Incorporating a healthy and balanced diet into your lifestyle is absolutely essential for your overall health and wellbeing. What we put into our bodies is our fuel and we need to ensure that our bodies are getting everything they need to function properly. But in a world where junk food is increasingly prevalent and more convenient, it can often be difficult to stay on the straight and narrow and always choose healthy options. But with the right information and a little determination, a healthy diet can easily be achieved. Here are just a few tips to get you started!
Get Your Five a Day
When I was growing up, I was very familiar with the food pyramid because it was taught to us in school. However, the traditional food pyramid has been revised to encourage the consumption of more whole foods, vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts. These are the foods that will lead to better overall health, less chronic illnesses, and better quality of life.
The USDA recommends 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This can seem like a daunting task, but it’s easier than you think. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season for better tasting produce, cheaper prices, and more options. Freezing fruits and vegetables or buying them frozen is a great way to store produce long term without sacrificing nutritional content. Some great ways incorporate more vegetables into your diet include making vegetable soup, using zoodles instead of pasta, cauliflower crust pizza, adding vegetables to omelets, blending leafy greens into smoothies, and adding vegetables into sauces and pasta dishes. Many of these options are kid-friendly and great tasting.
Consider Whole Grains
A simple and quick fix to your diet is to switch to whole grain options. Replacing your current purchases with whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, etc. would be an easy way to improve your diet without sacrificing taste. Whole grains are packed with nutrients, including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, magnesium). Eating more whole grains have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
Many of us forget about water when we consider a balanced diet. But staying hydrated is absolutely essential for your health. It’s generally recommended that you have eight glasses of water on a daily basis. Carrying a reusable water bottle with you will make staying hydrated a whole lot easier, and it is much better for the environment than disposable bottles. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink; set an alarm on your phone to give you constant reminders. Also be sure to drink water before, during, and after strenuous exercise so that you are replacing the fluids you lose when you sweat. If you are craving a sugary drink, try sparkling water or fruit-infused water to add some excitement to your hydration.
Everything in Moderation
A mistake that many people make when coming up with a healthy diet is to completely cut out things that they deem “unhealthy”. But it’s important to remember that eating should be enjoyable and most foods are okay when consumed in moderation. If you maintain a healthy diet the majority of the time, treating yourself occasionally is a critical component of sustainability. Whether your indulgence is pretzels from Eastern Standard Provisions or a slice of cake, don’t feel guilty about giving in to your cravings now and then.
These are just a few simple ways to make your diet a whole lot healthier. Start working them into your lifestyle and you’ll begin to feel the benefits surprisingly quickly! When you maintain these lifestyle changes, you will feel the benefits in all facets of your life.