Healthy eating is just as important as exercise. A healthy diet is the fuel needed to maintain and perform all daily functions. There are three nutrients that are essential to life: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. A healthy diet starts with a base of daily exercise and weight control.
Whole grain foods may be consumed at most meals. The body needs carbohydrates mainly for energy. The best sources of these are whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice. It is best to stay away from processed carbohydrates such as white flour. Processed carbohydrates allows blood sugar and insulin levels to rise and fall too quickly which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Fats are also part of a healthy diet. There are healthy and unhealthy fats. Specifically, plant oils are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats. These include olive, soy, corn, sunflower, and peanut oils as well as fatty fish such as salmon.
Vegetables should be eaten in abundance. Fruits should be consumed 2 to 3 times a day. A diet high in vegetables and fruits can decrease the chances of a heart attack or stroke, protect against different cancers and lower blood pressure.
Fish, poultry and eggs should be consumed 0 to 2 times a day . These are important sources of protein. Research shows that fish can reduce the risk of heart disease. Actually an egg at breakfast is much better than a donut cooked in oil rich in trans fats or a bagel made from refined flour.
Nuts and legumes are excellent sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They can be consumed 1 to 3 times a day. Examples of legumes are black beans, navy beans, garbanzos, and other beans that are usually sold dried.
Dairy or calcium supplements should be consumed 1 to 2 times a day. Traditionally, dairy product consumption was thought to be the only way to obtain calcium to combat osteoporosis. Research now shows that there are other healthy ways to get calcium. If you enjoy dairy products, it is best to stick with no-fat or low-fat products because dairy can be high in saturated (or unhealthy) fats. If you don’t enjoy dairy products, there are other avenues to obtain your daily intake of calcium.
Red meat and butter are foods that should be consumed sparingly . Switching from butter to olive oil can be a healthy alternative.
Other foods that should only be consumed sparingly are white rice, white bead, potatoes, white pasta, soda, and sweets. These foods can lead to sharp increases in blood sugar which can lead to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic disorders.
A daily multivitamin can be also be taken. This offers a kind of nutritional backup. It should not be used as a replacement for any nutrient or unhealthy eating. It is merely an additional source that can fill in the gaps of nutrition that do occasionally occur even with healthy eaters.
There are other keys to healthy eating that must also be followed besides the correct foods. Portion control is another component of healthy eating. In American society, portion size has increased. Average restaurant servings can be 2 to 3 times larger than needed.
Other tips for healthy eating include:
- Stop before you are stuffed- Learn your body’s signals and practice stopping before you feel full
- Be selective- Be mindful of what you are eating
- Select small portions
- Beware of desserts- A single piece of cheesecake can contain almost 800 calories and 49 grams of fat
- Slow down- Eating fast short-circuits the signals that your digestive system generates to signal that it’s getting full. Slowing down gives your stomach and intestines time to send these messages to your brain
- Spoil your appetite-Having a snack or appetizer before a meal can dull your hunger and help you to eat less
- Be aware of why you are eating- People sometimes eat in response to emotional situations. Try to find other ways to deal with these situations