What is a Healthy Diet?
It’s saddening to understand one-in-three people in the United States exhibit some form of obesity or are overweight. This means they are not taking a healthy diet. Unfortunately, most people assume a healthy diet means strict food limitation. For others, a healthy diet features costly food options and supplements that are not readily available. Well, this is not what healthy dieting is all about. It doesn’t have to be this intricate. Though you have to restrict your food intake, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Additionally, you don’t have to spend so much money to enjoy a healthy diet.
What the WHO Says About a Healthy Diet
According to the World Health Organization, a healthy diet features different foods that are taken in moderation. In particular, the WHO recommends the following options:
- Starch – Starch is a broad term that includes cereals (like rice, maize, and wheat) and tubers (like cassava, potatoes, and yams). Starch is the primary energy provider. The WHO, however, advises on cutting back on starch consumption as it could skyrocket your blood sugar and may easily cause weight gain.
- Fruits and vegetables – The WHO recommends taking fruits and vegetables in plenty as they are a vital source of antioxidants, mineral salts, and vitamins. These nutrients are associated with defensive functions in the body such as protection against heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Fruits and vegetables also contain fibers that you need for your digestion, heart health, and skin health.
- Animal protein – The WHO recommends healthy animal protein sources like lean meat, milk, and eggs. Fish also falls in this category. Animal protein generally repairs the body, especially after an injury. It’s also important in building muscles and bones. There are also suggestions that it could promote a better mood while enhancing cognitive functions.
- Legumes – Here, the WHO emphasizes beans, peas, soya beans, and lentils. Legumes are rich in fibers, vitamins, and proteins. So, you can use them to replace meat. They promote better heart functions and can offer protection against cancer.
The WHO does not advise against fats, sugars, and salts entirely. However, they vouch for a lower intake. Excessive fat, for example, could trigger a heart attack or stroke. The WHO recommends unsaturated oils of vegetable origin such as corn oil, sunflower oil, and olive oil. Such oils reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues.
Concerning sugars, the WHO recommends less than 10% of your daily energy needs. Simply, what the WHO is suggesting is that you limit taking high sugars. Lastly, the WHO advises against taking too much sodium salts. This also means going slow on fish sauces as it is high in sodium.
What about Infants?
For infants, the WHO emphasizes healthy breastfeeding. According to them, a newborn should be breastfed exclusively until 6 months. At 6 months, you can introduce healthy complementary foods to the baby. You are allowed to continue breastfeeding the little one up to 2 years.
Steps to Healthy Dieting
Having looked at what a healthy diet is and the kind of foods you should eat, it’s important to know how to go about it. You need an effective guide that you can follow. To get started, here are 8 key steps to observe:
- Take 100% Whole Grain
You need to cut on refined grains if you are looking to eat healthily. This means clearing white bread, white rice, and refined wheat from your pantry. You should replace them with whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. The problem with refined grains is that they lack important fibers, phytochemicals, and vitamins that you need to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, cancer, and diabetes. These nutrients are readily available in whole grains.
- Prepare Your Meals More Often
The way restaurants prepare foods that they claim to be healthy is not the same way you would prepare the same food. When making food at home, you are normally extra cautious. You ensure that the utensils are clean and that the vegetables are washed properly. You also ensure that ingredients are used in moderation. According to research, this can help fight weight gain.
- Assume the Bird Complex
A bird is a small creature that always takes small portions. You can assume this complex as it can help instill discipline to your dieting. Whether you eat at home or dine out, you should learn to take small options. The moment you get used to the idea, it becomes easy to manage your weight.
- Look at the Food Labels
The only way you can ascertain the content of what you are consuming is by reading the food labels. This is more important if you are buying prepackaged foods from the store. Some brands will argue that their foods are healthy, only to discover that they are loaded with preservatives and artificial flavors. You also need to take note of the added sugars.
- Take More Water
Are you aware that drinking water is an essential part of healthy dieting? Studies have shown that drinking water can help in weight loss. It helps to manage your appetite and this means you are not forced to overeat. Furthermore, water is important in washing toxins off the body.
- Skip Sweetened Beverages
If you have to take a drink that’s not pure water, then you should go for sugar-free options like sparkling water. Sugary beverages like fruit juices and sodas are heavily loaded with sugars. This makes them a potential risk of issues like diabetes and obesity. Switching to sugar-free beverages will reduce your sugar intake by a significant margin.
- Go for Fresh
The simplest way to avoid processed foods is going for fresh options. If what you want are fruits or vegetables, shop for what’s fresh in the market. The same goes for meat. Fresh foods are normally packed with viable nutrients that are very healthy. Unlike processed options, fresh foods do not come with artificial additives.
- More Potassium, Less Sodium
As earlier mentioned, sodium is a risk for cardiovascular issues. The salt can easily cause your blood pressure to rise and may trigger a stroke. Thus, you should limit its intake. One way to do it is to take more potassium. Potassium can counteract the effect of sodium. While sodium is mostly found in processed foods, potassium is present in natural options like bananas, sweet potatoes, and cucumbers.
Everyone deserves a healthy diet. As seen, it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are so many food options out there that are healthy for your body. You just have to know how to go about it. Since WHO considers healthy dieting a lifestyle, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t adopt this lifestyle.