There may be a couple of reasons why you would want to eat healthy: somebody told you, it’s your (yearly) new year’s resolution or you think that it’s about time you take care of your health. Whatever the reason may be, it will be a difficult path, depriving yourself of your comfort foods and minding your portions each time you eat. On the brighter side, you should also look at the improvements you will be making as you increase your lifespan, you get a better life and you also set a good example to the people around you. If you’re new at this endeavor, here’s a quick and basic guide to eating healthy for you to get on that healthy bandwagon.
Free Your Mind
Everywhere we turn, there’s always an advertisement about a new fast food product that satisfies your deepest food cravings. That’s a part of their advertisement strategy so there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is how much we are affected by it and forget that we do have a choice regarding the food we eat. Instead of simply following what our taste buds dictate, think about the long term effects. Don’t worry, there are also some good things you will instantly feel when you eat healthy food.
A good way to think in general which food is good for you is to think where it came from. Natural food or ‘real’ food are things that grew in the ground, on a tree, came from the sea, lived on land and flew in the air at one point in their lives. Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits are just some examples of real food.
On the other side of the scale, junk food comes from a drive-thru window, a vending machine, or a processing plant. If it has a lengthy ingredient list, then you can be sure that it’s not good for your body. Of course, we know that it came from natural food; but it underwent 20 steps before it reached your table, and those steps make it the unhealthy choice.
There are a lot of diets out there that have outrageous claims. Some claim that you can lose a lot of weight in just a few weeks. Deep inside, you know that it’s just a lot of hot air and nothing else. If you’re just starting to eat healthy, there are a lot hurdles you have to overcome and results are still quite some ways away. Keep in mind that small changes produce big results. You start off slow, then you’ll eventually work your way from there. Ever heard of a yo-yo diet? That’s reality catching up with a crash diet.
When people hear that someone is on a diet, what immediately comes to mind is eating very small and starving with crazy concoctions. However, a key foundation to a realistic healthy diet is moderation. It might seem vague and varied, but moderation will depend on your normal eating habits. After all, what you are aiming for is a diet that you can maintain for a long time, not just weeks or months. No matter what those fad diets tell you, you still need a healthy mix of fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals to keep your body functioning. Depriving yourself of one food group is detrimental to your body and will work against you instead. Moderation is the key to a lot of things, including eating. Instead of thinking that some food groups are ‘off-limits’, try to reduce their intake into smaller portions instead.
From what we’ve talked about, healthy eating does not depend on your food only. The way you think about food is also very important. Think of food as nourishment and learn some healthy eating habits instead of something to keep your hunger at bay. Concerning eating habits, here are a couple of pointers you could start with.
- Eat socially. Eating with other people can have social and emotional advantages. Compared to eating in front of the TV or computer where you tend to mindlessly overeat, eating with people encourages healthy eating.
- Savor your food and chew slowly. When we eat fast, our minds don’t even bother thinking about what we’re taking in. We just want to remove the discomforts of hunger and that’s it. If you chew your food, you taste the flavors and feel the textures. It makes us mindful of how the food was prepared and if it’s really healthy or not.
- Don’t confuse boredom with hunger. Listen to your body and check if you’re really hungry or if you just want to do something else. Try drinking a glass of water to see if you’re just thirsty. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It takes a few minutes before your brain decides that you’ve had enough and this is also where eating slowly comes in.
- Eat small frequent feedings. You don’t need to stuff yourself during one meal of the day and then eat almost nothing for the other meals. It will damage your body, not to mention making you feel tired and lethargic all day. Instead, you can choose to have small frequent feedings that give you regular bursts of energy all throughout the day.
Stock up on Fruits and Vegetables
Every great diet is anchored on fruits and vegetables. It might not be fun to eat for others, but it’s definitely a good foundation for a healthy diet. They are low in calories and their nutrients are denser than a Chinese phonebook. Remember that eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is very important in your diet. Try to eat them every day and every meal. Great choices of fruits vegetables include:
- Green, leafy vegetables. Packed with iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, E and K you can go beyond bright and dark green lettuce and include broccoli, Chinese cabbage, and kale. These are just some of the examples of green vegetable that you can add to your diet.
- Sweet vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, corn, and yams add a healthy sweetness to your meals. In addition, they also reduce your craving for other sweets; you can even eat these sweet vegetables as dessert.
- All fruits can be used as a snack since they are filled with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. There are a lot of health benefits from fruits which other food sources are unable to provide, so keep a healthy mix of fruit in your diet.
Eating healthy can be very daunting and frustrating a lot of times. However you don’t have to deprive yourself from those sweet temptations. As we pointed out in this guide to eating healthy, you start slow, moderate your intake, and then continue to build that healthy habit. It can take months, but after that it will be comfortable and may even seem natural for you with time. That’s one of the reasons why crash or sudden diets fail; it’s not the diet, it’s you – and your motivation to stay on that diet.