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Seeking optimum health through diet is not just about eating healthy and maintaining a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. It is not about changing your basic diet so drastically that you become bored with it or find it too difficult maintain. It is all about making small food choice modifications and sticking with those changes.
Many people think of a healthy diet as an “all or nothing” proposition. Wrong! The key to any healthy diet is always moderation. OK, you say – what is moderation? Essentially, it means eating only as much food as your body requires. After a typical meal, you should feel satisfied, but not stuffed.
Moderation is also all about balance. Despite what popular fad diets would have you believe, everyone needs the correct balance of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to promote and sustain a healthy body.
A “Win-Win” Diet Plan
People who eat healthy, mainly unprocessed foods, including vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, and limited amounts of lean animal protein, often discover that they can eat as much as they want without gaining weight. Do you have any idea how much salt, sugar, hidden fat and artificial preservatives hide in the majority of processed foods? If you examine the labels, you would likely hesitate to put that “junk” in your body.
When switching from a diet containing lots of fat and sugar-laden processed foods, most people find that they can eat more yet consume fewer calories -- and still lose weight. It’s a “win-win” situation when you never have to feel deprived, can consume a larger volume of food and still lose weight.
For example, if you can’t resist the occasional big, juicy cheeseburger, switch to a lower fat beef and low-fat cheese.
Choose healthy fiber and carbohydrates sources, especially multiple whole grains, for long-lasting energy. In addition to being nutritionally rich, delicious and satisfying, whole grains are an excellent source of phytochemicals, amino acids and antioxidants, which help to protect against diabetes, coronary heart disease, and certain cancers. Multiple medical research studies confirm that people who eat whole grains tend to have a healthier heart.
Trade pastries in the morning for coffee, eggs, and whole-wheat toast. Poached eggs only take a few minutes to make, and scrambled eggs can be microwaved in a bowl. Instead of opting for a candy bar, chips, and cookies for a midday snack, choose a banana and a handful of nuts.
Don’t Forget The Fiber
Fiber, a carbohydrate that the body cannot breakdown, passes through the body undigested. There are two varieties: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is present in oatmeal, flax, barley, nuts and fruits such as citrus fruits, pears, apples, and berries. Insoluble fiber sources include whole grain breads, pastas and cereals and in vegetables such as celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
WebMD.com points out the importance of fiber, advising,
“Fiber aids digestion, prevents constipation, and lowers cholesterol -- and can help with weight loss. Most Americans get only half the fiber they need. To reap fiber's benefits, most women should get about 25 grams daily while men need about 38 grams -- or 14 grams per 1,000 calories.”
FamilyCancerCenter.com emphasizes the importance of fiber in a healthy diet, stating,
“Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of foods of plant origin (it doesn’t occur in any foods that come from animals, e.g. butter, meat, eggs, fish). Fiber provides bulk to our diet and helps to maintain a healthy colon. It does this in several ways; first, it stimulates muscle contractions and hence reduces colon transit time (minimizes constipation). Secondly, it dilutes any potentially hazardous or carcinogenic substances and also reduces the amount of time these substances would be in contact with the colon wall. Thirdly, it provides an environment that is conducive to “friendly” bacteria or acidophilus. These are supportive to us as they partially digest some of the fiber and provide us with nutrients and they also maintain a healthy acidic level in the colon.”
Snacking on healthy whole foods throughout the day is helpful to curb hunger and maintain sugar levels. It also helps to reduce cravings for “quick fix” foods like sugar and simple carbs that give temporary energy followed by a crash.
Everyone knows the importance of eating healthy, but due to busy lives and hectic schedules, many of us find ourselves preparing freezer meals or driving through the fast-food lane in order to grab a bite and get through the day. Packing vegetables and fresh fruits as snacks and lean meat or low-fat cheese sandwiches in the morning can help you avoid the temptation to eat fast, high calorie, high fat food and improve your overall health while keeping your diet resolve.
Follow The Boy Scout Motto – Be Prepared
Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks and wholesome meal ingredients. If you know you have all the fixings for a quick, healthy meal at home, you can avoid the fast-food line. At the office, keep a supply of nutritious, low-calories snacks to help you resist the sugary doughnuts and pastries on the coffee cart.
Excellent staples to keep on hand include salad greens, fresh fruit, whole-grain pasta, and breads, frozen vegetables, low-fat cheese, nuts, canned beans, and tomatoes, and pre-cooked chicken breasts or fish filets.
Healthy Fats In Moderation
Good sources of healthy fat are needed to nourish our heart, brain, and cells, as well as your skin, hair, and nails. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called DHA and EPA are especially important. They can prevent cardiovascular disease, improve your mood, and help prevent diabetics and dementia.
Medical experts encourage us to eat healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, eggs, nuts and butter in moderation. Fat is an essential nutrient in our bodies and is an integral part of a healthy diet. Every cell in our bodies relies on fat to heal and create new cells. A lack of fat leads to memory loss, fatigue, depression, muscle pain, constant hunger and a weak immune system.