A healthy diet provides the nutrients needed to maintain good health. Eating a variety of foods from all the major food groups can help provide the energy, protein and fats you need. In addition, you should consume a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals to keep your body functioning at its best.
Most countries develop dietary guidelines to help people make healthier choices. These include recommended intakes for the major food groups as well as a variety of nutrient requirements, such as iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, fiber and folic acid.
When trying to make healthier choices, don’t think of certain foods as “off limits.” Instead, limit the amount of unhealthy foods and eat them less frequently. If you do eat them, try to replace them with healthy alternatives. For example, swapping trans fats with unsaturated fats (such as replacing fried chicken with grilled salmon) will lower your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health.
Reducing the amount of high-sodium foods and condiments can also help. Many common foods, such as pizza, deli meats, breads and canned tomatoes, contain large amounts of sodium. When shopping, read the nutrition facts label to find low-sodium products. Try to cook meals at home, especially on weekday nights, so you can control the quantity and quality of ingredients.
Choose healthy snacks to help manage hunger between meals and between classes. Avoid sugar-filled snacks, which can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and may impair concentration. Instead, have a few pieces of fruit, a small serving of cheese or yogurt, an egg, nuts or a vegetable.
Try to incorporate two food groups into your snack to balance the nutrients and keep your blood sugar level stable. This will prevent a craving for something sweet and provide the energy your brain needs to focus.
Add vegetables to your main meals, not just as a side dish. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and can add texture, flavor and bulk to your meal. Try adding a handful of spinach to your stir-fry or tossing some broccoli into your soup.
When eating out, try to choose a restaurant that serves smaller portions. Also, look for salads, grilled or broiled fish and steamed chicken options. These tend to be lower in saturated fat and kilojoules than other restaurant offerings, such as deep fried and pastry items.