Read below for recommendations on how to eat right.

Read below for recommendations on how to eat right.

The following Healthy Cleveland Nutrition Guidelines are helpful to anyone trying to eat healthy. Even more, these guidelines were especially developed to be used by publicly-funded institutions such as schools, daycares, food pantries, and feeding programs in our region. The goal is to improve health and well-being, as well as the quality and nutrition of foods purchased, donated, and served by local government, agencies, and organizations.

The Healthy Cleveland Nutrition Guidelines are based on the USDA Dietary Guidelines' current recommendations for consumers.

Tips for eating fruits and vegetables


  • Vary the color of fruits.
  • Canned fruits should be packed in water or unsweetened juice.
  • Produce should be sourced from local farms when available.
  • Juice should be 100% juice.


  • Vary the color of vegetables.
  • Canned/frozen vegetables should have less than 300 mg sodium per serving.
  • Limit starchy vegetables including corn, peas, and potatoes.
  • Produce should be sourced from local farms when available.

Tips for eating carbs and starch


  • > 50% of served grains should be whole grain. Examples include brown rice, whole grain pasta, and whole grain bread options (dinner rolls, bagels, etc.).
  • Sliced bread should contain 2 grams of fiber or more per serving.
  • Cereals should contain less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

Tips for eating protein


  • Choose lean protein, including skinless chicken, fish, turkey, 85/15 or 90/10 ground beef.
  • Limit protein to a maximum of 3-4 ounces per serving.
  • Offer vegetarian options for meals including protein sources such as legumes, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds. Canned beans should be low in sodium. Regular canned beans should be rinsed before cooking or serving.

Tips for eating and drinking dairy


  • Milk should be 1% or fat-free. Flavored milk should be fat-free.
  • Dairy-free milk substitutes can be used, such as soy, almond, or rice milk.
  • Use low-fat or fat-free yogurt; use reduced sugar options when possible.
  • Use low-fat or part-skim cheeses.

Tips for eating fat


  • Limit total fat intake, with most fats coming from healthy fat sources (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) such as fish, nuts, and vegetable sources.
  • Avoid trans-fat in any food products that are prepared and served.
  • Avoid deep frying foods.

Three Healthy Tips to Maximize Nutrition:

3 tips to maximize nutrition

1. Provide a variety of foods that contain high amounts of nutrients.

  • Limit processed, sugar-filled and fat-filled items.

2. Serve healthy beverages.

  • Tap water: Water should be served with every meal, preferably filtered tap water.
  • Milk: Serve 1% (unflavored) or fat-free (flavored or unflavored) dairy, soy, rice, or almond.
  • Juice: Serve 100% fruit or vegetable juice (low sodium, if applicable).
  • Iced tea: Serve unsweetened iced tea.

3. Avoid empty calories and non-nutritive foods.

  • Pastries, danish, donuts, and other baked dessert goods should not be served in the place of any other meal item or component. Aim to serve these items only on occasion and in moderation. These food items provide “empty calories” in that they add to the amount of sugar and fat consumed, but do not provide any of the nutrients the body needs to thrive, like vitamins, minerals, or protein.
  • Avoid adding additional sugars and salt if not called for in a recipe.
  • Avoid serving fruit drinks, sodas, and energy drinks.
  • Limit the use of condiments, including mayonnaise, butter, margarine, salad dressing, jelly, and other prepared sauces.

Seven Strategies for Eating Healthy:

Balancing Calories

1. Enjoy your food, but eat less.
2. Avoid over-sized portions.

Foods to Increase

3. Fruits and Vegetables - Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
4. Whole Grains - Make at least half your grains whole grains.
5. Low Fat Milks - Drink fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk instead of whole or 2%.
6. Water - Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Foods to Reduce

7. Sodium - Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals and choose the foods with lower numbers.

For more information, check out these great resources from the USDA:

Nutrition Guide Partners

Nutrition Guide Partners

*The website graphics on this page are derivative works of the original info-graphic developed by the American Heart Association (Cleveland) in collaboration with the Healthy Eating Committee. The content on this page is derived from the original Healthy Cleveland Nutrition Guidelines (PDF) document.