May 9, 2017
Many of us are aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. When approached on dieting advice, the first question I’m often asked is how to eat healthily. Although I find the question odd, I’m aware that not everyone was raised in a household that eats right. With that in mind, here’s a bit of advice on beginning your healthful journey.
Avoid Processed Foods
That’s your Oreos, canned cheese, Hi-C, Koolaid, and other unnatural foodstuffs. These are filled with preservatives to keep from going stale. The reason you want to avoid these foods is because they’re usually very high in sodium, and are typically sugary as well. Too much sugar and fat is no bueno because the former leads to type 2 diabetes and the latter contributes towards high blood pressure.
Shoot for Leaner Meats
We usually think of chicken and fish as the leaner sources of protein out there. But what if I told you that it’s also fine to enjoy steak, depending on the cut? While I certainly occasionally enjoy some fat with my cut, you can definitely trim off the excess and still taste that sweet meat.
Buy Fruits + Vegetables in Season
I’ll likely create a separate article on when fruits go into season, but I’ll briefly cover the topic here. I saw a tumblr post from a person who bought a lot of luxury fruits that were out of season, and complained that her bill was $32. It would have been significantly cheaper if she didn’t purchase luxury produce, and bought them during the right time. Examples of luxury fruits are berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc), pineapples, and some kinds of apples. An example of a luxury vegetable are beets. Aim for common fruits such as main three apples (red delicious–fresh and sweet, yellow delicious–semisweet and crisp, and granny smith–sour and tart), bananas, and green grapes. Common vegetables are potatoes, carrots, and broccoli. When the appropriate season comes, feel free to buy watermelons, cherries, strawberries, etc. But be mindful that if you want to make healthy eating affordable, you need to be mindful. Also, don’t buy fruits in bulk because they ripen over time. Rather, purchase as you need.
Be Picky with Your Grains
If you refer to the food pyramid when making health decisions, you’ll notice that grains and starches make up the base, and therefore you may be inclined to eat a ton of carbs. While carbohydrates aren’t inherently bad (matter of fact, they’re integral towards maintaining your health), eating too many leads to weight gain. This is because the typical foods seen at the pyramid’s base have high caloric content in addition to high carbs. The carbohydrates that your body doesn’t use convert to fat. Finally, many of these foods aren’t filling, so you wind up eating far more than you should.
With that aside, consider consuming less fried rice, pasta, and white breads. Aim for white or brown rice (brown rice is the healthiest, but it’s an acquired taste), whole grain pasta, and breads that contain more grains. This is because these foods are more fibrous. Fiber is helpful because it slows your digestion, so your body gets the signal that you’re fuller sooner, which keeps you from overeating.
More Water and Tea, Less Juice and Sugar
It’s a no-brainer that water is good for you. It makes up 7/10 of our bodies, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Teas and infusions are primarily water, but also contain antioxidants which prevent free radicals (AKA what leads to cancer cells) from forming. You want to limit your juice intake because even if you’re having fruit juice, they’re very sugary beverages. Also, fruit juices have less health benefits than eating the fruit as is because you’re missing out on the skin. They’re very concentrated, so it’s like a shot of sugar to your system. Soda, whether regular or diet, is pretty bad for you. The only exception to the rule is ginger ale if there’s nothing else available to alleviate stomach pain.
In general, I have 1 cup of juice a day at the most. I often go without juice, and primarily drink water, tea, and soy/almond milk. I believe that when you distance yourself from unhealthy foods, your body becomes averse to consuming it.
Keep Your Dessert Intake to a Minimum
If you insist on having dessert daily, keep it to a minimum. This is because desserts are often very high in calories and sugar. The reason this matters is that people often eat desserts before heading to bed, and you’re really not supposed to eat food 1-2 hours before sleeping. Doing so leads to weight gain.
I hope that this post proves helpful for someone out there. Everything I wrote down is an accurate representation of my eating habits. I was raised in a household with no soda, vegetables always on the plate, and healthy foods available in abundance. And while I know that’s not the case for everyone, it’s never too late to improve your life.