Healthy eating isn't about strict nutrition philosophies, staying unrealistically lean, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it is about knowing the tips to develop a healthy diet to feel good, have more energy, stabilize the mood, and stay as healthy as possible, all of which can be achieved by learning some basic concepts of nutrition and use them in a way that works for each of us.
You can expand your range of healthy food options and learn to plan ahead to create and maintain a tasty and healthy diet.
9 Tips to develop a healthy diet
Tip 1 Install yourself in success
Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portions, think about your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. This way it will be easier to make healthy decisions. Focus on finding foods you like and easy recipes that incorporate some fresh ingredients. Little by little, your diet will be healthier and more delicious.
Start slow and make changes to your eating habits as time goes on
Trying to eat a healthy diet at night is not realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Take small steps, like adding a salad (with lots of different colored vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As small changes become a habit, you can continue to add healthier options to your diet.
Every change you make to improve your diet matters
You don't have to be perfect, and to have a healthy diet you don't have to completely cut out the foods you like. The long-term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce your risk of cancer and disease. Don't let your mistakes derail you, every healthy food choice you make counts.
Think of water and exercise as food groups in your diet.
Water helps cleanse our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many people go through life dehydrated, causing fatigue, lack of energy, and headaches. It's common to mistake hunger for thirst, so staying well hydrated will also help you choose healthier foods.
Exercise. Find an activity that you like to do and add it to your day, just like adding healthy vegetables, blueberries, or salmon. The benefits of exercise are abundant throughout life, and regular exercise can even motivate you to make healthy food choices out of habit.
Tip 2 Moderation is the key
Try not to think of certain foods as "off limits"
When you forbid certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then you feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. If you find yourself attracted to sweet, salty, or unhealthy foods, start by reducing your portion sizes and not eating them as often. Later, you may find yourself wanting them less or thinking of them as just occasional indulgences.
Think in smaller portions
Portion sizes have grown recently, especially in restaurants. When eating out, choose a starter instead of a main dish, split a plate with a friend, and don't order anything that is extra-large. At home, use smaller plates, think about portion sizes realistically, and start small. If you don't feel satisfied at the end of a meal, try adding more leafy greens. Visual cues can help with portion sizes, your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards, a slice of bread should be the size of a CD case, and half a cup of Mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of a traditional lightbulb.
Tip 3 It is not just what you eat, but how you eat.
Eat with other people whenever possible
Eating with other people has numerous social and emotional benefits, particularly for children - and it allows you to model healthy eating habits. Eating in front of the television or computer often leads to mindless overeating.
Take the time to chew your food and enjoy your meals
Chew your food slowly, savoring each bite. We tend to rush through our meals, forgetting to feel the real taste of food flavors and textures. Reconnect with the joy of eating.
Listen to your body
Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that you've had enough to eat, so eat slowly.
Eat breakfast and smaller meals throughout the day
A healthy breakfast can jump-start your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day (more than the standard of three large meals) keeps your energy level and metabolism going.
Avoid eating at night
Try to eat dinner earlier in the day, and then wait 14-16 hours until breakfast the next morning. Preliminary studies indicate that this simple dietary adjustment - of only eating when you are most active and giving your digestive system a long rest each day - can help regulate weight. After dinner snacks tend to be high in fat and calories, so they are best avoided.
Tip 4 Cover your diet more with fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. They are low in calories and rich in nutrients, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Some good options are:
Green. Expand your options beyond bright and dark green lettuce. Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options that are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
Sweet vegetables. Naturally sweet vegetables like corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, squash add sweetness to your healthy meals and reduce cravings for other sweets.
Fruits. The fruit is a tasty and satisfying way to eat fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Berries help fight cancer, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangoes offer vitamin C, and so on.
The importance of getting vitamins from food without supplements.
The antioxidants and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables help protect against certain types of cancer and other diseases. And while advertisements for supplements that promise to offer the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables in pill or powder form abound, research suggests they are not.
A daily regimen of nutritional supplements is not going to have the same impact as eating right. This is because the benefits of fruits and vegetables do not come from a single vitamin or an isolated antioxidant.
The health benefits of fruits and vegetables come from numerous vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that work together synergistically. It cannot be broken down to the sum of its parts or replicated in pill form.
Tip 5 Eat more healthy carbohydrates and whole grains
Choose healthy carbohydrates and fiber sources, whole grains, especially for long-lasting energy. In addition to being delicious and satisfying, whole grains are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants that help protect against coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes. Studies have shown that people who eat more whole grains tend to have healthier hearts.
A quick definition of healthy carbohydrates and healthy carbohydrates Healthy carbohydrates (sometimes known as good carbohydrates) include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbohydrates are digested very well, helping you feel full longer and keeping your blood sugar and insulin levels stable.
Unhealthy carbohydrates (or bad carbohydrates) are foods like white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Unhealthy carbohydrates are poorly digested and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.
Tips for Eating More Healthy Carbs
· Include a variety of whole grains in your healthy diet, including whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley. Experiment with different grains to find your favorites.
· Make sure they are really whole grains. Be aware that the words stone ground, multi-grain, 100% wheat, or bran can be misleading. Look for the words "whole grains" or "100% whole wheat" at the beginning of the ingredient list. In the US, Canada and some other countries, check by looking at the whole grain stamps that distinguish between 100% whole grain and partially whole grain.
· Try blended grains as a first step in switching to whole grains. If whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta don't sound right at first, start by mixing what you normally use with whole grains. You can gradually increase the whole grain to 100%.
· Avoid: Refined foods like bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals that are not whole grain.
Tip 6 Enjoy healthy fats and avoid unhealthy fats
Good sources of healthy fats are necessary to nourish the brain, heart, and cells, as well as hair, skin, and nails. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA are particularly important and can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood, and help prevent dementia.
Add to your healthy diet
· Monounsaturated fats, from vegetable oils like olive and coconut oil, as well as avocados, dried fruits (almonds, hazelnuts and pecans) and seeds (like pumpkin, sesame).
· Polyunsaturated fats, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold-water fish oil supplements.
Reduce or eliminate from your diet
Saturated fats, which are found primarily in animal sources like red meat and whole dairy products.
Trans fats, found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, cookies, candy, cookies, snacks, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Tip 7 Put protein in perspective
Protein gives us the energy to get up and move on. Protein in food is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body's basic building blocks for growth and energy, and is essential for the maintenance of cells, tissues, and organs. The lack of protein in our diet can slow growth, reduce muscle mass, lower defenses, and weaken the heart and respiratory system. Protein is especially important for children, whose bodies are growing and changing daily.
Here are some guidelines for including protein in your healthy diet
Try different types of protein. Regardless of whether you are vegetarian or not, dealing with different sources - such as beans, nuts, seeds, peas, will open up new healthy food options.
· Beans: Black beans, navy beans, chickpeas, and lentils are good choices.
· Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and walnuts are great options.
Avoid salty or sugary nuts and refried beans.
Reduce portion sizes with protein. Many people in the West eat too much protein. Try not to make protein the center of your food. Focus on equal servings of protein, whole grains, and vegetables.
Focus on the quality of protein sources, such as fresh fish, meats, eggs, beans, or nuts. When you are eating meat, chicken or turkey, buy meat that is free of hormones and antibiotics.
Tip 8 Add calcium for strong bones
Calcium is one of the essential nutrients that your body needs to stay strong and healthy. It is an essential element for bone health throughout life, both in men and women, as well as many other important functions.
Your bones will benefit from eating plenty of calcium-rich foods, limiting foods that deplete your body's calcium stores, and getting your daily dose of magnesium and vitamins D and K - nutrients that help calcium do its job.
The recommended levels of calcium are 1000 mg per day, 1200 mg if they are over 50 years of age.
Good sources of calcium include
· Unpasteurized dairy products: Milk, yogurt.
· Vegetables and greens: Many vegetables, especially leafy greens, are rich sources of calcium. Try turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, mushrooms, and crimini.
· Beans: For another rich source of calcium, try black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, navy beans, black-eyed peas, or baked beans.
· Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts.
· Whole grains: amaranth, quinoa.
Tip 9 Limit sugar and salt
If you are successful in planning your diet with fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and good fats, you can find yourself naturally cutting out sugar and salt.
Sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems. Unfortunately, reducing the number of sweets, cakes and desserts we eat is only part of the solution. Often times, you may not even be aware of how much sugar you are consuming each day. Large amounts of added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen foods, fast food, soy sauce, and tomato sauce. Here are some tips:
· Avoid sugary drinks. A 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, more than the recommended daily limit! See Vitamined Natural Waters.
· Eat naturally sweet foods like fruits, peppers, or natural peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth.
How sugar is hidden on food labels.
Read the labels carefully. Sugar is often disguised using terms like:
· sugar cane or maple syrup
· corn sweetener or corn syrup
· honey or molasses
· brown rice syrup
· crystallized or evaporated cane juice
· concentrated fruit juices, such as apple or pear
· maltodextrin (or dextrin)
· Dextrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, or sucrose
Most of the people consume too much salt in our diet. Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure and lead to other health problems. Try to limit your sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day, the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt.
· Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods. Processed foods like canned soups or frozen meals contain hidden sodium that quickly exceeds the recommended limit.
· Be careful when eating out. Most restaurant and fast-food foods are loaded with sodium.
· Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables.
· Cut back on salty snacks like potato chips, nuts, and crackers.
· Choose low-salt products.
· Try to slowly reduce the salt in your diet to give your palate time to adjust.
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