By committing to eating better, you can reduce your risk of many chronic diseases – including heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and certain cancers – while increasing your energy and stamina. Healthy eating can even lower “bad” LDL cholesterol as much as low-dose statin drugs!
By developing your own plan for healthy eating, you’ll be able to expand your range of healthy choices to include a variety of foods, especially delicious vegetables, grains, and fruits that you may have previously ignored. This article provides guidelines and tips for creating a healthy, satisfying diet.
Tips and advice for a healthy diet
A healthy diet helps improve your overall health and well being. A healthy diet can help you feel better, provide you with more energy, help you stay fit and active, and help you fight stress.
Healthy eating can prevent most cases of heart disease and diabetes and help ward off high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer.
Eating smart: The first step towards healthy eating
Healthy eating begins with learning how to “eat smart”. -- It's not just what you eat, but how you eat.
- Take time to chew your food: Digestion begins in the mouth. Chewing breaks the food into smaller particles and mixes the food with saliva that contains digestive enzymes. Thorough digestion is key to the absorption of nutrients and to good health! Chew your food slowly, savoring every bite. We tend to rush though our meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavors and feel the textures of what is in our mouths. Reconnect with the joy of eating.
- Avoid stress while eating. When we are stressed, our digestion can be compromised. Avoid eating while working, driving, or watching TV (especially disturbing programs or the news). Also avoid confrontations, serious discussions or worry during meals. If you feel stressed or upset, stop eating and relax before continuing with your meal. Try taking some deep breaths prior to beginning your meal, or light candles and play soothing music to create a relaxing atmosphere.
- Listen to your body: Stop eating when you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eating slowly can help you get a more accurate read on this, as well. Eating just enough to satisfy your hunger will help you remain alert, relaxed and feeling your best, rather than stuffing yourself into a “food coma”!
- Eat early, eat often: Remember this old saying: breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast can jump-start your metabolism, and eating the majority of your daily caloric allotment early in the day gives your body time to work those calories off. Also, eating six small, healthy meals throughout the day, rather than the standard three large meals, can help keep your metabolism going and ward off snack attacks.
Healthy Eating Tips: The Basics
You don’t need a degree in nutrition to ensure that you get a well-balanced diet that provides the daily nutrients you need – simply focus on six basic food groups:
- Whole Grains: Whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain barley and millet. Avoid food with refined grains including many breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals.
- Vegetables: Go for the brights: the deeper the color, the greater the concentration of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Dark green and orange vegetables, from broccoli, kale and mustard greens to butternut squash and sweet potatoes, are several excellent choices.
- Fruits: Enjoy fruits in a number of ways: fresh, canned, frozen, dried, whole, cut-up, or pureed. Fruit juices can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per cup; avoid or dilute with water
- Milk and other dairy: Choose low-fat dairy products. It is important to choose dairy products that DO NOT contain rBST (bovine growth hormone). Organic dairy is best. If you're lactose-intolerant, choose lactose-free and lower-lactose products, such as hard cheeses and yogurt.
- Protein: Vary your healthy eating protein choices with a variety of fish, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. Minimize red meats containing high levels of saturated fat.
- Oils: We’ve been taught to fear fats and oils, but fresh, high quality fats from olive oil, avocado, raw nuts & seeds, coconut and fish actually provide excellent (and necessary) sources of healthy fatty acids in your diet.
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