4 Pro Tips for Eating Healthy
You are what you eat. Your diet can impact almost every aspect of your life, including physical health, mood, and energy level. Decades of research have shown that poor diet is one of the highest causes of mortality and disability in the United States. Your diet is an important influence on a healthy lifestyle and is not something to put on the back burner. Luckily, we have cooked up four pro tips for eating healthy. Pull up a chair and dig in!
1. Choosing the Best Diet
There are so many options: Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, vegetarianism, keto, and more. What is the best diet? Well, the answer to that question is not the same for any two people. While the goal of the diet may be the same – to improve your health and minimize the risk of disease – the best diet for any individual is influenced by various factors, including their personal preference, cultural influences, current health conditions, and socioeconomic status.
Before you start any diet, take into consideration your own taste preferences, cost and availability of food, and religious or health restrictions. For example, someone with Celiac disease will want to explore gluten-free options. There is also considerable variability in caloric requirements depending on sex, age, and activity level. A younger, male, marathon runner will need more calories per day than an elderly woman with a sedentary lifestyle. No matter what anyone tries to sell you, diets take time to work. The body is stubbornly good at storing calories. There is no benefit of starting a strict diet of celery and tea if you cannot stick to it for more than a few days. Make a realistic plan that is tailored to your needs and you will be more likely to get results.
2. Consult the Professionals
Generally, those without significant medical problems who eat a healthy, varied diet do not need daily vitamins or supplements. While some dietary supplements have essential roles in treating medical conditions, be cautious with what is sold over the counter. There is also an entire field of medicine dedicated to nutrition and diet. When in doubt, ask your physician.
If you are having trouble finding healthy recipes that fit your taste palette, you could also consult the chefs. With their creativity and food knowledge, they are bound to serve something that will wow you. Host a private chef dinner party and you can bring them into your own home and get some quick and easy tips from the pros.
3. Healthy Foods to Eat
Virtually every healthy diet consists of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, protein-rich foods, and healthy fats – all in moderation. Eating more of these foods will help you lead a healthier life:
- Fruits & Vegetables: a superb source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. An average 2000-calorie diet should contain approximately two cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit per day. When possible, try to eat local fruits and vegetables that are in season to get the best price and flavor.
- Whole Grains: an excellent source of fiber. Aim for about three ounces of whole grains per day for your 2000-calorie diet. You can easily incorporate more whole grains by cutting refined grain products, like white bread, and substituting whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal.
- Protein: an essential macronutrient to help maintain muscle tone and keep you full longer. It also has fewer calories per gram than fats. Shoot for five ounces per day for your average 2000-calorie diet. Easy protein sources include nuts, fish, poultry, beans, and soy products.
- Healthy Fats: despite the bad rap, fats are still an essential part of your diet. They can help absorb key nutrients, support cell function, and contribute to healthy hair and skin. However, you should consume them in smaller amounts – between 10-30% of your diet. As a general rule of thumb, healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) are liquids at room temperature, like olive oil, but you can also find them in nuts, seeds, and avocados.
4. Unhealthy Foods & Drinks to Avoid
Unfortunately, there are many foods and drinks that are normalized in Western society and should be avoided.
- Unhealthy Fats: saturated and trans fats can greatly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and are often seen in red meat, whole-fat dairy, palm and hydrogenated oils, shortening, and fast food. Replace these with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats when possible!
- Alcohol: even in small amounts, like three drinks per week, may lead to increased risk for liver disease and various cancers, such as breast, mouth, and esophageal cancer. Cut it completely, or at least try to limit it to one drink per week.
High Sodium: too much salt, often seen in fast food and processed food, can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.
- Added Sugars: those sweetened coffee drinks, sports and energy drinks, and sodas are doing more harm than good to your body. These are important contributing factors to obesity as well as heart disease and diabetes.
Keep it Nutritious & Delicious
While there are many options out there, the correct diet depends on various personal factors. Remember to ask your healthcare provider or local chefs for help. Eating healthy does not have to be a miserable experience. In fact, it can be a fantastic way to add some flavor and years to your life.