It’s that time of the year again, when that 4 letter word becomes part of everyone’s vocabulary – DIET!!!! You’re trying to lose the weight you put on over the holidays, or you’re trying to stick with that New Year’s Resolution to lose those 15 pounds you’ve been trying to lose since college. As you prepare for this year’s resolution, you try to figure out which diet you’re going to follow. And there are many out there to choose from – in researching for this post, I did a search on Google and found 578 different diets before I became overwhelmed. Otherwise, I’m sure I would have found many more. So this year as you’re trying to decide if you want to do the old reliable Weight Watchers or try a different cabbage soup diet, I’d like to share with you some healthy eating tips.
Try not to focus on the latest fad diet, but instead focus on developing healthy eating habits. Developing healthy eating habits isn’t as restrictive as you might imagine. The first principle of a healthy diet is to eat a wide variety of foods. This is important because different foods give you different nutrients. The bulk of your calories should come from fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, which are foods high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The rest of your calories should come from low-fat dairy products, lean meat and poultry, and fish. Also, try to maintain a balance between calorie intake and calorie expenditure. In other words, don’t eat more food than your body can utilize.
Following these basic steps doesn’t mean that you have to give up your favorite foods. As long as your diet is balanced and rich in nutrients and fiber, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional ice cream sundae. Just be sure to limit how frequently you eat such foods, and try to eat smaller portions of them.
Basic Guidelines for Developing a Healthy Diet
- Eat plenty of high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. They should supply the 20-30 grams of dietary fiber you need on a daily basis. Dietary fiber slows the absorption of carbohydrates, so there’s less effect on insulin and blood sugar. Such foods also provide important vitamins and minerals.
- Make sure to include green, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, cantaloupe, and citrus fruits. The antioxidants and other nutrients in these foods may help protect against developing certain types of cancer and other diseases. Try to eat 5 or more servings of these a day.
- Limit your intake of sugary foods, refined-grain products such as white bread, and salty snack foods. Many sugary foods are also high in fat, so they’re calorie-dense.
- Cut down on animal fat. It’s rich in saturated fat, which boosts blood cholesterol levels and has other adverse health effects. Choose lean meats, skinless poultry, and nonfat or low-fat or nonfat dairy products.
- Cut down on trans fats, supplied by hydrogenated vegetable oils used in most processed foods.
- Eat more fish and nuts, which contain healthy unsaturated fats. Substitute olive or canola oil for butter or stick margarine.
- Keep portions moderate, especially of high-calorie foods. In recent years serving sizes have ballooned, particularly in restaurants. Split a dish with a friend or take home half of the portion in a doggie bag, and don’t order supersized anything.
- Eat a variety of foods. Don’t try to fill your nutrient requirements by eating the same food day in and day out. Eating a wide assortment of foods helps to ensure that you will get all the necessary nutrients.
- Try to get your vitamins and minerals from foods, not from supplements. Supplements cannot substitute for a healthy diet, which supplies nutrients and other compounds besides vitamins and minerals. Foods also provide the “synergy” that many nutrients require to be efficiently used in the body.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. That is one drink a day for women, two a day for men. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits. Excess alcohol consumption leads to a variety of health problems. And alcoholic beverages can add many calories to your diet without supplying nutrients.