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Article at a glance:
- Healthy Eating
- What is healthy eating?
- Types of heathy food and how to tell if something is healthy
- The benefits of healthy eating
- The six eating habits that can transform your life
- Summing it all up
Getting healthy is not easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
If you have decided to make healthy eating a permanent part of your life rather than a fleeting New Year’s resolution, you have taken an incredible step forward to transform not only your health but also your life.
This feat does not succeed overnight. It is one that requires hard work and consistency. However, don’t give up when things become difficult.
Just keep a positive attitude and don’t lose determination or hope.
You got this and will soon enough find yourself embracing a healthy lifestyle that proves to be both fulfilling and rewarding every day.
This is where to start on your journey to healthy living:
What is healthy eating?
Before you can start eating healthy, you need to know what that means!
Healthy eating is defined as choosing to consume a “rainbow,” or variety, of foods that provide you with the proper nutrients to maintain your health and energy. These nutrients come from carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, and water.
Types of healthy food and how to tell if something is healthy
Opt for whole grain foods, produce (aka fruits and vegetables), lean proteins, and unsaturated fats. In other words, stock up on your oatmeal and brown rice, the entire produce aisle, chicken, and nuts – just to name a few examples.
Here’s a comprehensive list of additional foods to check off on your next grocery list.
Stay far away from products that claim to be “diet.”
These labels on products are nothing but marketing ploys to trick you into spending money on apparent “quick” and “easy” ways to lose weight and be healthy.
The truth is, some of these “diet” products actually have the same amount of sugar (or salt) or even more than the counterpart they’re marketed to substitute!
The labels food companies put on their products aren’t regulated, which sometimes makes identifying healthy food a challenge.
However, you can combat this by learning how to read nutrition labels and calories.
The basic rule of thumb for reading labels is being wary of an ingredient’s number of grams.
Anything that is processed like a mono-saturated fat, sugar, or sodium should always be a lower number.
You’re going to want to look for labels that have high levels of vitamins and minerals.
If you can’t pronounce something, it’s chemically-processed. Serving size also matters!
You should pay attention to this measurement because it determines how many calories you will be consuming.
The benefits of healthy eating
It’s no surprise that eating healthy reaps incredible benefits.
But aside from helping you lose weight and looking your best, healthy eating impacts every area of your life, including your organ functions, mental health, and keeping you strong in old age.
These are the benefits of healthy eating:
Possessing an efficient amount of vitamins and minerals in our body regulates cholesterol and saturated fat content, lowers blood pressure which prevents potential cardiovascular issues such as hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, and optimizes organ health.
A body fueled by the right nutrients will not only function at its best, but it also possesses less of a risk of developing cancer.
Strengthens bones, teeth, and muscles
An important mineral our bodies need is calcium.
Calcium reduces bone loss that is inevitable with age.
However, you can slow this natural process by upping your intake of calcium.
Contrary to popular belief, your calcium source doesn’t have to be limited to simply consuming dairy.
It can also be found in dark vegetables (such as kale, seaweed, and broccoli), canned salmon, almonds, and oranges.
Upkeeps mental health and uplifts mood
Healthy food is a great tool for mood maintenance.
It stimulates the production of endorphins and dopamine which helps you stay in a good mood and prevents symptoms of depression and anxiety.
They act as natural painkillers! Furthermore, wholesome food is full of antioxidants that reduce the oxidized stress that occurs in the brain which is a result of inflammation.
Just a little food for thought!
Everyone could use a little more sleep. If you need help in that department, start with analyzing your diet.
According to a study from Harvard Health, it was found that one of the main factors that determine whether or not you get a good night’s rest is the food you eat.
Certain foods disrupt the longevity and quality of your sleep, while others regulate it. For example, while not unhealthy, consuming a spicy meal before bed causes heartburn!
Therefore, by eating healthy, you avoid sleep deprivation or unnecessarily prolonging sleep which will consequently disrupt and slow down metabolism and the body’s ability to burn calories.
Increases sex drive
Has your libido been low or close to non-existent?
Take a look at your intake of these two minerals: magnesium and zinc.
Magnesium reduces inflammation within constricted blood vessels while zinc kickstarts the production of testosterone.
Without these two minerals, you do not have proper blood flow nor produce an adequate amount of endorphins and dopamine, which are the main hormones that stir arousal.
To amp up your magnesium and zinc levels, you can indulge in a few bites of dark chocolate which is full of antioxidants and wonderfully delicious.
Sharpens cognitive function
Healthy eating positively impacts overall brain function.
It helps sustain memory, sharpens concentration skills and attention span, as well as reduces stress and anxiety, helping the brain remain relaxed and rational in the face of high-emotional situations.
Not to mention, you combat the development of Alzheimer’s or Dementia as you get older.
The six eating habits that can transform your life
Information on nutrition, health, and fitness are always saturated online and in magazines, making it overwhelming and confusing on where to start.
But have no fear! We narrowed down the best six eating habits that will ultimately transform your life.
What’s even better is that they’re simple – all you need to do is follow them!
These are the six eating habits you should immediately implement in your life:
1. Prepare meals ahead of time
Meal prepping is by far the best method that helps you stay on track with a diet or keep up healthy eating.
