‘Healthy dieting’ is unarguably one of the most erroneously applied terms.
To most people, eating healthy implies cutting back on food portions and investing more in plants than animal products. While there’s some truth in that notion, healthy dieting entails much more than just reducing food portions or becoming a vegan.
This article delves deeper into what constitutes healthy dieting and why eating healthy is so important.
What Constitutes Healthy Dieting?
A huge part of healthy dieting consists in eating a balanced diet. Perhaps the next question running through your mind is – what constitutes a balanced diet?
Elementary science defines a balanced diet as an equal combination of protein, carbohydrates, and lipids. However, the word “equal” in this statement is highly subjective as it’s dependent on numerous factors. The more accurate definition of a balanced diet would be food comprising the recommended daily intake (RDI) of protein, carbohydrates, and lipids, as well as essential vitamins and minerals.
Emphasis is usually laid on protein as this nutrient forms the foundation for the development of all tissues in the body. These range from muscle tissues to ligaments, skin, hair, and even bones.
Protein comes in two different forms, namely animal protein and plant protein. Lean meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs are some of the great sources of animal protein. On the other hand, legumes (like peas and soy), leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, and nuts are excellent sources of plant protein.
Both protein varieties are considered beneficial for normal growth and development. However, many nutritionists recommend plant protein as it’s easy to consume without subjecting yourself to other potentially harmful ingredients, such as saturated fat and cholesterol.
Other popular components of a balanced diet include;
- Carbohydrates – Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Fats – Unrefined vegetable oils (such as olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, soy oil, and corn oil), fish, nuts, and seeds.
- Essential vitamins – Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and B-complex vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate)
- Essential minerals – Calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, chloride, fluoride, sulfur, and iodine
Portion control is another important aspect of healthy dieting. It’s essential to eat just the right amount of food. Undereating deprives your body of the energy it needs to perform various physiological functions. Overeating, on the other hand, can lead to unintentional weight gain, abdominal discomfort, and various chronic illnesses like diabetes.
The thumb rule while determining the right food portion is to use your clenched fist. A clenched fist is about one cup, the recommended amount of rice, pasta, cereals, fruits, and vegetables you should eat in a single sitting. As for meat, aim for the size of your palm.
The following are other tips for healthy eating :
- Never skip breakfast
- Avoid heavy meals right before bedtime
- Prioritize diets rich in the combination of protein and fiber
- If you’re a meat lover, insist on poultry and seafood
- Remember that an apple a day keeps the doctor away
- Cut back on your intake of salt and sugar
- Avoid processed and refined products
- Insist on non-GMO products
- Be sure to meet your recommended daily fluid intake, which is 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women.
- Cut back on alcohol and recreational drug use.
Why Is Eating Healthy Such A Big Deal?
- It Can Boost Energy
The body relies primarily on the foods that we eat to generate energy. Consuming energy-boosting foods in the morning, such as caffeinated beverages, can maximize your daytime productivity by keeping you physically and mentally charged.
- It Can Strengthen Bones and Teeth
Missing teeth, bleeding jaws, and brittle bones are among the top indicators of poor dieting. Or, more specifically, calcium deficiency.
Eating calcium-rich foods can go a long way in minimizing the risks of degenerative bone diseases like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Besides, wouldn’t you want to keep your beautiful smile through your old age?
- It Can Improve Memory
Everyone deserves a retentive memory. Seniors need a good memory the most due to their higher susceptibility to neurodegenerative diseases.
Research has shown that eating certain foods can help improve your memory and other aspects of cognitive performance. Coffee, chocolate, turmeric, berries, and nuts are noteworthy foods linked to better memory.
- It Can Enhance Bowel Movements
Abdominal discomfort can easily interfere with your sleep and daytime productivity. That’s especially true for the discomfort caused by constipation or diarrhea.
Eating healthy can enhance your bowel activity, thereby minimizing abdominal issues. Dietary fiber is the most famous nutrient associated with regular bowel movements.
- It Can Aid in Weight Loss
Obesity and overweight affect millions worldwide. While genetics and environment are risk factors for both conditions, most cases result from mindless dieting.
Not only can eating healthy prevent you from packing up more pounds. It can also help you shed extra weight.
- It Can Relieve Stress and Mood Swings
Most people attribute chronic stress and mood swings to certain underlying conditions. But sometimes, these symptoms are a direct consequence of poor dietary choices.
Investing in stress-relieving foods can be a natural way to boost your mental health. Popular options here include seafood, chocolate, chamomile tea, and oatmeal.
Mindless dieting is a habit that’s easy to form but painfully difficult to break. Without urgent intervention, the habit could lead to various nutritional and medical complications without urgent intervention. Fortunately, it’s never too late to incorporate healthy foods into your lifestyle.