Healthy eating has become a fad lately. Many people have stopped eating fast food opting instead for more wholesome meals. But what does eating healthy mean? What does a healthy diet comprise of?
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A healthy diet is that which contains nutrients. This means that your diet has the calories your body needs to make energy which gives you the fuel you need for your day to day activities. It also contains nutrients which help protect your body against various diseases from the common cold to heart failure.
When it comes to the foods that will make up a healthy diet, it is important to opt for fresh, whole and organic foods. Avoid genetically modified foods at all costs. The quality of foods that you eat will show in the health of your body. Poor quality foods will hinder your body’s normal functions.
Once you have bought these fresh, whole foods, prepare them yourself. Taking the time to stand in the kitchen and cook your own meals ensures that you control what you put into your food avoiding things like too much salt and sugar which are harmful to your health.
Portion control is another advantage of preparing your own foods. At home, you will serve only what you need to eat. When you do eat out, you might feel obligated to finish the portions served even if they are too much for you. Even so, if you do eat out, ask them to pack up any excess leftover food and you can eat it later.
Another key aspect of a healthy diet is self-control. Being able to control how much you eat and what you eat takes a lot of self-discipline. You should learn to say no when it comes to serving seconds because in most cases, you don’t need that extra portion of food and eating it will constitute overeating. Channel this discipline when you are craving snacks especially of the junk food variety. Go for healthier snacks instead.
Processed and pre-packaged foods contain additives like sugar and salt, in larger amounts than your body needs. These foods should be avoided at all costs.
There are different food groups that should be in your diet if you want to eat healthy.
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Carbohydrates give you energy. They also have vitamins and minerals which help to prevent chronic illnesses.
The best carbohydrates to eat are those that burn slowly and are rich in fibre. Foods that contain these carbohydrates include fruits and non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, beans and whole grains. Eating these will keep you feeling full for longer meaning that you will avoid looking for snacks.
Foods that are high in carbohydrates but unhealthy that you should avoid include processed foods like crisps. These foods are digested faster thus making you hungry quicker, forcing you to reach for more.
Proteins are essential for your muscles, skin cells hair and nails. They also help your internal organs to function properly.
When choosing which proteins to eat, opt for lean proteins. These can be found in fish, chicken (without the skin), beans, seeds, soy and whole grains. Bake or roast the fish and chicken instead of frying.
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Red meat is high in protein but also contains unhealthy fats which can clog your arteries resulting in heart disease.
Fats help your body to absorb vitamins and also form a layer around your organs, protecting them.
Healthy fats can be found in olive oil, fish, nuts, legumes and avocados.
Avoid baked goods, snacks, fried foods and margarines because they contain unhealthy fats.
Foods marked low-fat or fat-free tend to have a lot of sugar or salt which can lead to obesity and high blood pressure. Remember your body stores excess sugar as fats.
Fruits and Vegetables
These are a source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Eating adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables will help decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers not to mention keeping common colds at bay.
To increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you eat daily, eat them in between meals when you feel like snacking. Instead of a packet of crisps, pick a banana or apple instead.
Milk and other dairy products
Milk, cheese and yoghurt are sources of protein and calcium the latter of which is essential for your bones and teeth.
Drink plenty of fluids. Six to eight glasses of water is the recommended amount to keep your body functioning optimally.
By following these guidelines you will ensure that you eat a healthy diet and you live a longer, healthier life.
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