But where do we start? Take a stroll down the aisle in the supermarket and you will see all types of foods labeled "low-fat" "low-carb" "low- calorie" "fat-free" and "Gluten-free". Flip through a magazine and find an advice column on how to lose weight. Walk into a gym and you are bound to over hear a conversation on how person is trying this diet or product to lose weight verses another. All this comes down to is that nutrition has become a part of the American lifestyle with tons of information out there. So much information in fact trying to figure what information is reliable is a chore and can be stressful in itself.
The answer is really quite simply. Stick with the basics and forget all the crazy diet fads and products out there. Yes, a few diets have their place if suggested by a doctor due to health reasons but the bulk of the diets out there are unnecessary and unhealthy. Going back to the simple art of eating well will help more than anything. Learning the basics when it comes to food and what to put into your body. With the proper spices, recipes and nutritional information you can make any meal healthy and satisfying and full of taste. You can learn the lost art of proper nutrition.
So here are some tips to help you get started to change your eating habits and start living a healthier lifestyle.
1) Know the difference between whole foods and processed foods. A whole food is a food with little or no refining or processing and contains no artificial additives or preservatives. A whole food item is in its natural, or very close to natural, state.
Processed foods are foods that have a list of ingredients that make it taste better and last longer on the shelf. Not all processed foods are bad because that is the way we have preserved some of our whole foods for hundreds of years. The best way to make sure you are eating the best quality of food is to read the ingredients. If you don’t know what something is then don’t buy it. Another good tip is: the more ingredients it has, the more processed and less nutritious it is.
2) Load up on your vegetables and when you do think of the rainbow. At present only 1 of 4 Americans only get the daily serving size of vegetables that are recommend. Simply upping your consumption of vegetables foods packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants helps to lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Not to mention vegetables are very low in calories and takes more energy for you body to digest them than for you to eat them. Make sure you eat vegetables of a variety of colors. The more diverse of color, when it comes to vegetables in your diet, the better!
3) Choose your protein wisely. Stick with lean cuts of meat such as turkey, chicken, fish and lean cuts of beef. If you prefer not to eat meat tofu is a great source of protein along with legumes, lentils and beans. Also take note that more protein is not always better, there is such a thing as too much protein. 3 to 5 oz of any protein source is enough for a meat and fill the rest of your plate with vegetables or healthy starch.
4) Include healthy fats into your diet. Fats are very important for our diet and our bodies function. Healthy fats provide a huge source of energy, help us feel fuller faster, carry fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids , keep our skin and hair looking healthy while protecting our vital organs. The best type of healthy fats come from plants such as olive oil, coconut oil or various other type plant based oils, peanuts, almonds, cashew or any other type of nut or nut butters, avocado and olives. To make sure you get a healthy dose of Omega 3's eat plenty of fish or take some fish oil pills.
5) Make it flavorful. Probably the biggest criticism of “healthy” cooking has been that it is bland or flavorless. It doesn’t have to be. Use plenty of spices, herbs and citrus to make your food taste great. All you have to do is get creative with your cooking try a bit of that and a dash of that and you will be amazed what you will come up with. Not to mention that many of the spices and herbs come with extra healthy benefits of their own.
6) If you want something sweet go for natural sugars. Natural sugars such as fruits and honey rather than anything processed or refined is a lot better and filled with vitamins minerals and fiber all the while satisfying you sweet tooth not to mention considerable lower in calories per serving.
7) Be a savvy shopper. One of the best ways to being a healthier eater is being a smart shopper and the best way to start that is to plan your meals. Concentrate your shopping in the outer sections of most supermarkets produce, seafood, meat and dairy departments where the healthiest and least-processed ingredients tend to be. In the freezer section, head for frozen vegetables and fruits. In the inner aisles, go for whole grains, dried beans, spice and herbs.
8) Learn to read labels. Check the nutrition information and also look at what ingredients are in the product. This goes back to tip 1 when choosing the best processed foods. A general rule: the simpler the ingredient list is to read, the better.
9) Never skip breakfast it's the most important meal of the day. It literally means "break the fast" which translates to kick starting your metabolism, muscles, and mind after an 8 or more hour period of food deprivation. This also means it sets you in the right direction for rest of the meals throughout the day by helping control your blood sugar and sets your body up to better metabolize through out the day and also keeps you from over eating come lunch time or dinner time. Eating breakfast keeps not only keeps you on track with food but with your mood and mind as well. A healthy breakfast keeps a health shape mind and happy mood full of energy. So never skip breakfast.