Healthy eating should not be about dietary restrictions, gaining an impractical slim body shape, or denying yourself of the foods you like. It is about supplying the sensation of good feelings, reenergising the body, and regulating your mood. If you feel inundated by all the contradictory diet and nutritional advice out there, then you are not alone. It seems that for every specialist that tells you a particular food type is good for you, you will find another claiming exactly the opposite. By following this basic guide you can cut through the mystification and discover just how easy it is to create a flavoursome and varied healthy diet.
Now to get into the right mind set, think of preparing a healthy diet as many small attainable steps rather than a severe radical change. If you approach these changes slowly but surely with commitment, you will soon discover that you are well under way to achieving a healthy diet earlier than you thought possible. Rather than concerning yourself with calorie counting or calculating portion size, try to consider your diet in terms of freshness, variety, and colour. Focus on selecting food sources you already like and collect some easy recipes that will integrate fresh ingredients. This will make it easier for you to start the gradual change to eating healthier meals whilst still preparing your favourites.
Beginning a new totally foreign diet overnight is just not realistic or smart, start slowly and alter your meal ingredients over a period of time. Completely changing your diet might seem like a bit of a novelty at first but this method usually leads to cheating with between meal snacks and then total abandonment of the diet plan altogether. Try small changes like including a salad full of various coloured vegetables to your diet once a day or even switching to olive oil or coconut oil when cooking. As your small changes become habitual, you will continue to add more healthy choices to your diet without even realising it. Every change you make to improve your diet is an accomplishment and you do not have to completely eliminate foods that you like to enjoy a healthy diet. The long term goal is to include a lot more fresh nutrient dense food types to your diet in the attempt to reduce the risk of acquiring chronic diseases. Do not allow your moments of weakness to derail you because every healthy food choice you have made is a huge step forward from where you were.
Many individuals believe that healthy eating is an all or nothing proposal, but the principal foundation for any healthy balanced diet is moderation. Moderation in essence means consuming only as much food as your body requires. At the end of each meal you should feel content but certainly not bloated. Think about serving portion sizes in realistic terms, if you do not feel content at the end of a meal, try adding more green leafy vegetables or rounding off the meal with fresh fruit. Visual cues may assist with controlling portion sizes, for example, a serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of playing cards, mashed potato or pumpkin would measure about half a cup, and rice or pasta is about the size of a traditional light bulb. We have to train ourselves to eat only what we require for normal body functioning. Moderation is also important when referring to the balance of a meal. Regardless of what certain fad diets would have you believe, we all require a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins, and minerals to maintain a healthy body.
The purpose of focussing on eating healthy is to develop a routine diet that can be maintained for life, not just a few weeks or months, or until you have reached your ideal weight goal. For many of us, this means eating much less than we do now. In particular, I am referring to eating much less of the unhealthy food types such as saturated fat, refined sugar, and salt, and substituting these with fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs and spices. But this still does not mean eliminating the food types we like. For example, consuming bacon for breakfast once a week could be considered in moderation if the individual followed up with a healthy lunch and dinner. If you were to consume 100 calories of a low nutritional food source then balance it out by deducting 100 calories from your evening meal, but make certain that this 100 calories is deducted from the carbohydrate and protein portion of your meal and not the vegetable portion. If you are still hungry, then feel free to fill up on an extra serving of fresh vegetables. You will soon notice a reduction of your intake of the unhealthy food types, you may even find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only infrequent indulgences.
Fresh Vegetables & Fruits
Fresh vegetables and fruits are the foundation to preparing a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense and low in calories, meaning they are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Regrettably most individuals fall way short of the suggested daily minimum requirement of vegetables and fruit, and should look at increasing the intake to at least double of the current diet. Try including to your new diet a rainbow of vegetables and fruits with every meal. Deeply coloured vegetables and fruits contain higher concentrations of the required antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and the various colours represent different benefits, so include a variety. Aim to provide a minimum of five portions each day. You could try including berries to breakfast cereals, replacing desert with a healthy fruit platter, and snacking on vegetables sliced into thin sticks instead of processed snack foods.
Branch out beyond the bright and dark green lettuce. Spinach, kale, broccoli, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage to mention just a few are all packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. The naturally sweet vegetables like squash, carrots, corn, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, and onions bring a healthy sweetness to your meals and over time will satisfy your cravings for unhealthy sweets. Sliced fruit can even be added to main meals, while providing healthy sweetness, fruit is also a satisfying means to fill up on the much needed fibre, antioxidants, and vitamins. Berries are a well known cancer fighting food type, apples provide abundant fibre, mangos and oranges supply abundant vitamin C, and so on.
Fibre Dense Food
Consuming food sources high in dietary fibre is a fantastic way to stimulate digestion, improve proper bowel function, lower the risk for heart disease and stroke, reduce the risk of diabetes, and provide an effective means for weight loss. It is recommended to consume between 21 to 38 grams of fibre each day for optimal health. In general, the more natural and unprocessed the food source, the higher the fibre value. Excellent sources of fibre include whole grains, nuts, oatmeal, beans, vegetables like as carrots, celery, and tomatoes, and fruits such as pears, apples, berries, and citrus fruits. There is no fibre in meat or dairy products. Refined or white food sources such as white rice, white bread, and pastries have had most of their fibre removed by the refining process. A simple method to adding more fibre to your diet is to start each day with a whole grain cereal, such as an All-Bran, or by adding unprocessed wheat bran to your favourite breakfast cereal.
