August 15, 2014
Guide to Healthy Eating
Benefits of Healthy Eating
If you have chosen to eat healthy, you are already getting many of the benefits. However if you tend to eat on the unhealthy side, whether it be the amount you eat or the types of foods you eat, you will find multiple benefits for switching to a healthier diet. Everyone has their own definition of what healthy eating is, but most would agree that eating a nutrient-rich diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds is a great place to start.
Improve Medical Conditions
There are many diseases, illnesses and medical conditions that come from an unhealthy diet, or are worsened by not eating the right foods. By committing to a diet rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, you will notice you get sick less and avoid many the obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. With healthy eating, specifically not with processed foods and trans fats, you have better overall health, a healthier immune system, and strong bones.
You will also have a higher amount of energy when you choose to eat healthy. You will social you become more energetic from the very beginning of your day and stay healthier longer, often through the normal afternoon crash period. You will also be more socially active and productive, especially when you cut out processed foods which tend to drain your energy. With the increased energy, you do better at work or school since you have a much higher level of productivity.
Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails
By eating a diet which a lot of vitamins and minerals, you are adding nutrients to your hair, skin and nails as well. You will notice your skin looks fresh, clear and glowing while your hair has never been healthier. Drinking a lot of water keeps you hydrated and is equally good for the health of your skin, hair and nails. An added benefit is that you won’t need to buy as many beauty products because healthy eating is a natural way to improve the look of your skin, hair and nails.
Lose and Maintain Weight
If you’re currently overweight, the two most important things to do are eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. When you eat only healthy foods, you stay fuller longer which reduces the amount you eat, and exercise helps to raise your metabolism so the foods you do eat get burned off at a faster rate. If you are happy with your current weight, healthy eating will help you to maintain that weight.
Healthy eating is one of the best natural stress reliefs If you deal with a lot of stress, whether it is from home and finances, emotional stress, relationship problems, or work or school stress, you will notice it improves when you begin eating a healthy diet.
Tips for Healthy Eating
Choosing to eat healthy based on all the benefits is the easy part, but when it comes time to actually make solid decisions, it gets a little tricky. The best way to eat healthy is to start slow. Take it one step at a time, starting with the foods that are healthy, what foods to avoid, and little lifestyle changes you can make, and you will be on your way to eating healthy for your health and your vitality.
Keep a Food Diary
Before and during your healthy eating change, you should keep a food diary. Before you begin deciding what foods to eat, a food diary will help you understand what you eat now and what your diet might be missing. You my notice you hardly eat any green, leafy vegetables, too much protein and not enough fruits, or too many processed foods. This will help you move on to deciding what you should focus on eating and what is better to cut back on or avoid altogether. Keep the food diary for a week or two and write down what you need to focus on.
What to Eat
Next you will decide what you will eat and what you will avoid. This may take a little research, especially if you have special dietary restrictions like vegetarian or vegan, gluten-free or low cholesterol foods. Compile a list of everything you want to aim for on a daily or weekly basis and another list of foods to avoid. Take your list of foods to eat and write down some meals that you can make with these ingredients. Choose nutrient-rich foods that will help give you and your family the vitamins and minerals you need, like whole grains, nuts and berries, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Make those your grocery staples and build a meal plan around it.
Balance and Moderation
When building your meal plan, focus on balance. This means including protein, fiber, carbohydrates, dairy and food from every food group. If you don’t eat meat, aim for getting your protein rom other foods such as nuts, beans and legumes. Moderation is also important, especially if you want to eat healthier for losing or maintaining your weight. You can eat your favorite foods, but keep the portions down to single servings and don’t over-indulge on the not-so-great foods. Help yourself to chocolate, but choose dark chocolate as it is filled with antioxidants. Don’t eliminate anything altogether, as it can lead to binge eating and emotional overeating down the road. By balancing your food and eating in moderation, you can be happy and fulfilled as well as eating healthy foods.
Maintain Health Issues with Healthy Eating
If you have been reading about all the benefits of healthy eating, and are considering how it can help you specifically, think about your current health and the medical conditions you have. Many of them can he treated by eating a healthy diet, and more serious complications can be prevented with nutrient-rich foods. By eating a healthy diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, dairy, and other foods on the food pyramid, you will not only have a healthier weight and me energy, but your overall health is improved.
Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods
If you’re looking to add more vitamins and minerals to your diet, why not choose a natural approach? Instead of stocking up on vitamins and supplements, you can get your nutrients from the foods you eat and battle a variety of health conditions in the process. Dark, leafy greens are filled with calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamins A, E, C, and K, and magnesium. These include lettuce, kale, broccoli and cabbage. Sweet vegetables like corn, sweet potatoes, squash, yams, and beets are not only filled with vitamins but these healthy vegetables can reduce your cravings for unhealthy sweets. Fruits contain all sort of vitamins such as oranges that have vitamin C, apples that have fiber, and berries with cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Don’t be fooled by high-protein, low carbohydrate diets. Yes these work for some people, but you don’t have to stick to the fad diets to improve your health conditions. There are such things as healthy carbs like fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains that are filled with nutrients your body needs. If you have diabetes, these foods are going to keep your insulin levels and blood sugar levels stable. It is best to avoid the bad carbohydrates like white flour, refined sugar, and white rice as these aren’t healthy and will actually raise your blood sugar levels.
Good and Bad Fats
Not all fats are bad for you, but the wrong kinds of fats will be. If you have cardiovascular problems or want to avoid diseases such as heart disease, switch your focus to the good fats like omega-3. Good fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats include canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, nuts, avocados and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats like omega-6 and omega-3 are found in sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring. Reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat such as in red meat and whole dairy products and trans fat such as in butter.
Healthy Eating at Home
If you have decided to follow a healthier diet plan, then the first step is to figure out how to eat healthy at home. It can sometimes be difficult when you’re trying to decide what is healthy and what foods you can make for your family. Try to make as many meals from scratch as possible, choosing whole and fresh foods and organic produce over frozen and processed foods, canned vegetables and fruit in syrups. The following tips provide you more insight into eating healthy at home, even when you’re pressed for time.
Some of the important pantry foods and essentials will help you to make healthy meals but avoid processed and boxed foods. Some healthy items to keep in your pantry are different types of pasta noodles, rice and rice noodles, gnocchi, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds, grains like quinoa or couscous, dried fruit, oats, bran or other healthy cereals, garlic, onion, potatoes, low-sodium vegetable, chicken or beef stock, and root vegetables which keep great in the cupboard.
Refrigerator and Freezer
As far as your refrigerator and freezer are concerned, stock up on dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt, eggs, frozen vegetables, fresh pasta, fresh herbs like chives, mint, parsley and basil, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat bread, lemons, fresh fruit and salad ingredients like dark, leafy greens, carrots, cucumber, tomato and other fresh fruits or vegetables you like in your salads.
Tips for Cooking at Home
Eating healthy is possible to do at home, even with home cooked meals. You don’t need a lot of time either. If you’re pressed for time, your slow cooker is your best friend. You can add the ingredients to the slow cooker before you go to sleep or in the morning before work, and when you get home, dinner is ready to be served. Casseroles are another great option when you add whole wheat pasta noodles or rice, fresh or frozen vegetables, and your choice of filler ingredients. Having the necessary cooking and baking tools and equipment will help motivate you to cook from home. This includes pots and pans, an indoor grill, chopping blocks, pizza oven, cutting knives, utensils and equipment like a slow cooker, blender, food processor or bread maker. None of these are mandatory but they can helpful for motivating you to cook homemade, fresh foods.
The last tip for healthy eating at home involves making freezer meals. These meals are made ahead of time, such as on a free day during the week, and saved for lunches or dinners throughout the week. For example, if you’re planning on going on a business trip and your spouse and children need healthy food while you’re gone, all they have to do is pull a meal out of the freezer and cook it in the oven for 30-45 minutes. If you live a busy lifestyle, but have Sundays free, you can make a week’s worth of dinners in one day and not have to worry about them all week long.
