more food than the average person, because the swimmer uses more energy throughout the day. So take into account the amount of physical activity you partake in on a regular basis and base your calorie intake on that. That way you can ensure you’re getting enough energy to get through the day without consuming extra calories which can lead to unwanted weight gain.
Want to go deeper? The Harvard School of Public Health has a great resource related to nutrition and healthy eating: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/