With afflictions like obesity, Type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease on the rise in the United States, now it is more important than ever to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet. But what exactly is healthy eating, and how can you eat to lose weight? What nutrients do you have to look out for, and which are less critical for weight loss and general health? What exactly do experts consider to be healthy? With all the media buzz around carbs, red meat, and cheese, what exactly is nutritious and right for you?
Feeling healthy isn’t all about dieting or restricting the type of foods you can eat, it is a more holistic way of cooking and eating. It tends to focus more on home prepared, and home cooked meals over fast foods, and healthy snacks like produce instead of chips and other prepared foods. The most general rule in healthy eating is to focus on eliminating processed foods from your diet and replacing them with healthier, less processed substitutions. Portion control is also a large part of healthy eating habits. Learning what makes up a serving is essential for healthy cooking and eating habits. These dining and dieting tips aim to help you live your best, most youthful life.
Tip One: Mix up Your Meals
This tip is an essential tip on this list! If you vary the types of foods you eat, you will get a variety of different nutrients and minerals, which are necessary for your health. Even if you do eat unhealthy foods on occasion, try throwing in a healthy, home-cooked (or at the very least, home-prepared) meal every once in a while.
Tip Two: Portions are Powerful
Merely minimizing how much of everything you eat can be a great way to ease the transition to healthy eating! Taking smaller bites in conjunction with your healthier portions can be helpful, too – a 2013 research study found that lighter, smaller bites lead to less food consumed by distracted eaters. Smaller plates and forks are also something to consider if you’d like to invest in eating less.
Tip Three: Take Your Time
Along with adjusting your portions and switching up your meals, taking your time when you eat is also something that leads to a healthier eater. Taking your time when you eat leads to better digestion, more natural weight loss, and higher satisfaction with your meals. Just by beginning to eat slower you can start to lose weight easier. How cool is that?
Tip Four: Ditch Three Square Meals
Instead of the traditional three meals a day, try eating six smaller meals a day. Experts suggest eating meals every three hours to boost digestion and to keep your blood sugar consistent. They recommend eating your breakfast less than an hour after waking up to kick-start your metabolism, and then planning the rest of your day’s meals after that.
Tip Five: Get Plenty of Produce
It’s true, fruits do contain sugars, and not all vegetables taste very good. But the antioxidants and vitamins in produce mean that your body will thank you. When you do purchase and eat fruits and veggies, aim for five servings a day and try to eat a rainbow of different colored produce. Plus, fruits and vegetables make perfect snacks, making it easy to get all five of your servings in the day!
Tip Six: Get More (Whole) Grains
Whole grains, like produce, contain high amounts of antioxidants. But unlike produce, whole grains contain lots of fiber, which is essential for your bowel movements (and also reduces your risk of heart disease!) High fiber foods also help you to feel fuller with fewer calories! Health experts recommend that you get three to eight ounces of grains, and around half of those should be whole grains.
Tip Seven: Limit Refined Grains and Refined Sugars
Just as whole grains are beneficial for you, refined grains are the opposite. Refined grains contain almost no fiber, are starchy, and are high in gluten. Consuming more than half of your daily allotment of grains as refined grains can lead to increased risk for abdominal fat, heart disease, and type II diabetes. Refined sugars tell a similar story– they are virtually empty calories because they have little to no nutrient value. Plus, sugars are bad for your teeth and can cause illnesses like diabetes or hypoglycemia.
Tip Eight: Fish and Nuts
First, fish: despite being higher in fat than most foods, fish pack a punch with their Omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3s are excellent for heart health, as they can regulate blood clotting and play a role in mitigating an irregular heartbeat. They can also reduce depression and help neurological development.
Now on to nuts: despite having a high-fat content, nuts are an excellent source of several nutrients and are low in carbs, making them an excellent choice for a snack food!
Tip Nine: Cut down on animal fats
Although animal fats are “paleo” diet friendly, they do tend to have a bad reputation for being high in saturated fat. The yolks of eggs, processed meats like bacon and bologna, and butter all are high in saturated fat. High intakes of saturated fats can raise your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and put you at increased risk of heart disease. If you can’t entirely give up your toast and eggs in the morning, you can use egg whites in the place of yolks, and have avocado on your toast instead of butter!
Tip Ten: Stop Drinking Your Calories
Sodas, alcohol, and sugary coffee drinks all have one thing in common: they are high in calories and sugars. One 12 ounce can of decaffeinated cola has 150 calories, 33 grams of sugar, and 35 grams of carbohydrates, all of which experts recommend you consume in moderation. Plus, diet sodas that contain zero calories contain artificial sugars and sweeteners, like aspartame. Researchers have linked aspartame, and other artificial sweeteners, to an increased risk of cancer.
Alcohol is also another drink high in calories. One serving of hard liquor, which is just one ounce, is 70 calories on average. One five-ounce serving of red wine has an incredible 125 calories. However, there are many benefits to drinking red wine. Researchers have proven that red wine improves cholesterol, boots heart health, and fights weight gain. One serving of beer has the most calories per serving out of all alcoholic beverages, clocking in with 154 calories. Even your favorite light beer might be calorie heavy– light beers contain the same amount of alcohol with fewer carbohydrates and only slightly fewer calories.
With the new year fast approaching, which one of these health tips will you keep in mind next year? Were there any tips that we missed out on in this list? Leave a comment below!