The food that you eat can have a transformative impact on your appearance and your mental health. Nutritionists and researchers continue to uncover the exciting and myriad ways that nutrition and eating habits help us to maintain our health, feel good, and approach life with vigor.
Is your diet helping you to get the most out of your life? Or is it holding back and causing you to miss out on the wonderful things happening around you?
In this post, we're going to take a closer look at healthy eating and how you can give your body the appropriate balance of nutrients to live a more satisfying life.
What is healthy eating?
Healthy eating is all about eating smart and consuming a balanced diet. That balanced diet should deliver the appropriate range of nutrients that people need in a reasonable number of calories.
According to the World Health Organization, healthy eating refers to a diet that includes:
- Cereals and roots
- Fruit and vegetables
- Foods from animal sources
A balance of those foods will provide a person with the vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, protein, and antioxidants that they need.
Pay attention to eating patterns
The nutritional value of the foods that a person eats is one thing, but it's also important that people consider the importance of the way that they eat.
There is a lot of ongoing research into intermittent fasting, for instance, and the way that it helps to optimize the functionality of the digestive system. Mindful eating is another important trend that people use to get control of their eating habits.
People can manage their weight, reduce binge eating, and improve their overall health by paying close attention to their relationship and habits around food.
Why healthy eating is so important
Healthy eating is important for a few key reasons:
- Healthy eating can help to protect you against the onset of chronic noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Healthy eating can help you to maintain a healthy weight and keep you in peak physical condition.
- Healthy eating promotes your overall health and helps you to feel energized.
Healthy Eating Guidelines
Healthy eating is obviously important on an individual level, but it's also incredibly important on a societal scale. Unhealthy eating habits can cause people to be lethargic and irritable. It also has a big impact on their health, affecting the way that society functions.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has released useful government guidelines for healthy eating. These guidelines are updated every five years and they outline the benefits of a healthy diet to give you the most up-to-date healthy eating advice.
The guidelines - currently in their eighth editions- are set to be updated soon. This current iteration collects together the latest findings of nutrition science to help you make healthy food and beverage choices.
The guidelines make for interesting reading, and you'll find that they cover important healthy eating topics like:
- Healthy eating patterns
- Food groups
- Recommended calorie intakes
- How to support healthy eating patterns
Healthy food facts
There are lots of mistruths and pieces of misinformation floating around when it comes to healthy eating. This misinformation can cause people to make the wrong dietary decisions and affect their health.
Here's a closer look at some healthy food cats to set the record straight on some important areas.
Sugar kills millions of people each year
Research shows that added sugar is one of the leading drivers of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. It also provides no nutritional value, given that there are no nutrients in it. This means that people who consume a lot of sugar suffer from a range of nutrient deficiencies.
If you are serious about your health, you should take every step necessary to make sure that you limit your sugar intake.
Diet efficacy varies from one person to another
People have a tendency to get very excited about fad diets. While there's often a lot of science behind those diets, it's important to remain objective and understand that there is no diet that's perfect for everyone.
The efficacy of different diets will vary according to a range of factors like your environment, your genetics, your body type, and the amount of physical activity that you enjoy.
This is why you should experiment with a range of diets to find the one that works the best for you.
Get your dose of vitamin D
The skin creates vitamin D following exposure to the sun. This is the most common way that people get vitamin D that is so critical to the functioning of their body.
Even if you like in a sunny environment, though, you should make sure that you get an appropriate level of vitamin D. Lots of people wear sunscreen when they go outside, and this means that they could be blocking their levels of vitamin D.
A deficiency of vitamin D is related to a range of serious diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and more.
Healthy eating tips
Ready to transform your life through healthy eating? Here are eight tips for healthy eating to get you off to a running start:
- Pace yourself
One of the most potent changes that a person can make to their eating habits is to slow down the pace with which they eat. Studies have demonstrated that fast eaters are 115% more likely to be obese when compared to slow eaters.
That's because it takes a while for your stomach to signal to your brain that it is full. If you eat slowly, you will be more likely to eat the appropriate amount. If you eat too quickly, though, you could eat far more than you actually need to.
A slower eating pace also causes a person to chew more thoroughly. This helps people to reduce their risk of eating too much.
- Avoid impulse purchases
Whenever you go shopping, you should try to take a shopping list with you. Put the time into creating a great shopping list that will prepare you for the week rather than going without a plan.
If you don't have a plan, you will undoubtedly find that you are more susceptible to the powers of marketing and advertising. The attractive packaging can lead you to make impulse purchases and buy poor-quality food.
This can help you to get healthier food items and also save you a significant amount of money over the course of the year.
- Never neglect water
Water can play an important role in helping you to maintain a healthy weight. This is because water can help you to suppress your appetite and consume fewer calories when it comes to your mealtimes.
Focusing on water can help you to avoid other more unhealthy drinks, too, like soda and alcohol.
- Prepare your food properly
There are lots of different ways to prepare your food. The cooking method that you choose can have an impact on the taste and quality of your food, as well as the compounds that are formed during the cooking process.
Studies have shown that grilling and frying can lead to the creation of toxic compounds that are linked to a range of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
You should try to use those cooking methods sparingly and make sure that you give yourself the best chance of healthy eating success.
- Try new foods
Modern life is often stressful and time is a precious commodity. This means that many people have a tendency to fall into ruts when it comes to their culinary lives. It's all too easy to stick to the same old recipes.
This lack of variety limits the range of diversity of the nutrients that you give to your body. This is why you should make a conscious effort to regularly try new recipes and change the way that you fuel your body.
A good rule of thumb is to try and cook a new recipe each week. This can even be a fun activity to enjoy with your partner or friends.
- Avoid eating out
Cooking at home is much better than eating out. This is because you have complete control over the ingredients and quantities that you use. Restaurants often have a tendency to pump up the quantities of salt and sugar to make their food taste more appealing.
There are other benefits to cooking at home, too. You will save more money and it's easy to cook in advance, too. This can make your life simpler and save you valuable amounts of time.
- Use healthier oils
Far too many people often use low-quality oils when they cook. These processed seeds and vegetable oils can be awful for your health, given that they are high in fatty acids. Common examples include sunflower and soybean oil.
You should try to use healthier alternatives like avocado oil, coconut oil, or extra virgin olive oil.
- Limit your portion sizes
Another great tactic to achieve healthy eating success is to think about the size of your plate. If you eat from smaller plates, you'll naturally limit your portion size and reduce the temptation to eat too much.
You can still get a second serving if you need, but the smaller plate helps you to eat slowly and more mindfully.