There are many benefits to healthy eating; the foods you consume can have a big impact on your health and well-being, this article is a beginners guide that focusses on how to start healthy eating.
Research continues to link major health issues and serious diseases with a bad diet. For example, eating healthy can significantly reduce the likelihood of you developing heart disease and cancers, two of the biggest killers. A good diet can improve all aspects of your life, including brain function as well as physical health. Food has a pervasive effect over every aspect of your body, so eating healthy has a significant effect on your life.
In recent years, nutrition science has reduced the importance of counting calories even though total calorie consumption is still important, and counting calories is essential when trying to lose weight and remain or get more healthy. This is true even if you are on the Keto Diet, where eating fatty foods is the primary part of that diet: you still need to eat fewer calories than you use up during the day no matter what diet you follow.
When trying to lose weight or eat more healthily you will need to understand macronutrients (sometimes referred to as macros). There are three macronutrients: carbs, fats and protein. These three nutrients are required in reasonably large amounts as they supply your body with calories and numerous functions in your body rely on them to work. Below is a brief list of some of the common foods that are in each of these macronutrient groups.
Carbs: All starchy foods like bread, pasta, and potatoes. Carbs are also found in beans, fruit, juice, sugar, and some dairy products (butter, cheese, cream, milk, yoghurt).
Fats: Butter, cheese, fatty meat, nuts, oils, oily fish, and seeds.
Protein: Beans, dairy, eggs, fish, and meat. Vegetarian alternatives are edamame, lentils, Quorn, tempeh, and tofu.
As you can see, many foods contain more than just one of these macronutrients. But it is important to remember that just how much of each macronutrient you should eat depends upon your lifestyle and objectives, in addition to your individual food preferences and choices. You should monitor what you eat to understand how to start healthy eating.
When trying to lose weight or eat more healthily you will also need to know what micronutrients are. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that your body needs though typically in very small amounts. However, despite only needing them in typically trace amounts they are still critical for your body’s health and well-being and a deficiency in any vitamin or mineral can cause severe and even life-threatening conditions. Vitamins are essential for your body’s energy production, immune function, and other functions. Minerals on the other hand are important for your body’s growth, bone health, fluid balance and many other processes. Below is a brief list of some of the most common micronutrients.
Calcium: An essential component of bones and teeth. Calcium is also an important mineral for your heart, muscles and nervous system. Foods that contain calcium include dairy products, salmon, leafy green vegetables.
Iron: A mineral that carries oxygen in the blood as well as improving your immune system and brain function. Foods that contain iron include red meat, poultry, eggs, fruits and green vegetables.
Magnesium: A mineral that is essential for cellular process such as energy production, a working nervous system and muscle contraction, which is important for exercise. Foods that contain magnesium include spinach, beans, broccoli, seeds and whole wheat bread.
Potassium: A mineral that is essential for helping muscles contract, like magnesium, and help to maintain normal blood pressure by reducing the effect of sodium. Foods that contain potassium include meat, milk, fruits, vegetables, grains and beans.
Vitamins: Vitamins A to K play an important role in every organ and cell in your body.
Foods that contain Vitamin A include beef, eggs, fish, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, mangoes, spinach
Foods that contain Vitamin B include meat, dairy, watermelon, soy milk, fish, banana, beans, leafy green vegetables
Foods that contain Vitamin C include orange, lemon, lime and other citrus fruits, potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes.
Foods that contain Vitamin D include milk, cereals, fatty fish.
Foods that contain Vitamin E include vegetable oils, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts.
Foods that contain Vitamin K include cabbage, eggs, milk, spinach, broccoli.
Every vitamin and mineral is an "essential" nutrient, meaning that you have to get them from your diet to survive. If you eat a well-balanced diet that comprises meat and fresh vegetables and fruit you will get all the micronutrients your body needs without needing a supplement, therefore the quality of the food you eat is just as important as the kinds of food you eat. Good quality food is one of the most important benefits to healthy eating and a key step around how to start healthy eating.
