The way you eat plays a significant role in your health. A healthy diet includes foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. A healthy diet focuses on lean proteins (fish, soy products, nuts and beans), whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. It also limits added sugar, salt and fat.
Eating a variety of foods helps ensure that you get enough nutrients, especially those from calcium, iron and vitamin D. Eating a variety of foods also help you meet your recommended caloric intake for the day.
A diet high in processed foods, sweets and sugary snacks can lead to obesity and contribute to other health problems. This includes heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Processed foods are often high in sodium, saturated fat and added sugar. They also contain fewer nutrients than whole foods. Examples of processed foods are fast food, chips, cookies, frozen pizzas and deli meats.
Having healthy meals at home is important to a balanced diet. Cooking your own food allows you to control ingredients and portion sizes. It is also more cost-effective than eating out. Cooking larger servings will provide you with leftovers for another meal, making it easier to follow your healthy eating plan on a daily basis.
If you want to eat out, choose restaurants that offer salads or other healthy options. Try to eat seafood at least twice per week and limit red meat to no more than once or twice a week.
Keep a well-stocked kitchen. This will make it easier to eat well on a busy schedule. Keep frozen vegetables, canned tomatoes, fruit and low-fat milk and fortified soy alternatives on hand. Stock your pantry with healthy snacks such as nuts, peanut butter, cheese and whole grain crackers.
A healthy diet is not just about what you eat, but how much you eat. Make an effort to eat slowly and savor each bite of food. It will help you feel more satisfied and may even prevent overeating.
Don’t ban any foods. When you make certain foods off-limits, you tend to crave them more and overindulge when they are available. Instead, reduce portion sizes of unhealthy foods and eat them less often. You can also give recipes a makeover by cutting back on sugar and adding chilies or spices to your foods for a tasty flavor boost that won’t add calories. Avoid sugary drinks, and instead, savor the flavor of sparkling water with lemon slices or blend berries and bananas with whole milk for a refreshing smoothie. You can also freeze 100% fruit juice in an ice cube tray with plastic spoons for easy handling and create your own popsicles using low-fat yogurt or sorbet.