Healthy eating means taking in a variety of foods that provide your body with essential nutrients. It doesn’t have to look a certain way and can accommodate many palates, dietary restrictions and lifestyles.
Find your reason for changing your diet. It could be as simple as wanting more energy or lowering your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a healthy diet is important because it provides your body with the nutrients you need to be strong and feel good. It also helps reduce your risk for certain diseases.
The key to eating healthy is balance, variety and moderation. It’s not about strict diets or banning certain foods. Instead, focus on making small changes you can stick with for life.
Start by filling half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. Choose nonstarchy veggies like broccoli, squash, carrots, mushrooms and leafy greens. Try to avoid adding too much potatoes, as they have a negative effect on blood sugar. Add a quarter plate of whole grains and choose high-fiber foods like oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa. Finally, add lean protein and fats from nuts, seeds and fish.
2. Eat a Variety of Foods
Eating a variety of foods helps ensure that you’re getting enough of each nutrient. It’s also a great way to keep your meals interesting and satisfying.
It’s why health experts recommend focusing on different food groups and choosing from several choices within each group (like whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables). Try to add new items to your diet to help avoid boredom with your healthy eating plan.
Concentrating your diet on a single food group could lead to nutrient overload or deprivation. For example, if you eat too many tuna fish, you might be consuming too much selenium. Similarly, if you only eat processed sugary beverages, you might be missing out on important vitamins and minerals. Eating a wide range of healthy foods can provide your body with everything it needs to stay strong and healthy.
3. Eat Enough
Eating enough is an important part of a healthy diet because it helps to prevent hunger-related diseases and conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
Getting too few calories can actually make it harder to lose weight because the body goes into “starvation mode” and starts to break down lean muscle tissue for energy, Young says.
It’s important to eat enough, but it’s also important to eat healthy foods in moderation. That means limiting the amount of salt, added sugars and saturated fat you eat. Try eating smaller meals more often, like 5-6 small meals a day, and making sure each meal contains protein, carbohydrates and fats.
4. Exercise Regularly
Having a well-balanced diet and regular exercise is essential to healthy living. But getting started can be challenging, especially for people who aren’t used to a lifestyle that includes fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains while limiting foods with added sugar, salt and fat.
The current guidelines for physical activity recommend that adults get about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. Exercise can help prevent health problems, boost energy and reduce stress, and strengthen bones, muscles and joints. It also promotes better sleep and can improve mental health. Start with a few minutes of light exercise, such as a brisk walk, and then gradually increase the amount and intensity of your workouts. It’s important to find an activity that you enjoy, so you’ll stick with it over time.