What is on your plate?
Naturally, we desire to eat healthily. To nurture our body with the nourishment it needs and to feel great. However, figuring out how to eat healthier, is not always obvious. According to the health experts, the “diet culture” continues to distort us by often pushing restriction and prescriptive rules that neglect the personal, cultural, and socioeconomic factors that influence what a healthy diet looks like for any one individual. If you are a little lost on how to eat healthily the Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises us to embrace the basics of healthy eating while engaging in physical exercise.
Why is a balanced diet important?
A balanced diet supplies the nutrients your body needs to work effectively. Without balanced nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and low performance. Some of the components of a balanced diet include fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and oils, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water.
- Fruits and vegetables. They are nutritious and make a tasty snack or dessert. Eat such produce while in the season as they are fresher and provide more nutrients than imports. They boost the body’s supply of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Healthy fats and oils. Some part of our energy requirement is fulfilled by fats. Too much fat can increase calories above what the body needs and may lead to weight gain. Appreciate vegetable oils and fish oils and limit butter, cheese, and heavy cream. Above all, lose trans fats; they are used in many processed and premade food.
- Proteins. We need proteins for growth purposes and to repair the wear and tear of the body. They are found in dairy products, meat, eggs, chicken, beans, peas, etc. For those following a vegan diet, alternatives are now available.
- Carbohydrates. They provide us with energy. Carbohydrates can be found in rice, wheat, chapatti, bread, pasta, etc. Learn to eat less processed food and more whole grain as they provide additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It also adds texture to your dish.
Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite indulgence foods. The key is eating them only occasionally and balancing them with healthier foods and physical activity. Some tips for comfort foods are: to eat them less often, eat smaller amounts, use less processed ingredients, or prepare food differently. For example, bake with whole wheat and incorporate fruits in your baking. And yes, fresh fruit produces natural sugar that can satisfy any sweet tooth.
It is important to cultivate a more enjoyable and fulfilling relationship with your food. Take the tips that speak to you and add them to your very own one-of-a-kind healthy eating toolbox. A healthy diet will combine all the nutrients and food groups, but you need to balance them, too. A handy way to remember is to use the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) “ChooseMyPlate” initiative that recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with grains, one quarter with protein foods. Do not forget a glass of water, it will help bring it all down.
This article was written by Annete Karanja.
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