It really does take a lot of discipline and self-control to get on the path of healthy eating, but the rewards are extremely life-changing and beneficial.
As we grow older, we often take for granted the importance of proper nutrition especially by way of the food we eat daily. Many rely on medicine and supplements to address deficiencies in vitamins and minerals in the body, but by simply changing our lifestyle and the way we take our everyday meals can spell a big difference in improving our overall health and well-being.
One of the biggest benefits of maintaining a healthy diet is keeping your ideal weight, as well as preventing fatal noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Eating right also makes the body more energetic, allowing you to be more productive throughout the day and to enjoy life better.
The key to a balanced diet is being able to take in all the nutrients that the adult human body requires but without exceeding the recommended daily calorie intake, so as to avoid being overweight or obese. This is the challenge that many adults face, but it is actually attainable through deliberate and proper planning of your meals and snacks.
Traditionally, experts have advised to follow the food pyramid which indicates recommended sizing portions for certain types of food—with minimum fats, oils and sweets; followed by dairy and meats; and with vegetables, fruits and carbohydrates comprising the base of the pyramid or the most consumption allowed.
In recent years, this has been replaced by a food guide that prescribes balanced portions for each of five food groups, which are: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein and dairy. According to the US Department of Agriculture, half of your plate should contain grains and protein, while the other half should be made up of fruits and vegetables. Each meals should ideally be accompanied with a serving of dairy or other sources of similar nutrients found in them.
Vegetables not only mean the usual leafy greens that we are all familiar with, but legumes (beans and peas), brightly colored (red and orange) vegetables, as well as starchy veggies and others like eggplants. In terms of fruit intake, it is better to consume fresh fruits as opposed to juices. As for grains, whole ones like brown rice, quinoa and oats are better for their added fiber and protein content compared to the traditional white rice.
Healthy and nutritious choices for protein are lean cuts of beef and pork, white meat of chicken and turkey, as well as most fish especially those rich in heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon. Low-fat varieties of dairy and milk are preferable over whole milk, and if you are lactose-intolerant, there are many other alternative milk sources in the market today such as soy, almond, coconut and many others.
The average adult requires around 2,000 calories per day in order to maintain a stable weight, but this may vary depending on your age, sex and level of physical activity and mobility. This is important to keep in mind because calorie intake should also not exceed the amount that you are able to burn off from exercise or usual daily tasks in order to avoid being overweight.
It really does take a lot of discipline and self-control to get on the path of healthy eating, but the rewards are extremely life-changing and beneficial. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and in this case, eating healthy is way better than facing the consequences of diseases and debilitating health conditions due to lack of nutrients and excessive calories.
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Food pyramid (nutrition) [Internet]. Wikipedia. 2020 [cited 10 July 2020]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_pyramid_(nutrition)
Healthy diet [Internet]. World Health Organization. 2020 [cited 10 July 2020]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet