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Healthy eating is not about strict nutrition philosophies, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, maintaining a stable mood, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible.
Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of colour, variety, and freshness. This way, it becomes easier to make healthy choices, and avoid common dieting mistakes.
Sustainability and balance:
Healthy eating is about eating in moderation. Focus on foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients. The goal is to develop a diet that you can maintain over a long period of time, and eventually ingrain it as an integral part of your life. The positive dietary habits should not be restricted to a few weeks or months, or until you hit your ideal weight.
So, try to think of moderation in terms of balance. When you avoid certain foods or food groups completely, it is natural that you crave more for those foods, and ultimately you give in to temptation. So, start by reducing the portion sizes, and eventually cut out the excessively oily and fatty foods.
Portions and timings:
Eating small, healthy portions throughout the day, rather than the standard three large meals, can keep your energy and metabolism levels up. With regard to timings and portions, start with a healthy breakfast, followed by a light lunch, and then an early dinner, by 7 or 8 pm. The dinner should be done at least 2 hours before you sleep, and grab small snacks in between meals. Nuts and fruits are great options for in-between-meals snacks.
Nutritional profile and palate:
A healthy diet should be well-balanced, with carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Choose healthy carbohydrates and fibre-rich sources, especially from whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. These are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help protect against heart disease and various types of cancers. Try including whole wheat, finger and fox millets, quinoa, and barley, in your daily diet.
Focus on the quality of the proteins rather than quantity. Proteins such as fresh fish, chicken, tofu, eggs, beans, and nuts, are good options. Choose white meat rather than red meat, as animal fat is the number one source of unhealthy saturated fat. Vegetable proteins, namely dal and legumes, can be included in the diet in various forms.
Eating two servings of vegetables and one serving of green leafy vegetables daily, helps meet the daily requirement. Make sure you select a variety of colours to get the most nutrients per bite, as different colours provide different benefits. Eat whole fruit, instead of drinking that glass of juice. Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, colourful, deeply coloured fruits and vegetables, as they contain a higher concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre.
Apart from macronutrients and micronutrients, staying well-hydrated is the next step to being healthy. Aim for 10 to 15 glasses of water per day. It can be in the form of water, healthy soups, tender coconut water, buttermilk, jeera water, porridge, and healthy smoothies.
Try to limit salt to one teaspoonful per day. Avoid refined flours and sugary items. Sugar causes energy fluctuations, and can add to health and weight problems. People who have a sweet tooth, should rather consume fruit, as they are filling as well as rich in fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Chew your food slowly, savouring every bite. Stop eating when you feel full because it takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food. Do not mistake every pang in the stomach for hunger, sometimes all you need is a glass of water.
Find something active that you like to do, and add it to your daily routine. Options range from forty minutes of walking to an hour of swimming or cycling. You could also climb the stairs from time to time, rather than taking the elevator. These measures will help you keep healthy, and make healthy life choices.
Eating in front of the television or computer, may often lead to mindless overeating. Eating with other people has numerous social and emotional benefits, particularly for children, as it allows for model healthy eating habits.
Keeping a food diary will open your eyes and make you track everything that goes into your body, making you realize how healthy or unhealthy your eating habits are. By endeavouring to eat nutritious foods, you are creating a healthy lifestyle that will help you maintain optimum weight and keep you healthy lifelong.
Diets can never be a ‘one size fits all’ affair. Diets need to be modified based on the ideal body weight, disease condition, food habits, and lifestyle of each person.
Regardless of the diet you follow, be it intermittent fasting, Mediterranean diet, or keto, what is important is that you consult a professional and understand the consequences of your dietary intake.