Whole foods is the term used to refer to natural, unprocessed foods. Eating whole foods is a key benefit to healthy eating and consequently very important for your health & well-being. You should eat a minimum of 80 to 90 percent whole foods each day. Whole foods tend to be extremely high in nutrients and have fewer calories and more nutrients per serving than processed foods. Meanwhile, many processed foods have little nutritional value and are often described as "empty" calories. Eating them in big quantities is linked to weight problems and other diseases. Not least due to the excessive sugar and salt that are included in processed foods. Therefore, a key step on how to start eating healthy is increase your whole foods intake and reduce your intake of processed foods.
Vegetables: Most meals should include vegetables. Vegetables are generally low in calories yet full of crucial micronutrients and fibre.
Fruits: Fruits provide micronutrients and antioxidants that can help improve health and well-being.
Meat and fish: Meat and fish are a staple in the human diet, although vegetarian and vegan diets are also very popular in most cultures.
Nuts and seeds: These are one of the very best fat sources and also comprise crucial micronutrients.
Eggs: Considered one of the healthiest foods in the world, eggs contain a combination of proteins, fats and micronutrients. Some people refer to eggs as a protein bomb. You can read more about eggs here.
Dairy: Dairy products such as natural yogurt and milk are excellent sources of protein and calcium.
Healthy starches: Whole food like bread, potatoes, and quinoa are healthy and nutritious. Though these should be avoided if you are following a low-carb diet such as the Keto Diet.
Beans and vegetables: These are an excellent source of fibre, protein and micronutrients.
Drinks: Water should comprise most of your fluid intake, along with beverages like coffee and tea.
Herbs and spices: These are frequently high in nutrients and advantageous plant compounds.
By following the advice above you may have already realised what unhealthy foods should be restricted in your diet. Here is a brief list of some of the most unhealthy foods.
Sugar-based foods: Foods high in sugar, specifically sweet drinks, are linked to weight problems and type II diabetes.
Trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats): Trans fats have been associated with major health conditions such as heart disease and many countries have already banned or are planning to ban these extremely unhealthy fats, read more here.
Refined carbohydrates: Foods that are high in refined carbohydrates are associated with overindulging, weight problems and metabolic illness.
Vegetable oils: While many believe these are healthy, vegetable oils can disrupt your body's omega 6-to-3 balance, which might cause problems.
Processed low-fat foods: Often marketed as healthy alternatives, low-fat foods typically include high levels of sugar to make them more palatable.
Your calorie intake is an essential consideration when trying to lose weight and live more healthily, this is why it is essential to control the size of your food portions as this will lead to eating fewer calories. It is important to clarify that while eating whole foods is beneficial for your overall health and well-being you can still eat too many whole foods, just as you can overeat unhealthy processed foods. Foods like cheese, nuts and fatty meats are healthy, but they are also very calorific meaning that smaller portions are important to maintain or to lose weight.
There are many simple strategies to manage portion size.
If you cannot see yourself on a particular diet in one, two, three years or more then it is probably not the right diet for you. It is common that people start extreme diets that lose weight rapidly; but this is not the right way to develop long-lasting, healthy eating practices. There are some frightening weight gain statistics showing that most people regain all the weight they lost soon after trying a weight reduction diet plan, simply because they did not learn the benefits to healthy eating. Balance and knowledge are key to long-lasting weight loss, maintaining your ideal weight, and is one of the key tips to healthy eating. A diet comprising 90 percent whole foods while eating smaller portions will increase your health and well-being and allow you to have the occasional highly-motivating treat.
Healthy eating is not the only thing that matters for optimal health and well-being.
A healthy diet combined with regular exercise is essential for a healthier life.
Getting enough sleep is just as important as good nutrition and is often overlooked.
It is important to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Reducing stress is important as long-term stress has been shown to be associated with many serious health problems and is an important factor in shortening life.