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      The basics of healthy eating

      Getting the food to fuel your busy life may be easier than you think.

      These days, everyone is on the go, and that means they are grabbing meals to fit their schedule. However, those meals may not be the best choice for your health.

      "We always want to eat a balanced diet to help keep us from becoming obese or just to keep a healthy lifestyle in general," said Andrea Shelley, Kirksville Hy-Vee Dietitian.

      If not eating healthy, you may not be getting all of the necessary nutrients that your body needs.

      "If you're not eating a balanced diet, then you're probably lacking a few nutrients. You know you want to make sure you're getting plenty of protein, but you also want to make sure you're getting some of those complex carbohydrates, so like whole grains into your diet," Shelley added.

      With spring and summer gardening season upon us, it is easier then ever to start developing a healthy lifestyle and get those nutrients through fruits and vegetables.

      "You want to make sure you are getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, preferably the ones that are in season because that's going to be cheaper for you, and they are going to taste the best," said Shelley.

      Eating healthy is something that should be developed at a young age.

      "We are seeing preschool kids coming into kindergarten and they are already struggling with weight issues, so they need to be eating healthy," said Evonne Bird, Truman State Instructor in Health and Exercise Sciences.

      Sometimes the youngsters may be reluctant to eat their fruits and veggies, so sometimes those foods have to be snuck into meal time.

      "Don't be afraid to kind of sneak them in on them. You know, add them into smoothies, add them in with their breakfast cereal, you know puree them and put them in a meat loaf or something like that. Really, there are all sorts of ways you can kind of sneak the vegetables and fruits in and the kids probably won't even notice," said Andrea Shelley.

      If you are not used to eating healthy foods, follow these tips to help improve your lifestyle. When grocery shopping, it's best to stick to foods that are found in the perimeter of the store. That's where the more healthy and nutritious foods can be found. Substitute water for high-calorie, sugary drinks, and select lean meats instead of fatty cuts. Choose crunchy carrots or cucumber slices to snack on instead of salty chips. The best advice however, is to make time.

      "A lot of people say I don't have time to plan my meals, I don't have time to exercise. But, you need to make it a priority. If you don't make it a priority, it's not going to happen and you're going to suffer down the road because you did not make it a priority," said Bird.

      So before stopping at a drive-thru for a hamburger, pack a sandwich for lunch instead, and limit sugary soda-pops. Eating and living healthy helps to maintain your body's everyday functions, promotes optimal body weight, and can assist in disease prevention.