Eating healthy and losing weight go hand in hand. There are plenty of studies that have proven this. The foods that we eat play a large role in the outcome of our long-term health. Making only a few small changes in our diet can dramatically improve our health years down the road.
You need more than 40 different nutrients for good health, and no single food supplies them all. Your daily food selection should include bread and other whole-grain products; fruits; vegetables; dairy products; and meat, poultry, fish or other protein foods. How much you should eat depends on your calorie needs.
Surveys show most Americans don’t eat enough of these foods. Do you eat 6-11 servings from the bread, rice, cereal, and pasta group, 3 of which should be whole grains? Do you eat 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables? If you don’t enjoy some of these at first, give them another chance. Look through cookbooks for tasty ways to prepare unfamiliar foods.
The weight that’s right for you depends on many factors including your sex, height, age, and heredity. Excess body fat increases your chances of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some types of cancer and other illnesses. But being too thin can increase your risk for osteoporosis, menstrual irregularities, and other health problems. Regular exercise is also important to maintaining a healthy weight.
If you keep portion size reasonable, it’s easier to eat the foods you want and stay healthy. Did you know the recommended serving of cooked meat is 3 ounces, similar in size to a deck of playing cards? A medium piece of fruit is 1 serving and a cup of pasta equals 2 servings.
Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating. When you’re very hungry, it’s also tempting to forget about good nutrition. Snacking between meals can help curb hunger, but don’t eat so much that your snack becomes an entire meal.
Most people eat for pleasure as well as nutrition. If your favorite foods are high in fat, salt, or sugar, the key is moderating how much of these foods you eat and how often you eat them. Identify major sources of these ingredients in your diet and make changes, if necessary.
Not every food has to be “perfect”. When eating a food high in fat, salt, or sugar, select other foods that are low in these ingredients. If you miss out on any food group one day, make up for it the next. Your food choices over several days should fit together into a healthy pattern.
To improve your eating habits, you first have to know what’s wrong with them. Write down everything you eat for three days. Then check your list according to the rest of these tips. Do you add a lot of butter, creamy sauces or salad dressings? Rather than eliminating these foods, just cut back your portions. Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables? If not, you may be missing out on vital nutrients.
Just as there are no “superfoods” or easy answers to a healthy diet, don’t expect to totally revamp your eating habits overnight.