|There are a lot of opinions, many of them conflicting, about what a healthy diet consists of. If you need some confirmation of this just Google “diets” and see what comes up.|
The simplest definition would be to eat the right amount of a wide variety of whole foods from different groups in the right proportions. Actually, that sounds kind of complicated, so let’s break it down a little bit. You need to eat the right amount of food. This generally means less than what most people consume on the traditional western diet. You also need to choose a variety of foods from different food groups, because no one or two types of food have all the nutrition needed to maintain a healthy body. You also need to eat the right proportions of foods from these different groups, as nutrition is spread out through all of the types of food.
Healthy food groups include: foods high in fiber, whole grains, proteins, and carbohydrates from natural sources. Good choices from these food groups include fruits, vegetables, oils, dairy products (low fat milk, yogurt and cheese), natural sugars (not refined or high fructose corn syrup), lean meats, fish and poultry.
The western diet tends to put too big of an emphasis on protein from animal sources. A healthier diet would emphasize a balance of protein from grains and legumes (beans, peas, lentils) as well as animal sources.
You should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Include fruit with breakfast, salad with your lunch and vegetables with dinner.
Notice that processed foods are not mentioned as a good choice for a healthy diet. Pre-packaged, processed foods are generally stripped of about 80% of their nutrients and flavor, which are replaced with salt, sugars and other additives. These types of foods will fill you up for only a short period of time and leave you hungry again in a few hours. This will lead to weight gain because you are eating more calories than your body needs, and they're not even healthy calories.
|The easiest way to avoid these unhealthy food choices is to eat more whole foods. Whole foods have very few ingredients, if not just one.|
Products that have more than five ingredients, or have ingredients that you can’t pronounce, probably fit in the processed food category. Now, all this healthy food you are going to be eating has to taste good. If you don’t know how to cook, or don't cook very much, you really should learn to. Between the internet and videos it really shouldn’t take long to learn the basics. It’s actually fun once you get the hang of it. It’s also much cheaper than take-out or pre-packaged, processed food. Research some simple recipes. Simple doesn’t have to mean it won’t taste good. Experiment with different herbs and spices for flavor rather than salt.
|Eating all these healthy foods is going to give you more energy too, which is good because a healthy diet also includes exercise. Walk whenever you can, take the stairs rather than the elevator if you’re not going above the 4th floor (lets try to be real here). Join a gym if you can afford to.|
Just make sure that you increase your physical activity level for at least 30 minutes per day. Most people don’t get anywhere near the amount of exercise that they need to avoid weight gain and maintain a healthy body.
So, what is a healthy diet? It is a way of life that involves eating more whole foods from healthy food groups, in moderation, and increasing your physical activity.