Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health; feel good and have energy. A balanced diet is a diet that contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre in the right proportions.
Benefits of a Healthy Diet include:
One of the main reasons for being overweight is a poor diet. Eating healthy will lead to a natural reduction of weight; since fast foods, animal fats and sugary foods, will most likely be eliminated (or at least reduced) in the diet. Also, eating healthy will lead to slow and steady weight loss in overweight individuals. People who eat healthy foods rarely need to go on a diet and can enjoy their favourite treats once in a while, without repercussions.
A poor diet often leads to fatigue. Those who abuse carbohydrates, for example, will find that they need to keep consuming them in order to get over a mid-afternoon slump. On the other hand, eating a balanced diet can keep the muscles in top shape, allowing for longer workouts, better concentration and a general "alive" feeling. Eating unhealthy food forces the body to work harder to digest food, resulting in a loss of energy.
Healthy eating has the major advantage of helping prevent a myriad of diseases. Heart disease is mostly diet-related, so changing the way you eat will lead to lower blood pressure, less cholesterol and more efficient heart pumping. A healthy diet will also reduce the load on the digestive systems, lowering the chances for liver problems and kidney disease. Diabetes is also closely related to diet, and can both be prevented and treated with a change in eating habits.
A healthy diet is full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that will naturally clean toxins out of the body, and help slow down the aging process. As a result, wrinkles are less obvious, cellulite disappears, and skin is smoother. While exercise also plays an important part in the look and feel of the skin, it all starts with consuming more natural and less processed foods, as well as avoiding meals with high sugar and fat content.
Sleep is directly affected by the way you eat, how much and when. Heavy foods, as well as those loaded with sugars, can lead to insomnia, uneven sleep (waking up throughout the night), and even sleep apnoea (inability to breath during sleep) in the case of severely overweight people. Eating smaller portions throughout the day, and staying away from heavy, high-fat foods will reduce the load of the digestive system, the heart and the lungs, allowing a more restful, deeper sleep.
Healthy Eating Tips
- Avoid processed foods as much as possible as they are deficient in the nutrients that are naturally abundant in fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Reduce your intake of red meat, white meat like fish and chicken (with skin removed) are healthier alternatives.
- Avoid carbonated and other sweetened soft drinks as they are loaded with sugar and preservatives.
- Reduce your alcohol intake.
- Reduce your salt intake and avoid the habit of adding table salt to your already cooked meals. A high salt intake can contribute to the development of hypertension.
- Avoid fried foods and if you must fry your foods ensure you use healthy cooking oils like olive oil, canola oil and sunflower seed oil. Though they are more expensive they are less likely to increase blood cholesterol levels.
- Wheat bread and bran products are good substitutes for white bread and other baked meals. They contain probiotics which means they have natural antibiotic properties. They also reduce blood cholesterol levels and help prevent stroke.
- Try to incorporate at least two servings of fruits and vegetables into your meals daily. Remember the saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples contain flavinoids and polyphenols (both powerful antioxidants) that help the body to fight diseases. Regular intake can also help lower cholesterol and prevent skin diseases.
- Drink at least 2 litres (approximately 8 glasses) of water daily because a sufficient daily water intake helps to combat dehydration which saps energy, causes fatigue and reduces concentration.
Most importantly always remember that moderation is the key especially as we enter into this festive season where we will be tempted with all kinds of “goodies”. Eating well does not translate to eating right.