From health books to your social media news feed, healthy eating is trending everywhere.
Both fitness experts and enthusiasts are following this trend.
But what is healthy eating and how it helps?
Let’s find out.
Some people think of it as avoiding anything artificial. To others, it’s about adding lots of fruits and vegetables to their diet.
To me – healthy eating is eating wholesome and less processed food that is; and eating food that is close to its natural state, most of the time. It means adding vegetables, fruits, high-quality carbohydrates, grains, good quality proteins and healthy fats like nuts and avocados to your diet.
Healthy eating is a lifestyle.
It’s a step by step process of improving the quality of food that we eat. It also calls for not giving in to cravings and mood swings that often come with processed nutrient void food.
You need not be a vegan or vegetarian to be healthy, though being one doesn’t hurt. You just need to be willing to make necessary lifestyle changes to your eating pattern.
Do you want to start with healthy eating?
If you do, then following five point plan should help you get started.
Cook More Often
Cooking your own food is the easiest way to ensure you are eating healthy because then you have full control on what you are putting in your food.
Food is much more than something that tastes good. It is about the nutrients it has. It is about how it nourishes you. Mindless binging and emotional eating can cause unhealthy weight gain. When you prepare your own food you are more aware of what you are eating, and are less likely to put harmful ingredients in it.
Learn To Read Your Labels
By reading food labels and understanding them, you get a good sense of what you are putting in your body. You can read food labels and compare one food with another, to limit your intake of sugar, fat and cholesterol.
If you do not know much about reading labels, then stick to foods that have five ingredients or less, each of which you can read, recognize and pronounce.
Avoid Highly Processed Food
Let’s understand a fact first. Almost all of the healthy foods that we eat are “slightly processed”. Because if your food is not coming straight from the farm, it has to go through some processing. Food products such as oats and quinoa are always slightly processed.
With this understanding, you should avoid foods that are highly processed. The more food is processed outside your body, the less nutritious it will be for the body.
To identify the degree of processing of a particular food item, just look up the ingredient list. Chances are that the items with a long ingredient list are highly processed foods.
Let’s have a look at the packing of one highly processed food item. See how the ingredients list looks in the picture below. Does it even look like the ingredient list of some edible item?
By looking at this ingredient list, anyone can be sure that this food item is made of highly refined ingredients and artificial chemicals. And there is very less actual food in there.
Healthy eating is avoiding such food.
Avoid Artificial Flavours And Sweeteners
Good to avoid anything that is not real, and is made in a factory. Artificial flavours and sweeteners like saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose come in this category. Such flavors and sweeteners are designed to bypass the logical part of the brain and trigger all the pleasure points. Studies have shown that food containing artificial flavours and sweeteners triggers the pleasure point inside the brain that gets the body to crave even more of such sweetness and flavors.
Aim For Macronutrient Balance
Macronutrients are proteins, carbs and fats. You must pay attention to macronutrients intake in your everyday food. If we don’t do it, we may end up adding highly processed carbs and neglect adding healthy fats to our diet. Make sure you are eating a diet that consists of enough proteins, healthy fats and quality carbohydrates as it can give you keep you energetic and feeling full for a long period of time.
Wondering why do we need these macronutrients?
Here is why?
Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. Proteins are important for growth, immune function and making essential hormones and enzymes. They also provide energy when carbohydrates are not available. Healthy fats such as avocados, ghee or clarified butter, coconut oil, olive oil and omega 3 fatty acids help in absorbing vitamins, provide cushioning to the organs and enhance the taste of the food.
It may not be easy for you to completely eliminate the unhealthy packaged food options from our diet but it is worth a sincere try. If you are able to stick to it then results will be yours to see. As shared in the beginning, look at it as a lifestyle shift and enjoy the process of doing it; and chances are that you’ll be able to stick to it.
Healthy eating is all about food that gives your body energy, makes it strong and keeps it disease free.
Food could be your safest medicine or slowest poison. Which one will you pick?