As a Dietitian, I get asked this question ALL the time. And I always find it difficult to answer within the time allotted; I have usually just met this person and am in passing. “Do you have a couple hours?” I want to answer.
I always have a few go-to healthy eating suggestions like, start your day off with a nutritious breakfast; try to eat at least two fruits and three vegetables a day; and avoid pre-packaged, processed foods. But a few tips about how to eat healthy doesn’t even come close to scratching the surface of answering such a convoluted question.
So let me begin by first mentioning that there is no single, specific diet deemed the “healthiest” diet (although I believe the Mediterranean diet to come pretty close). Raw, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Intermittent Fasting, South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers, NutriSystem; they each have some sort of healthy component designed to help with weight loss, but they aren’t sustainable and they don’t teach their followers the true art of healthy eating. The rigorous structure and the restrictive nature of these diets prevents their followers from sticking with it long-term and we see that these diets don’t “work” time and time again. Additionally, some of these diets (paleo, gluten-free, fasting) leave out major nutrient groups that are essential to human health.
What about vegan and vegetarian diets? When executed properly (which can be difficult to do on a daily basis), they can be part of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, recent research demonstrates that vegetarian diets confer protection against cardiovascular diseases, some cancers and total mortality. And vegan diets seem to offer additional protection for obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular mortality. Good stuff.
Sustaining healthy eating habits over the lifespan is the healthiest diet.
In order to do this, one must value their health enough to put forth the effort and muster up the will power it takes to make healthy choices day in and day out. Yes, it is difficult at first. But once you have established the habits, they will come as second nature. We are creatures of habit – good and bad – so look at this in the most positive light possible.
I found this article which fully explains 10 great healthy eating tips. If you’re interested in starting to eat healthier or you’ve fallen off the healthy eating bandwagon and need to jump back on, these tips are worth the consideration.
Healthy eating is not about strict nutrition philosophies, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, stabilizing your mood, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible.
If you’re ready to start eating healthier, take it slow and achieve one goal at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are a whole slew of healthy eating behaviors. Pick one habit and work to achieve and maintain it for several weeks; until it becomes second nature.
What is one healthy habit you want to work on this week? Please, share your thoughts!