How to Lose Weight with Healthy Eating
One of the biggest benefits to eating healthy is losing or maintaining weight. If you’re struggling with losing those extra pounds, changing what you eat and your basic eating habits can break that nasty weight loss plateau. Plus you will benefit from other advantages of healthy eating like reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease, strengthen your immune system, and improve your overall health. The following will provide you with tips and guidelines on healthy eating for weight loss.
Avoid Common Pitfalls
Before you begin deciding what to do and what foods to eat, focus on avoiding the common pitfalls associated with losing weight and dieting in general. Avoid doing any type of fad diets. They aren’t necessary in most cases as they will limit the foods you’re able to eat, many of which are the healthy foods you need for a healthy eating lifestyle. If the reason you don’t want to eat healthy is because of the cost of diet foods, then you aren’t choosing the right foods. Eating healthy foods at home and eliminating processed and canned foods from your pantry should be easy on your wallet. Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t lose weight at a rapid pace. It took time to gain weight, and it’s going to take time to lose weight.
Choose the Right Foods
So what is healthy eating? That’s a good question, and one that will get a lot of answers. In general, eating healthy means choosing fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, grains, seeds, and fresh herbs to add flavor. You may have your own definition of what healthy eating for weight loss is, but you should be sure you’re getting the proper amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients from your meals, and that each meal is well balanced. This means having a combination of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in each and every meal, including snacks.
Change Your Eating Habits
Once you have decided on the types of foods you will eat, it’s time to stop your unhealthy eating habits and develop healthy ones. Start with how often you eat. If you tend to eat no breakfast, a light lunch and a big dinner, you’re doing it backwards. While this works for some people, others will experience a lower metabolism with this eating schedule. Try switching it around and heaving a big breakfast, moderate lunch and lighter dinner. By eating a big meal in the morning, you not only increase your metabolism and energy for the entire day, but you’re giving yourself an entire day to work it off. Another healthy eating habit is to eat all of your meals and snacks at the dining room table and never in front of the computer or television.
Healthy Eating on a Budget
Choosing to eat healthy can be great for you and your family and provide you with a multitude of benefits. However, in the beginning it can seem to be a more expensive alternative. What you should keep in mind is that it is only expensive if you’re eating the same foods you used to with added healthy options. The easiest way to reduce the cost of eating healthy is replace what you were eating entirely and eating only fresh, whole foods. This isn’t always possible, so the following tips will help you stick to a budget and still follow a healthy eating lifestyle.
You don’t have to commit to an entire vegetarian lifestyle but cutting down on how much meat you eat can cut your grocery budget considerably. When you’re eating healthy, the meat you choose should preferably be free-range, grass-fed, hormone-free and organic, but of course this is going to cost more. Try eating meat just 2-4 times a week and sticking to a vegetarian diet for the rest of the week. There are a lot of delicious meals that use very little or no meat at all that your entire family will enjoy.
Cook Beans and Grains from Scratch
Ditch the canned and jarred beans and grains, and cook them from scratch. Not only will you be eating much healthier, but saving a lot of money as well. Instead of canned beans that are filled with sodium and preservatives, purchase bags of dried beans and soak them and cook them the old-fashioned way. You will always have a good supply in your house and with a little extra time and effort, you save a good amount of money. Rice and other grains are the same as the beans. You can buy instant rice in boxes but who knows what kind of preservatives are included that don’t really need to be. Instead get bulk-sized bags of rice and cook it yourself.
Buy in Bulk
Speaking of buying in bulk, this is a great way to eat healthy on a budget. Yes, you will spend a little more in the beginning, but over time you save hundreds of dollars. Food items like pasta, grains, rice, dried fruits, flour, sugar, nuts, and similar grocery staples are available in large bags or pound bags. If you have a small family, you don’t need a 20-pound bag of rice. But you can still purchase items in bulk that you know your family will enjoy for future meals.
If a trip to your local health food store had ridiculous prices on organic produce, why not visit your local farmer’s market? You will be eating healthy, organic and hormone-free foods and supporting your local farmers. Plus, most farmer’s markets charge less for fresh produce than most health food stores or grocery chains. Produce that you should purchase organically from your local farmer’s market are peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, lettuce, spinach, grapes, and potatoes.