Healthy eating can be the remedy for many physical and psychological ailments. Researchers are discovering that you really "are what you eat," and healthy eating can make the difference between average health and optimal, radiant health.
What is healthy eating? It can have many definitions, but here are some of the characteristics of a healthy eating plan:
Healthy eating means choosing fresh fruits and vegetables over frozen, and frozen over canned. Canned vegetables really have no place in a healthy eating plan.
Healthy eating means eating a diet that consists mostly of plant material (fruits and veggies) with adequate fresh protein from either meat or a vegetarian source such as beans.
Healthy eating means cooking fruits and vegetables as little as possible. Raw plant material contains enzymes that help your body release the nutrients, and cooking destroys these enzymes. Many people feel a "raw food diet" is healthy eating at its finest.
Healthy eating means choosing produce that is organic whenever possible. To start a healthy eating plan, make friends with the local farmers in your area and research with your local health food store to find sources of organic produce. Start or join an organic food co-op to save money and enjoy healthy eating that you can afford.
Healthy eating means getting most of your protein from "lean, clean" sources such as organic skim milk, organic free-range eggs, and grass-fed beef--or from vegetarian sources such as beans combined with whole grains.
Healthy eating means eating more foods that have to be cooked "from scratch" such as dried beans and raw produce, instead of food that is packaged and processed.
Healthy eating means not eating too much at one time, or too much of one food; moderation is the watchword of healthy eating.
Healthy eating means maintaining a diet that's low in total fat and sugar. Although an occasional slice of birthday cake won't change your health dramatically, eating a slice of cake every day will definitely have an impact. Healthy eating means enjoying food but feeding your body healthy foods most of the time.
To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a healthy diet sooner than you think.
Three tips to start a healthy eating plan:
1. Take it slow. Every change you can make to improve your diet will help your health in some way. It’s not necessary to eat a perfect diet to embrace healthy eating. You don’t have to completely give up anything you love to eat; your long-term goal should be to feel energized, healthy, and content while lowering your risk of disease and illness. Remember, your daily life is full of food choices. Every healthy eating choice you make is a move in the right direction.
2. Eat simply. Healthy eating can be easiest if you aim for upgrading your food choices—for example, from processed to fresh, or from grocery store veggies to organic. You don’t have to count calories and fat grams and protein grams to start a healthy eating plan. Try to learn what represents a healthy eating portion of food. Try to serve a plate of colorful, varied foods using a few fresh ingredients. Learn some new, simple recipes that include healthy eating items, and gradually work them into your weekly healthy eating diet.
3. Start small. If you’ve been eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) for years, you can’t instantly switch to healthy eating without feeling some repercussions. Change takes time, and it’s easiest to change one thing at a time. Otherwise, you might find yourself abandoning healthy eating altogether in favor of a binge and splurge that will only make you feel worse. Try to eat more fish. Try to include a salad in one meal a day. Try to switch from corn oil to olive oil. If you make one change each week, you will have taken FIFTY steps toward healthy eating by the end of the year!
Final advice: Remember the six-word guide to healthy eating:
EAT. NOT TOO MUCH. MOSTLY PLANTS.