As the years go by and the human race evolves to fit into the niche that we have created for ourselves, there is perhaps one area where we still have to live according to the dictates of nature; diet.
It doesn’t matter that we have put men on the moon, or that we have developed technology to take us to places faster than the speed of sound. It does not signify that we have built robot cars or found cures for pandemics; with diet, what you eat is what you are.
From time immemorial, people have observed the relationship between food and healthy living but what it means to actually eat healthy has remained unclear. Some pundits advise a trendy ketogenic diet, which requires that you stay away from food products like sweet potatoes and imbibe more foods like cheese.
Other pundits swear that you’d be healthy as long as you avoid complex carbohydrates, and others still claim that all you need to do in order to be healthy is avoid gluten.
While all these pieces of dietary advice represent fragments of the truth, it is evident that they are often contradictory, and always very difficult to implement. If you really need to follow a healthy diet, you need something that is simple, non-contradictory, and above all, non-restrictive.
That’s why this article was compiled.
How to Differentiate Healthy and Unhealthy Eating
Contrary to popular belief, unhealthy eating doesn’t just represent anything that tastes good. It is possible to eat foods that are extremely tasty, while remaining super healthy.
One handy tip that I’ve found that stands up to real life testing is this: foods that are processed as little as possible are generally always better for you. Food processing removes healthy fiber, and adds sugars as well as preservatives which are not good for you.
A logical extension of this policy means that a plant-based eating system will generally be healthier, as they typically undergo less processing than other food sources.
This has been backed up by science, as research has shown that people who follow plant-based diets have significantly lower rates of cardiovascular and endocrine diseases compared to meat eaters.
As a matter of fact, the American Heart Association found that there was a stunning 16 percent reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular diseases in people who consume an exclusively plant-based diet. A bulk of this benefit can be attributed to the increased amount of fiber and nutrients like potassium, as well as reduced amounts of saturated facts.
You don’t have to restrict your diet to just plants in order to reap these healthy benefits; you can experiment with a vegan lifestyle which means that you avoid animal products, or a flexitarian lifestyle which means that you just east vegetarian most of the time, with the possibility of a decadent meal every once in a while.
Whichever path you take, it is important to understand that the diet you choose does not matter as much as your commitment to it. This means that it is always beneficial to shift your focus from the (often tasty) things you can’t eat, to the new, exciting and above all healthy foods that will help you live a better life.
Why Should You Eat Healthy?
Amidst a veritable storm of information pertaining to why you should choose one particular class of food over another, it is easy to forget that one important question. Why?
Why should I choose healthier foods over a more visually appealing and easy to prepare burger? Why should I skip the line at the fast food to prepare a relatively more expensive, and a relatively less tasty fruit smoothie?
Well, for people like me who care about the length and quality of life, the answers are quite simple.
You’ll Be Healthier
It is pretty much common knowledge nowadays that we are in the midst of an obesity pandemic. In the United States, rising rates of morbidity and mortality from chronic medical conditions have been directly correlated to poor eating habits.
Poor eating habits exacerbate damage done by smoking, alcohol use, and sedentary lifestyles, leaving the individual prone to death from a range of avoidable diseases.
Better Mental Health
Your choice of food doesn’t just change your weight, it also affects your mental health.
Studies studies shown that healthier diets — with high amounts of vitamins and minerals — have been associated with lower risk of mental health disorders including anxiety, depression, and ADHD.
Your weight loss journey primarily revolves around your food choices. Eating the right type, and the right amounts of food, can help ensure that you stay in tip-top shape for the rest of your life.
Eating right can help you avoid a number of illnesses including coronary heart diseases, diabetes and hypertension.
How To Eat Healthy
Eating healthy means more than just worrying about your food choices. It is the deliberate development of a habit that avoids emotional eating, and integrates portion control and component selection into meal planning.
You can start your journey towards healthy eating by adhering to the following guidelines.
Plan In Detail
It is important to map out your dietary journey; develop a concrete and practical plan of action about the meals you need to have and those you intend to skip.
Don’t forget to take note of the food classes you want and any possible replacements if they become unavailable.
Pack A Healthy Lunch
In addition to saving costs, packing a healthy lunch gives you the ability to control what you eat. You can choose to make use of leftovers from the previous night, or include a specific food type in your meal, all at the price of approximately zero added cost.
Avoid Unhealthy Foods
No, really. Keep them out of your sight. We know the spirit but the flesh is often weak, so it is probably for the best that you do not come across tasty, decadent yet ultimately unhealthy foods as you start your fitness journey.
Make a shopping list filled with veggies and fruits, keep your eyes averted as you pass by the fast food store. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
One lesson that is often ignored in most fitness pages is forgiveness. Change is often difficult and anyone can make mistakes.
If you happen to fall off the wagon, dust yourself off, acknowledge your mistake and try again
Start a Food Diary
As cliche as it may sound, a food diary actually helps you keep track of your fitness journey.
A? food diary will help you understand the food choices you make, and give you much needed insight on how to tweak your diet to suit your own specific needs.
Drawing a link between good or bad dietary choices and the events that inspired is often the first step that precedes your commitment to be a stronger, healthier you.