It’s the act of organizing and cooking a weekly meal plan which reduces the temptation to buy takeout or give into a craving since there’s already something prepared for you!
You can even prep and store ingredients in the fridge or freezer in case you need to grab or make something to-go.
Furthermore, meal prepping enables you to control portion sizes which prevents overeating and helps you consume your recommended daily caloric intake and macros, which is especially beneficial for people who are trying to lose weight and burn fat.
Lastly, you should make meal prepping a part of your daily or weekly routine so it stays consistent. Our lives are made by our habits!
2. Practice mindful eating
Life is busy, which therefore propels us to multitask to save time in a day.
While that can sometimes be effective, the only time you shouldn’t multitask is when you’re eating a meal.
Put away your phone and stop replying to your endless inbox of emails.
They can wait. You don’t want to develop an unexpected technology addiction!
Devoting your attention to eating a meal without distraction enables you to enjoy it more and embrace the present moment.
Plus, you are more aware of the food you are eating and avoid accidentally overeating or indulging in something unhealthy.
Eat slower too. Your body doesn’t register it’s full until after twenty minutes, so don’t eat until you’re completely overstuffed.
3. Cut out sugar, alcohol, and processed foods
The deadly trio to your health is comprised of sugar, alcohol and processed foods.
Did you know sugar addiction is equivalent to cocaine addiction?
Both substances have the same effects on the brain, as well as make an individual suffer extreme fatigue and withdrawal symptoms.
If you’re a heavy consumer of alcohol, you put yourself at risk for substance abuse.
You could become dependent on it without even meaning to in the first place.
Therefore, skip happy hour when you can.
Lastly, artificial foods are manufactured with chemicals that are not only addictive but also harmful to your health in the long run.
These chemicals are purposely processed to be addictive because some food companies don’t care they’re hurting your health as long as money is being made.
Pro tip: the next time you’re at the grocery store, avoid the center.
Majority of the items stocked in the middle of the store are the artificially manufactured foods full of sodium and sugar.
Stick to the outskirts of the store instead! That’s where all the raw produce and meat will be located.
4. Eat “cheat” food in moderation
Don’t worry; you can still eat your favorite sweets or savory indulgences on a healthy diet – but only every once in a while.
Develop the self-control to practice moderation with your favorite “cheat” food, such as allowing yourself one or two meals a week that don’t fit into your diet.
Not only are you still able to satisfy a craving, you realize that eating your favorite foods in moderation actually helps you appreciate them more!
If you find yourself accidentally partaking in more cheat days than expected when first starting a healthy diet, don’t berate yourself for it.
Many people have fallen off the bandwagon too.
What matters most is acknowledging your action and getting right back on track to following a healthy diet plan again.
Over time, you learn how to find balance with your meals and limitations on “cheat” food.
While on the topic of “cheat” food, it’s important to bring awareness to this subject: whenever we’re stressed, we tend to crave comfort food.
Eating greasy take-out or a jar of cookies seems like the best thing to do at the moment to ease our nerves, but you should still make an effort to eat healthy despite being stressed.
You want to avoid making a habit or relying on a coping mechanism in the form of emotional eating.
5. Cook food you actually want to eat
Eating healthy tends to have an association with limiting your diet to salads and completely cutting out carbs.
While yes, eating salads is a part of healthy eating (and are awesome, by the way), you don’t need to eat bland food to be healthy!
Plus, eating meals that taste bad or make you miserable at the thought of eating them will not help you stick with a diet and can cause you to develop an unhealthy and negative relationship with food.
Look into cookbooks and online recipes to find flavor combinations and unique ideas to prepare your food. Who knows, you might find a new favorite!
For example, you can dedicate a week to experimenting with putting your own spin on spices from Asian and Mexican cuisine to put some pizazz into an otherwise normal slice of salmon or serving of rice and vegetables.
6. Use simple recipes
A healthy meal is not complicated at all!
The basic rule of thumb to follow is to a eat a plate that includes your complex carbs, a lean protein, and healthy fats on the side.
For example, one meal would be a slice of grilled chicken, a cup of brown rice, and vegetables, such as sweet potato, on the side.
This also brings up another important point: the way you prepare your food is equally as important as the actual food you’re eating.
Just because you sprinkled kale on a bowl of macaroni and cheese does mean the bowl has automatically become healthier because you added kale.
The best ways to cook delicious but healthy food is to sauté, grill, or roast food with zero- calorie cooking spray or very little oil.
You also can’t forget to decorate them with your favorite seasoning, but keep it easy on the salt!
Summing it all up
At first, it may seem that eating healthy is a complicated feat – but in reality, it can be simple as long as you approach it with the right mindset, take the time to analyze the ingredients in your food, and stay informed about what you’re eating!
Mistakes will happen along the way, but that’s normal and to be expected.
You will feel discouraged at times, but remember that many people have been in your place and moved forward from their mistakes, meaning you can become one more person who has achieved their goals.
Eating healthy not only improves your overall mental and physical well-being, but it’s also a rewarding lifestyle.
You will never regret investing your time into sustaining it.
Besides, who has ever said, “I regret being healthy”?