As fibre remains in the stomach longer than most other food types, the feeling of fullness will stay with you thereby reducing the urge to snack unnecessarily. Consuming sufficient fibre will also move fat through the digestive system at a faster rate therefore reducing the amount of fat that is absorbed into body. When consuming sufficient fibre dense food types, the body will feel energised and eager to exercise, so the benefits for weight loss are commendable.
Carbohydrates and Whole Grains
Choosing healthy carbohydrate and fibre dense food sources will ensure long lasting energy. Fibre dense foods such as whole grains are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals which both assist in the protection against diabetes, coronary heart disease, and certain cancers. Studies have concluded that individuals that consume sufficient whole grains tend to have a healthier heart. Healthy carbohydrates incorporate whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and beans that are digested at a much slower rate assisting the body to feel full for longer periods of time whilst ensuring that blood sugar and insulin levels remain stable. The unhealthy carbohydrates are food types such as white rice, white flour, and refined sugar that have been stripped of all fibre, bran, and nutrients. Unhealthy carbohydrates digest quickly and are the cause for spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.
Make certain to include a variety of whole grains to your new healthy diet, try including brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, millet, and barley. Experimenting with various whole grains will soon reveal your favourites. Make absolutely certain that you are really getting whole grains. Avoid refined food types such as breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals that are not whole grain. Be aware that the words like multi-grain, 100percent wheat, stone-ground, or bran can be misleading. It would be safer to look for the words like whole grain or 100percent whole wheat at the beginning of the food type ingredient list. In certain countries there are reliable Whole Grain Stamps that differentiate between partial whole grain and 100percent whole grain. If whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta do not sound that appetising at first, begin by mixing what you normally use with the whole grains, this way you can gradually increase the whole grain to 100 percent without ruining the taste of your favourite meals.
Lean High Quality Protein
Protein also provides our body with the energy to get up and go. Consumed protein from food sources is broken down into molecules to supply the body with the required 20 amino acids. These amino acids are the body’s basic building blocks to allow for growth and energy and crucial for maintaining cells, tissues, and organs. While an excess of protein may be harmful to individuals suffering kidney disease, the latest research suggests that most individuals require more high quality protein than the present dietary recommendations. This latest research also indicates that as we age, we actually require more high quality protein in our diet to maintain proper physical function.
Protein requirements are actually based on weight rather than calorie intake. The average adults should consume at least .8 gram of lean, high quality protein per kilogram (2.2 lb) of body weight per day. Surprisingly, it is suggested that a higher intake may assist in lowering the risk for type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, and stroke. Elderly individuals should aim for 1 or 1.5 grams of lean high quality protein for each kilogram of body weight. Nursing women require about 20 grams more lean high quality protein a day than they did prior to pregnancy to support milk production.
To ensure that you are gaining the maximum benefit of the high quality protein that is eaten, it is advisable to consume various protein types rather than just relying on red meat and whole milk dairy products, which both just happen to be high in saturated fat. Try replacing red meat with fish, chicken, or plant based protein such as nuts, beans, and soy. Snack on seeds and nuts instead of chips, substitute baked dessert with greek yogurt, or exchange slices of pizza for a grilled chicken breast and a side of beans.
By replacing not so healthy processed carbohydrates with high quality protein you can improve your good cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Try replacing unhealthy processed carbohydrates from cookies, cakes, pastries, pizza, and chips with fish, chicken, seeds, nuts, beans, peas, tofu, low-fat dairy, and soy products. You will also feel full for longer periods of time, which can again assist with weight loss.
Healthy Fats To Consume & Avoid
Quality sources of healthy fats are required to support the brain, heart, and cells, as well as your skin, hair, and nails. Food sources rich in omega3 fats called EPA and DHA are especially important for their ability to improve anxiety and depression related issues, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and help prevent dementia. Monounsaturated fats from plant oils such as olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil, as well as nuts like almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts, and seeds like sesame and pumpkin, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats including Omega3 and Omega6 fatty acids, often found in fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and some cold water fish oil supplements. Other sources of polyunsaturated fats are chia seeds, flax seed oils, soybean, corn, walnuts, and unheated sunflower oil.
Try to reduce from your diet:
Saturated fats which are usually found mainly in animal food sources such as red meat and whole milk dairy products. Trans fats which are usually found in certain margarine's, vegetable shortenings, cookies, candies, crackers, snack foods, fried foods, and other processed food sources that are prepared with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
The nutritional experts suggest that you limit the amount of saturated fats consumed to less than 7 percent of total daily calories. In other words, if you require 2,000 calories a day, no more than 140 calories should come from saturated fats. That is roughly 16 grams of saturated fat per day. And no more than 20 of those calories should come from trans fat. That is roughly 2 grams of trans fat per day. Given that the amount of naturally occurring trans fat you would consume each day, this in effect leaves no room at all for the addictive fast food.