Healthy eating is about much more than losing weight, getting fit, or being “healthier”. A healthy diet is a healthy diet that helps maintain or enhance total health. A healthy diet supplies the body with vital nutrition: vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. Our bodies need all of these things to remain healthy and function normally. However, many people eat too much fast food, processed foods, sugar, saturated fats, and other unhealthy foods.
Eating well means taking time out to enjoy your favorite foods and enjoy life. You don’t have to follow a particular type of diet to stay healthy. However, there are some behaviors and dietary factors that can be modified to promote a healthy weight loss and maintenance of good health.
Eating whole foods in their most natural form, with their greatest nutrient content, is the foundation for a healthy weight loss. The body needs a wide variety of whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, and nuts, to meet its daily nutritional needs. By replacing white flour and white sugar with whole foods (especially whole wheat bread), you can dramatically reduce your calorie intake and improve your health. When you replace those foods with refined grains, which contain fewer calories but provide little nutritional benefit, you can eat the same amount of calories you do now, but have less ability to lose weight and/or feel full.
In addition to whole grains and whole foods, you should also focus on healthy fats. While oils, butter, shortening, and chocolate may taste great, they are not the healthy choice for the majority of us. Instead, focus on fats from lean meats, fish, vegetables, and fruits. Some fats are better than others, depending on your overall health, your gender, activity level, etc. For example, monounsaturated fats (such as those found in nuts and seeds) are much healthier than saturated fats, which come from butter, cooking oil, or other sources. Trans fat is even worse than other fats, so if you want to lower your total cholesterol count, eliminating trans fat from your diet is the best place to start.
Lean meats and fish, especially red meat like liver and veal, are your main sources of protein. Lean cuts of pork are your second most important source, followed by poultry and fish. Fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, and even chocolate make up a surprising but important part of your nutrition that you don’t often consider. Chances are, if you haven’t heard of a food group, chances are you have it missing… and your body needs it. If you’re not getting enough of these nutrients, chances are you’re not getting enough of the other important nutrients that also provide a lot of calories per gram of them.
As you get started learning about healthy eating, you’ll probably find out that many of your favorite foods actually have some degree of both fat and carbs. This is due to the fact that carbs are digested more slowly than fats and some nutrients don’t get broken down nearly as quickly. This is why fruits and veggies are often low in calories per gram, while at the same time packing a large amount of nutrients like vitamins and minerals. As you begin to learn about healthy eating, keep these micronutrient tips in mind, and you’ll soon know what to eat and how much to eat.