I love junk food. All those deliciously sticky sweets that are loaded with sugars and calories are so tempting. But let’s be honest. They are not the best of foods. If you want to keep the weight off and stay healthy while having plenty of energy, you have to follow a nutritious diet. I am not talking about diet as in a plan to lose weight. No, we are talking about maintaining a healthy lifestyle with what you eat. In order to be healthy you got to eat healthy. But what is healthy food?
Healthy food is full of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that are essential to growth, repair, and prevention of diseases. Healthy foods contain things like vitamins A,B, and D, zinc, calcium, potassium, iron, fiber, and many complex minerals. The more nutrients you take in, the healthier you will be. If you don’t partake in a balanced diet, then your body will end up being deficient in one or more substances which can affect the way your body performs. If you want to stay healthy, then you need to read the steps below.
The Food Pyramid
A solid healthy diet is made up of the four basic food groups that form what doctors and nutritionists call ‘the food pyramid’. It is called a food pyramid because when all the groups are stacked on top of each other in order of amounts that should be eaten, they form a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is the group for grains and cereals which you should eat the most of. The next level up, which is smaller, is the group for fruits and vegetables. The next smallest group above that are meat and dairy products. And finally at the top of the pyramid is the group that you should eat the least of, fats, salts, and sweets.
Healthy Food Choices
Forget about what some diet plans say about carbohydrates being bad for you. Your body actually needs some carbs. A good source for that is any pasta or baked goods that are made from whole grains. For protein, which is essential, choose lean meats over fatty meats and don’t forget that fish is the best source of protein. Fish contains omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids which is often deficient in most people’s diets. A proper weekly meal plan should include seafood two or three times per week. Stay away from fired meats such as chicken, fish, and country steak.
As for beverages, you should drink plenty of water, milk and 100% fruit and vegetable juices. Limit those sugary drinks and soda. They are nothing but empty calories that will settle on your waistline. Also, too many sugary drinks can be a factor in developing diabetes. If you get tired of plain water, there are lots of different flavored waters to choose from as well as sugar-free flavor packs such as Crystal Light.
Cracks in the ol’ diet armor tend to appear around dessert time. No matter how good they taste, most desserts are not good for you. But being healthy does not mean you have to torture yourself and cut out desserts completely. Moderation is the key. It is okay to have dessert but you don’t need it at every meal and don’t even think about going back for seconds. If you have a hard-to-control sweet tooth, there are some low fat sweets you can eat such as yogurt, low-fat ice cream, fruits, jell-o. I have even seen recipes for low-fat cheesecake. So there are some other options available to you.
Good Snacks Versus Bad Snacks
Snack time can be a difficult time when trying to stick to a healthy diet. It is easy and convenient to just grab a ready made snack such as chips, cookies, or a candy bar. Too much of the wrong kind of snack can lead to health problems such as weight gain, increased levels of cholesterol, low energy, and a lot more. Just because you crave a quick bite in the middle of the day is no excuse to eat a lot of junk food.
An important factor in healthy foods is your lifestyle and eating habits. There are many foods which are okay to eat as long as you don’t over-indulge. Moderation is the key. If you have trouble with this, then it is time to assess your lifestyle. Ask yourself these questions: Do I crave sweets? Are the portions on my plate big? Do I go back for seconds? Do I eat because I am bored or depressed? Do I eat a lot of junk food? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to try to change your eating habits. It can be very difficult to do so try small changes first and work with your habits. You can’t expect to immediately change all of them at once. If you can manage to change them one at a time, then you will be well on the road to eating healthy foods.