Healthy Diets for Adults

The revised food pyramid is a good metric for healthy eating choices.

Eating healthy is important at any age; however, the reasons for doing so may change as we get older. Adults need to careful to maintain healthy dietary habits, even though they have outgrown adolescence and are not yet affected by the additional factors that influence the diets of seniors.

Why is a Healthy Diet Important for Adults?

Unlike infants, children, and teens, who are in development and growth stages of life, adults are in what may be described as a “maintenance and prevention” stage. The dietary choices that people make regularly during this period will set the stage for health (or illness) later in life. Although genetic predisposition plays a role in the development of many conditions, a good number of them are influenced by lifestyle choices including where we live, how often we exercise, what types of exercise we do, whether we smoke, and, of course, what we eat. Conditions whose symptoms can be altered and sometimes even prevented by diet include obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

The Components of a Healthy Diet for Adults

Most nutritional food labels on products at the supermarket list the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) of different macronutrients and micronutrients based on the amount needed for a person with a 2,000 calorie (and increasingly for a 2,500 calorie) diet; that caloric intake is generally considered the “healthy adult” range. However, recognizing that even within age and gender groups there is consider variability about nutritional needs, there has been movement towards customizing one’s diet to meet that person’s needs based on activity level, weight loss goals, and other factors. You can learn more about the RDAs for vitamins and minerals as well as macronutrients by exploring other Food Components articles. You can also learn more about healthy food choices by visiting, the U.S. government’s revised version of the Food Pyramid.

Choosing to Eat Healthy Foods

Most people have a pretty solid understanding of how to make healthy choices about food. This begs the question, “So why don’t we?” There are quite a few barriers that people perceive to keep them from a healthy diet. Some people argue that the cost of healthy foods is too high; some believe it takes too much time to prepare healthy foods; and others simply avoid healthful options because they find them unappetizing. But these difficulties can easily be overcome if the person looks for solutions. 

Other people are stuck in a variety of self-defeating eating behaviors, including eating disorders like bulimia, eating as a coping mechanism for stress, and others. Ultimately, a healthy diet should reflect an attitude toward overall healthy living instead of simply being a rigid formula of calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein that is not realistic for life. 


  1. BBC. (2011). Healthy Diet for Adults.  Retrieved from
  2. USDA. (2012). Choose My Plate.