Choose healthy foods!


Over the last 20 years …
•    Hamburgers have become nearly 25% larger.
•    An average plate of Mexican food is 1/3 larger.
•    Soft drinks have increased in size by 52%.
•    A typical bag of snack food is 60% larger.

While you may know it is important to eat a healthy diet, you may find it difficult to choose to eat the fresh fruits and vegetables you need, especially when you’re on the run, have fast food choices nearby or enjoy southern-style cooking! With obesity rates rising at an alarming rate in Cobb County (12% for youth and nearly 24% for adults), it’s time to start making smarter, healthier choices when it comes to the foods we eat.


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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Georgia’s nutrition scorecard looks like this:
  • Approximately 36% of adults are considered overweight and another 29% are considered obese.
  • Only one quarter of adults report eating fruits and vegetables five or more times each day.
  • Approximately one-in-five youth eat fruits and vegetables at least five times a day.


In the CDC’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating plan:
  • Healthy Snack PyramidEmphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars
  • Stays within your daily
    calorie needs

Here are some simple ideas to help you get started:
1. Balance food choices within your lifestyle.
  • Make milk or a low-fat shake your beverage for an extra calcium boost.
  • Go for grilled, broiled, or steamed foods more often than fried foods.
  • Enjoy ethnic foods such as Chinese stir-fry, vegetable-stuffed pita or a Mexican burrito. Go easy on the sour cream, cheese and guacamole.
  • Add tomato, peppers and other vegetables to all kinds of sandwiches to boost nutrients.
  • Be sizewise about muffins, bagels, croissants and biscuits. Jumbo sizes have jumbo fat grams and calories.
2. Add variety to your food choices.
Try something new once a week, such as:
  • Fruits (pomegranate, pineapple, mango)
  • Vegetables (deeply colored green, purple, orange
    vegetables have highest nutritional value)
  • Grains (flaxseed, millet, oats)
Sometimes you have to eat on the run but fast food can be healthy if you make the right choices. Click here for several menu choices to look for and be careful next time you’re forced to eat and run.
4. Don't let portion sizes get out of control.

The results will show up in your
waistline. Use this guide to help ensure your meals measure up:
portion1Three ounces of meat is about the size of a single deck of cards portion6 Three ounces of grilled fish is about the size of your checkbook
portion2 One serving of meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of a computer mouse
portion7 One ounce of cheese is about the size of four dice
portion3 One-half cup of cut fruit or vegetables, pasta or rice is about the size of a small fist portion8 An average-sized bagel is about the size of a hockey puck (about half the size of the gigantic bagels we’re used to!)
portion4 One cup of milk, yogurt, or chopped fresh greens is about the size of a tennis ball portion9 Two tablespoons of peanut butter is about the size of a ping pong ball
portion0 One ounce of snack food (e.g., pretzels, chips) is about one large handful.
5. Buy fresh, local produce.

Farmers markets have made a comeback all across our state. Many accept EBT cards and some even double food stamps! Click here for a listing of Cobb County Farmers Markets.

6. Build a healthy plate.

The US Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate program reminds everyone to eat healthy foods from the five food groups as illustrated in this familiar mealtime visual, a place setting. The program emphasizes:

  • Balancing Calories
– Enjoy your food, but eat less.Choose My Plate
– Avoid oversized portions.
  • Foods to Increase
– Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
– Make at least half of your grains whole grains.
– Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Foods to Reduce
– Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals—and choose foods with lower numbers.
– Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
7. Eat healthy for less.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost a lot. Use these tips to help make smart food choices that are also economical:

  • Plan – Before you head to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Include meals that stretch expensive items into more portions, like stews, casseroles or stir-fry. Make a grocery list and stick to it! Then check for sales and coupons in the paper and online.
  • Purchase – Buy groceries when you are not hungry or rushed. Stick to your grocery list and buy store brands if cheaper. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables in season.
  • Prepare – Pre-cook meals that can be prepared in advance when you have time. Double or triple recipes and freeze meal-sized portions of soups and casseroles. Incorporate leftovers into a subsequent meal. Be creative with fruits and vegetables.
8. Watch The Weight of the Nation.
The Weight of the Nation is a four-part documentary, featuring case studies, interviews with our nation’s leading experts, and individuals and their families struggling with obesity. Watch the series online at
Click here to view the trailer for The Weight of the Nation.
The Weight Of The Nation is a presentation of HBO and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.
9. Grow a garden at your school.
A USDA research study is teaching 4,000 elementary students about eating fruits and vegetables while they work together to grow food. The Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth program also incorporates science, technology, engineering and math concepts. Although the program is not yet available to educators outside of the 54 low-income schools where the study is currently underway, educators can get more information by visiting the project website.
10. Get the help you need from Cobb & Douglas Public Health.
CDPH logoCobb & Douglas Public Health Nutrition Services provides guidance in the prevention and management of diabetes, anemia, hypertension and obesity, and promotes healthy eating through the supplemental food and nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC) and other services. Visit
Learn more from these links:

Woman shopping for healthy foods