Everyone knows that there is something that they could change in their life to become healthier. For most people, it’s getting more exercise and eating a healthier diet.
But, how do you know if you are eating healthy or not? There are so many different diets and strategies on the market, how do you know what to do?
Most people know they need to improve their diets in one way or another. They also recognize how difficult this is when you drive down the street and you see a fast food on every corner or a line of fast food restaurants.
Our lives have all become about convenience and in exchange for convenience we have become the most obese country in the world. With our instant gratification lifestyles we also know that eating healthy can be a challenge.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way and there are steps that you can take to balance out your life so that you can enjoy a Happy Meal with the kids on occasion.
Making your everyday diet healthier will allow you to improve the way you look, as well as the way you think. It’s never too late to change your eating habits, you just have to have the personal motivation to do it.
Is Your Diet Healthy Enough?
Everyone wants a healthier diet, but with all of the conflicting nutrition information in the media it is hard to determine what type of diet is healthy.
There are many factors that contribute to a healthy diet. It is important to evaluate the current diet that you eat before you embark on a plan to become a healthier eater.
Begin by asking yourself these simple questions:
- Do I eat a variety of different foods? Variety is one of many important parts of a healthy diet. It is important to eat foods from all of the food groups. If you find yourself avoiding certain food groups, such as fruits and vegetables, then it may be time to adjust the way you eat.
- Do I eat fruits and vegetables? It is important to choose from a variety of different fruits and vegetables. In fact, you want to get all of the different colors of these foods in your diet because each offers their own unique vitamins and minerals that are essential to your diet. Eat dark greens, reds, oranges and yellows.
- Do I eat breakfast? The absence of breakfast is a good indicator that you are not eating very healthy. If you don’t eat breakfast you need to begin working on that aspect of your diet, as your body may think that it’s starving.
- Do I choose low fat foods over high fat foods? There are low fat alternatives in a variety of foods including all dairies and meats. A great way to avoid a lot of fat is to prepare your own meals instead of eating prepared foods such as TV dinners.
- Do I drink a lot of water? Water is the foundation to life. Your body needs plenty of water and is important for maintaining a healthy diet. If you drink a lot of soda or coffee, you may be dehydrating yourself.
- Am I able to maintain my ideal body weight? Gaining weight without trying is a sign of a poor diet. Following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.
- Do I limit the amount of salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine that I consume? These are okay in moderation, but a lot of people use these in excessive amounts. These four elements can wreak havoc on a healthy diet.
Variety – The Spice of Life
This saying is certainly true when it comes to eating a healthy diet. Many people get stuck in ruts where they eat too much of one type of food.
This leaves their body with excessive nutrients in one area, and none in another. No one likes to eat the same thing every day, but sometimes we do for the pure convenience of it.
There are a variety of foods that you can add to your diet to keep it from becoming stagnant and boring. There are hundreds of fruits and vegetables available at the average grocery store.
There are also several other types of food that you can add to your diet including:
Variety is one of the things that nutritionists stress the most. They say that variety is important for both nutrition and psychological reasons.
A varied diet is essential for a person to maintain good health and to maintain a good psychological well-being.
Feeling deprived of your favorite foods can cause you to give up a healthy lifestyle. Variety allows you to incorporate your favorites with healthy foods and offers the chance for you to develop new favorites as well.
It is important that you continue to eat foods that you like, but in moderation. Instead of giving up bacon, have it as occasional treat. The same is true for desserts and sweets.
It is important that people eat from the five major food groups each day. The USDA identifies these food groups as:
By combining these food groups, you are ensuring that your body is receiving the necessary nutrients that these items contain. This helps to ensure proper levels of nutrition.
Simply eating from these groups is not enough. There are a variety of foods in these groups that would not necessarily be considered healthy such as ice cream or candied yams.
The five food groups may be represented, but they don’t do you much good if they are coated in sugar. Choosing the best foods from these groups is important as well.
Choosing healthy means that you want to look for foods that are not supped up with excess fat or sugar. It also means choosing meats from the lean section and removing the fat and skin from chicken. By doing this, you are eliminating unnecessary calories and excess fat.
When you choose breads and cereals, it is important not to choose those that are loaded with sugar or overly refined. Choose whole grains hat have not been enhanced.
Many of these whole grains are also fortified with additional vitamins and minerals. This insures that you are receiving these extra nutrients, but you should not rely on fortified foods alone. It is important that you get these nutrients in their natural form as well.
Many foods are also supplemented with calcium and folic acid. These help to ensure that bones and teeth stay strong. Folic acid is essential in preventing birth defects.
If you can substitute healthy foods for those that are less healthy, you will be on your way. For example, you can substitute skinless white meat chicken for dark meat drumsticks. This is a good way to maximize nutrition without losing good food options.
It is important that you choose a combination of foods that provide you with optimum nutrition. This means combining foods such as meats, beans, dairy and vegetables and whole grains to form a well-rounded meal.
All of these foods combined together will provide you with the different nutrients that your body needs.
Most foods are obviously healthy. However, it may be difficult to know whether some items are healthy or not. In this instance, you will want to look at the nutritional labels.
Labels are required on all packaged foods and can be very helpful to those who are looking to eat a healthier diet.
Not only do the labels tell you how many calories, fat grams and other nutritional information, but they also provide detailed information on the type of vitamins and minerals are in the food as well.
When choosing healthy foods, small changes can make a big difference. When you exchange fresh and low fat meals for high fat meals you will feel more energetic because you are not being “weighed down” by the high fat you were consuming in the past.
You feel full without feeling bloated. You should also notice an increase in energy levels.
By replacing highly processed grains for nutritious whole grains you will find that you are consuming more nutrients. Many of your highly refined foods are stripped of the nutrients and they do you little good in terms of a healthy diet.
Cooking techniques are also important. It is imperative that you don’t cook with high fat oil, but use a cooking spread instead. This ensures that you are not eating any unnecessary fats in the form of oil.
If you cook vegetables too long, you may actually be cooking away significant amounts of nutrients. Take broccoli as an example.
If you over boil it and then slather it in butter and cheese, you are cooking away nutrients and replacing them with fat. Boiling it too long can also cause them to lose nutrients.
To prepare vegetables, you are often better off quickly steaming them in the microwave or over the stove. Cook them in as little water as possible, but use enough to keep them from becoming scorched.
When you cook potatoes, it is a good idea to include the skin. The skin contains a lot of fiber, nutrients and minerals. You can also cook a baked potato in the microwave or grill to give it a better flavor.
By using these methods, you will make the skin soft and minimize the need to load it with butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, and so on. In fact, healthier alternatives would include a little bit of nonfat cottage cheese or nonfat yogurt.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
Is your diet healthy enough?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I eat a variety of different foods?
- Do I eat fruits and vegetables?
- Do I eat breakfast?
- Do I choose low fat foods over high fat foods?
- Do I drink a lot of water?
- Am I able to maintain my ideal body weight?
- Do I limit the amount of salt, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine that I consume?
Variety – The Spice of Life
What you can include in your diet:
- fresh fruit
- whole grains
Foods Working Together
- Choose a combination of foods that provide you with optimum nutrition
- Look at the nutritional labels
- When choosing healthy foods, small changes can make a big difference
- Replace highly processed grains for nutritious whole grains
- Cooking techniques are also important.
– Did you go through the questions to check if your diet is healthy?
– So, is your diet healthy enough?
– Is your diet consists of several varieties from different food groups?
– Are you sure that what you are eating consists nutrition that your body needs?
– Are you choosing the healthier food options?