Image Source: Unsplash
The way we eat has changed dramatically over the past few decades. The rise of fast food and processed foods, as well as increased access to affordable, ready-to-eat meals, have all contributed to a culture where convenient and cheap has trumped healthy and wholesome. Today’s diet is heavily skewed towards high intakes of fats, sugars and carbohydrates with low amounts of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. This means that there are many things you should know about eating healthily in order to reverse some of the negative effects this has had on your body. Eating a balanced diet is key to leading a happy and healthy life. The first step is understanding what specific foods you should be eating more or less of in order to achieve this. With that said, here are some things you need to know about eating well if you want to improve your diet and overall health…
Know the difference between fats, carbs and protein.
The first thing to know is the difference between fats, carbs and protein. They are the three macronutrients that our bodies need the most of, and they are found in all foods. Fats are the most energy dense macronutrient, followed by carbs and then protein. Fats are essential for a healthy diet and can be found in foods such as nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, meat and dairy products. The current daily value for fats as recommended by the USDA is 65 grams per day while the USDA recommends keeping saturated fat below 10% of your total daily calories. A good fat to get in your diet is monounsaturated fat which is found in nuts, avocado, olive oil and peanut oil. Carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy, and are found in grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Whole grains are rich in B vitamins, minerals and fibre. The current daily value for carbs is 50 grams per day. One of the most common mistakes people make when eating a healthy diet is to avoid eating carbs altogether. Eating too few carbs can actually cause your body to store fat as a backup source of energy, which can be problematic if you want to stay lean. Protein is a key component of cells, tissues and muscles. It is also a source of essential amino acids that are important for a healthy metabolism. The current daily value for protein is 45 grams per day.
Don’t fear the fats.
Fats are a necessary and healthy part of a balanced diet. The key is to select the right types of fats and to keep your total intake at a healthy level. Fats are a great way to get a boost of energy, keep you feeling full longer, regulate your hormones and even help protect your skin. Fatty acids are broken down into essential fats that our bodies cannot produce on their own and non-essential fats. Unsaturated fats are considered essential fats that are found in salmon, avocados, nuts, seeds and olives. Saturated fats are non-essential fats and are the main culprits in leading people to eat too much fat. They are found in red meat, cheese, butter and ice cream. Try to avoid these foods, and focus on eating more plant-based fats to get a healthy amount of fat in your diet.
Whole grains are always a good choice.
Whole grains are rich in B vitamins, iron, zinc and fibre. They take longer to digest than refined grains, which means you will feel fuller for longer and have more energy. In fact, a study of 1,000 people found that participants who ate the most whole grains had a 50% lower risk of heart disease. Whole grains include oats, whole wheat, rye, barley and brown rice.
The best sources of protein are fish and eggs.
Fish and eggs are rich in essential amino acids and minerals that are good for your health. Fish is particularly good as it is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which help to prevent heart disease, joint pain and even improve your vision. Fish also contains vitamin B12 which is essential for healthy red blood cells and cognitive function. Eggs are a great source of protein and are also rich in vitamin B12 and B6 which are necessary for converting food into energy.
Eat your veggies!
Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. They are one of the best sources of vitamins A and C, as well as iron. Vegetables are also very low in calories and rich in water, meaning that one serving is enough to fill you up and hydrate your body. Vegetables are also extremely versatile and can be eaten as a side dish, as a salad, added to a sandwich or as a main dish.
Be wary of processed foods.
Processed foods are ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook foods that have been modified with additives and preservatives to increase their shelf life. Processed foods often contain high amounts of refined sugars and unhealthy fats and are nutritionally inferior to their unprocessed counterparts. Whole grains are better for you than refined grains, processed foods are better for you than fat, but eating both is better than eating neither. Eating unprocessed, wholesome foods is the best way to get the nutrients your body needs and to feel good both inside and out. Ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook foods may be convenient, but they come at a cost to your health. It’s best to avoid processed foods as much as possible in order to get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
Eating a balanced diet will help you get all the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. Eating a balanced diet can be tricky, but it is well worth the effort! Eating the right foods will help you stay fit, boost your energy levels and keep you feeling great. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or bland, so don’t be afraid to be creative with your meals. With these tips, eating well will be easier than ever before.