What Foods Should We Eat to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle?
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If you’re wondering what foods should we eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle, just keep scrolling. We discussed diet and its relation to an active lifestyle. A healthy diet is about finding your measure, eating enough, and consuming nutritious food.
What counts for nutritious food? We’ll go into detail later, but now let’s say that your meal should consist of protein, carbs, fats, minerals, and vitamins in balanced rations. This means that food with too many carbs or too many fats like processed and takeaway food isn’t very nutritious.
A healthy alternative to this is making your food and exploring different recipes. Luckily there are a lot of cooking sites and ideas available online, so we’ve also found nutritious and healthy recipes for you as an example.
We’d to note a few things:
- A healthy diet is an addition to a healthy lifestyle, so you should also be more active. Maybe start running and get into shape? If running isn’t your thing, there are a lot of other cardio activities. You might want to pick up some sport or an active hobby.
- Contrary to popular opinion, a healthy diet doesn’t have to be expensive. You can find lots of fresh ingredients on the farmers’ market or buy items on sale in the supermarkets. You just need to plan your meals and your budget.
What is a healthy diet?
As we said, a healthy diet is about finding a proper balance. You shouldn’t force any strict limitations or deprive yourself of the food you love. All you need to do is learn how to balance and add a lot of healthy foods on the menu.
You don’t have to make complicated dishes to eat healthily. Simple meals that include healthy ingredients can be made in less than 15 minutes. For example, boiling veggies and rice can be enough for a quality meal and it doesn’t take much time.
The key to a healthy diet is replacing processed food with homemade meals. If you know what ingredients you put, you can choose the healthier ones and cut back on something unhealthy, right?
Not all processed food is bad for you but heavily processed food often includes excessive amounts of sugar, sodium, and fat. You can eat processed food once in a while but eating it regularly increases the chance for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Switching to a healthy diet requires a bit of dedication. The most important part is grocery shopping and cooking. If you shop for healthy ingredients, you’re more likely to cook healthier meals. It’s that simple.
Balance and moderation
Moderation means you should eat as much food as your body needs, not more, nor less. You should feel satisfied at the end of the meal and not stuffed. Moderation doesn’t mean eliminating all the unhealthy food options we love. It just means we should limit them. For example, getting pizza for dinner once a week is completely okay, as long as your other meals (breakfast, lunch, snacks) aren’t also unhealthy.
Also, eliminating or “banning” certain foods from your diet is just counterproductive. When you ban something, let’s say pizza, you just strive for it more. Allow yourself to indulge in the food you love occasionally and balance that with adding more healthy options.
The best way to get healthier is, as we said, finding a proper balance in life and, especially, in your diet. We need a balance of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in our diets. Get the healthiest option from each category and you’ll be pretty much covered.
Proteins must be a part of your regular diet whether you get them from animal products or plant-based options. You need proteins for proper metabolism because proteins build enzymes, carriers, or hormones. In a healthy diet, about 15 to 30 percent of your total daily calories should come from protein.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and usually are a large part of people’s diets. However, we should avoid refined carbs and sugar, so we can opt for complex unrefined carbs from vegetables, whole grains, and fruit. Cutting back on white bread, pastries, and starches will help you prevent high blood sugar and blood pressure, so your diet will automatically be healthier. Overall carbs should be more than 60% of your total daily calories.
It’s the same as with carbs – fat is crucial for a balanced diet but not all fat is healthy. While “bad” fats, such as artificial trans fats and saturated fats, are to blame for clogged arteries, high blood pressure, and other health conditions, there are a lot of healthy fats that are vital for your health.
Unsaturated fats and omega-3s, found in fish and nuts, for example, are very beneficial for protecting your brain and heart. They even lessen the risk of cancer, eczema, lupus, arthritis, etc. Overall, fats should be 20-30% with more healthy fats, of course.
Fiber is non-negotiable – you need it in your diet to protect your digestive system and ease bowel movements. Eating high-fiber foods such as grains, fruit, vegetables, and nuts will help you get the negative substances out of your body and lower the risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Minerals and vitamins
The best tip on how to eat healthier is “Never forget about minerals and vitamins”. They are essential nutrients that have hundreds of roles in the body, from regulating the body’s fluids to boosting your immune system. Naturally, you shouldn’t take too many minerals and vitamins, because large doses can lead to health problems. See more about these micronutrients in the video below.
Five essential food groups
Let’s talk about food groups. When we talk about what to eat for a healthy lifestyle, we should focus on eating from each of these groups every day.
Fruits and Veggies
You probably heard that your plate should be colorful. Make half of your plate full of fruits and veggies (depending on the meal of course) and add as much color as you can. Take them as a snack or as a part of dinner, just make sure there’s a lot of them in your diet. Green lettuce, yellow peppers, and red tomatoes for a salad with dinner or blueberries, red strawberries, and yellow banana in your oatmeal for breakfast. It’s not only healthy but delicious!
Whether fresh, frozen, or dried, veggies and fruits are always a good option. Even if you picked canned goods (with low-sodium), you’ll still get nutrients you need. You can also get a blender and start making smoothies and juices instead of buying drinks.
There isn’t only one best advice for a healthy diet. We have a lot of good advice, and the one we’d always repeat is the necessity of whole-grain food. Rice, pasta, and bread make a large part of people’s diet, so you just need to replace them with whole-wheat bread/pasta and brown rice.
Whole-grain products are full of nutrients and fiber, so they keep your body healthy. Keep an eye on all ingredients of your meal. If you use whole-wheat bread and make a sandwich with other unhealthy ingredients you didn’t accomplish that much. Instead, try to make something like this (it will only take 5 minutes, trust us):
Meat, Eggs, and Other protein sources
A lot of people get their proteins from meat, fish, and eggs. However, there are a lot of plant-based options. Tofu, lentils, chickpeas, green peas, and beans are very rich in proteins. You can also get proteins from walnuts, pistachios, almonds, peanuts, etc.
If you’re not a vegan or a vegetarian, you should use both animal and plant protein sources. Choose lean meat and skinless poultry as the healthiest meat option. If you want to know how to eat healthily, start by avoiding deep frying or marinating meat in sauces that are high in sugar and sodium. It’s better if you grill, slow cook, or roast the meat.
You should also eat fish and seafood at least twice a week. Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Try to choose oily fish rich in omega-3 fats like salmon, trout, herring, and sardines, or eat some shellfish such as crab, mussels, and oysters.
When we were younger the answer to the question of what should I eat to stay active all day was always the same – milk products. Even though things are not that simple, it is true that dairy products should be a regular part of our diet.
Try adding milk, yogurt to your breakfast cereal, or use cottage cheese for a sandwich. You should try to use products made of low-fat milk (1%) because they have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients but much fewer calories and saturated fat.
Cutting down on…
One of the most common tips for healthy eating habits revolves around cutting down or limiting the food that’s really unhealthy. That why you should limit the intake of:
As we said, you do need fat in your diet, but you should focus on getting healthy unsaturated fats instead of unhealthy fats. Saturated fat can increase the cholesterol level in the blood, so you’ll be at risk of developing heart disease.
That’s why you should try to limit the consumption of sausages, butter, cream, cakes, pies, and other food rich in saturated fats. A healthier choice is switching to vegetable oil instead of butter for cooking and increasing the amount of fish, avocadoes, and other food with unsaturated fats.
High sugar foods
You don’t have to avoid high sugar foods at all costs but try to limit the amount you consume if you want to start with healthy eating habits. Cut down on soft drinks, biscuits, and sweets that are loaded with sugar. Not only do added sugars cause weight gain, but they can also increase a person’s risk of diabetes, cause tooth decay, etc.
The biggest trap you can fall into is consuming soft drinks. You don’t notice the number of calories and sugar you can with only one glass. This is why our number one tip for a healthy lifestyle is to forget about soft drinks altogether and replace them with lemonade, orange juice, or sparkling water.
Too much salt isn’t good for your health. It increases your blood pressure, which is a risk for developing heart diseases. Naturally processed and takeaway food has lots of salt. Switch to cooking your food, help you keep control of the amount of salt you consume. The recommended amount of salt per day is 5g which is less than a teaspoon, so let that be your limit.
Frequently asked questions
What are the best foods to eat on a diet?
You should always pick healthier options when you can, for example replacing white bread with whole-wheat bread. There are also a lot of healthy food options when you’re dieting such as green veggies, fish, chicken breast, beans, avocados, nuts, etc. Also, eating less processed food is a big achievement on its own because more than half of people’s usual diet is processed food.
What are the 5 healthy eating guidelines?
- Balance and moderation
- Make half your plate vegetables and fruits
- Make half your grains to be whole grains
- Enjoy your food and eat slowly
- Use smaller plates to avoid oversized portions
What are 3 things you should consider when making food choices?
- Making a menu for the entire day (to achieve a balance of nutrients)
- Serving size and calories in one serving
- The total amount of carbs (especially sugar), fat (saturated and unsaturated), and sodium
We tried to give you a small overview of what foods we should eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should naturally continue with your exploration. Find interesting recipes, experiment with healthy food options, and, of course, enjoy your food. You can start by checking out what is the best substitute for caffeine.
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