Doctors, health buffs, the media, teachers and health-conscious parents tout the benefits of good nutrition. Who can blame them when your health depends on good nutrition? However, it is better said than done. Obesity is a huge problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research in 2013-2014 and released in November 2015, 36% of American adults are obese, with women outranking men by about 4%.
A balanced diet should include protein sources, dairy, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. But many still opt to eat fast foods, packaged snacks, sweets and salty and fatty food rather than fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish. The best way to improve nutrition is to improve your eating habits.
Start slow until you get used to it. Pretty soon you’ll notice that you are eating right and snacking on good stuff that are easy to prepare and chock-full of goodness, instead of reaching for a bag of chips or an order of burger and fries.
Ways to eat right
- Determine what your goal is. Do you want to maintain, gain or lose weight? Consult a health professional so you can have a safe eating plan and calorie goal for losing weight. A wellness coach, a fitness professional or a dietitian will be able to help you reach your desired goal.
- Keep food portion to a recommended amount. Plan how much food you should eat daily to satisfy the required calories from a combination of grains, protein, vegetables and fruits.
- Include more low-fat dairy products, lean proteins, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Make these foods the basis for all your snacks and meals as well.
- Increase your fiber intake by having more vegetables and fruits in your meals. You get more phytochemicals, minerals and most of the important vitamins from them. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain very little fat and cholesterol. The fibers they contain help with digestion. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits are known to lower blood sugar, prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol levels.
- Add more whole grains in your daily grain intake, to increase your source of fiber and energy. Be sure to read the labels of food you buy so you’ll know which ones are made from whole grains such as oats, quinoa, rye, sorghum, corn and millet.
- Protein foods usually come from animal and plant sources. Seeds, nuts, soy products, peas and beans are plant-based proteins. Dairy products, eggs, seafood, poultry and meat are protein foods from animals. Whenever possible, choose protein sources that are leaner.
- It is all right to eat less healthy foods once in a while. But it is better to cut back on them as they are high in solid or trans fats and saturated fats, as well as salt and sugar. Satisfy your craving for sweetened drinks, candy, ice cream, cookies and processed meats by eating them occasionally and in small portion/serving only.
- Most of the food you eat already contain salt so you do not need added salt in your diet. Limit the occasion to have food high in sodium content such as frozen, packaged and canned foods. If it is unavoidable, make sure to buy those versions that are lower in sodium content.
- Sweetened drinks are high in calories and sugar. Instead of drinking sports and energy drinks, sweetened juice and soda, drink more water. Look for unsweetened drinks as well so you can reduce the added calories and sugars in your diet.
It is difficult to change eating habits. Set a goal for a healthier you. Start a plan to improve your nutrition will surely pave a way to improve your diet and satisfy your daily nutrition needs.