Healthy Eating: What is a Healthy Diet

Ben Emanuel II

There are many possible reasons why people don’t eat healthy as they should. From the availability of fast food options to our inability to prepare our food in the kitchen, these are some of the common explanations why people tend to eat unhealthy food.

Our bodies need proper nutrition to function. An unhealthy diet can cause malnutrition. This includes cases of obesity that can lead to developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases to name a few. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get people to eat healthy. In the last 30 years, the rate of obese adults doubled while obese children tripled in numbers. To give you a perspective on how bad the problem is with people's eating habits and lifestyle, nearly 38% of the US population is now obese.

There are many possible reasons why people don’t eat healthy as they should. From the availability of fast food options to our inability to prepare our food in the kitchen, these are some of the common explanations why people tend to eat unhealthy food.

Fundamentals of Healthy Eating

So what does healthy eating mean? Healthy eating can be defined as consuming a variety of foods that can sustain the nutritional requirements of the body. Healthy eating should provide you with enough macro and micronutrients that allow you to feel good and have the necessary energy for daily activities. To get the nutrients that you need, you will have to get your calories from these foods.

Vegetables and Fruits

Fruits and vegetables are a good source of nutrients and minerals. These can be your primary source of vitamin C that can help fight infections in the body. Also, both fruits and vegetables provide the fiber that can help cleanse the body.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 1.7 million deaths worldwide that are attributed to the lack of vegetables and fruits in a person's diet. According to the WHO, adequate fruits and vegetables in a person's diet can help reduce cardiovascular conditions, and stomach and colorectal cancer.

Unprocessed Whole Grains

One of the biggest mistakes is to remove carbohydrates completely from a person’s diet. A lot of fad diets have promoted a very low carb diet and even went as far as doing a no-carb diet. Atkins and Ketogenic Diets are among those that promoted this type of mantra when it comes to carbohydrate consumption. But is it safe? If you'll ask the experts, this is only good for getting short term results.

Glucose is the body’s preferred source of energy. Glucose is even the only thing that fuels the brain. Healthy eating should be composed of a healthy source of carbohydrates. The healthiest sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, and beans.

However, some tend to eat the unhealthy variety of carbs. Refined foods, white bread, and pastries filled with sugar are just some of those food options that we regularly consume and contribute to weight gain. It also promotes conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart conditions if consumed in large quantities regularly.

Protein Source

Protein is a macronutrient that can help repair tissues and build muscles. It is also used to get the body to build enzymes and hormones. A healthy meal should have a healthy source of protein. Fish, eggs, and dairy can deliver protein to your meals. However, you can also meet your protein requirement by adding vegetables to your diet. Sweet corn, asparagus, mushrooms, and broccoli are some of the more popular protein sources for vegetarians.

The amount of protein required differs depending on different factors such as your weight and the type of activities that you do.

Fats

And also, let’s not forget the fats. Fats are the most misunderstood macronutrient that you should never forget in your diet. Fats can play a role in your body functions. Fats can help support cell growth and even in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).

However, what gives fats a bad name are the bad fats. High levels of LDL can contribute to clogging the arteries and increase the risk of a heart attack. Sources of good fats include olives, nuts, and avocados to name a few.

How to Switch to a Healthy Diet

Now that you have an idea of what makes a healthy meal, how do you make the switch? Let's admit that a lot of people know that they should be eating but still fail to transition towards healthy eating.

Start Small

Drastic changes in your diet sometimes feel too overwhelming. What you can do is to make small changes towards healthy eating habits. You can replace an unhealthy food with vegetables and other healthy options while still maintaining majority of your usual meals. Continue to switch the unhealthy foods with healthier options every few weeks. This way, you will be surprised that you are already eating healthy.

Food Diary

Next, you also want to track what you are eating. This way, you can objectively assess your eating habits. You get to figure out which meals you should avoid and even monitor if you are eating too much.

Meal plan

One of the best ways to eat healthy is by preparing your meals for the next days. Some people prepare for the entire week while others prepare their meals for the next 3-4 days. This can help reduce the chances that you are going to buy meals from fast food. Instead, you just pick up the next meal from your fridge and you are ready to go.

Drink lots of water

Drinking soda can be tricky because it gives zero nutritional value to your body. And because of soda’s caffeine content, this can even dehydrate you making you feel the need to drink another glass again. If you are into drinking soda and other sugary drinks, you can avoid this habit by drinking lots of water. You avoid getting thirsty and distance yourself from sugary drinks.

Setting Yourself up for Success

Once you get the hang of eating healthy, it might be a good move to start counting calories as well. This will help you understand whether you are eating the right amount of food or you are under-eating. Finding success in your attempt to switch to a healthier eating habit might take some time. However, you want to take these baby steps and continue pushing towards living a healthy life.