Nutrition experts the world over agree that the fundamentals of healthy eating are the time-tested advice of balance, variety in addition to moderation. In short, this means consuming a wide variety of foods without taking in too many calories or too much of any one nutrient. These 10 tips can help you to follow that advice while still enjoying the foods that you eat.
Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods
You require more than 40 different nutrients in order to maintain good health. No single food supplies them all. Your food selection every day should include bread and other whole-grain products as well as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, poultry, fish and other protein-rich foods. How much food you should eat depends on your calorie requirements.
Eat plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables
Surveys show that most South Africans don’t eat enough of these foods. Do you eat between six and 111 servings from the bread, rice, cereal and pasta group? Three of these should be whole grains. Do you eat between two and four servings of fruit and three to five servings of vegetables? If you don’t take to some of these at first, give them another chance!
Keep to a healthy weight
The weight that’s correct for you depends on many factors such as your sex, height, age and heredity. Excess body fat increases your chances for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some types of cancer and other illnesses. But being too thin can increase your risk for osteoporosis, menstrual irregularities and other health problems. If you’re constantly losing and then regaining weight a registered dietitian can help you to develop sensible eating habits for successful weight management. Regular exercise is also important for maintaining a healthy weight.
Eat moderate portions
If you keep portion sizes reasonable, it’s easier to eat the foods that you want and stay healthy. Did you know that the recommended serving of cooked meat it 5g? This is similar in size to a deck of playing cards. A medium piece fo fruit is one serving and a cup of pasta equals two services.
Eat regular meals
Skipping meals can result in out-of-control hunger which often results in overeating. When you’re very hungry it’s also appealing to stick good nutrition under the carpet. Snacking between meals can help to curb hunger but don’t eat so much that your snack becomes an entire meal.
Reduce but don’t cut out specific foods
Many people eat for pleasure as well as nutrition. If your favourite foods contain high levels of fat, salt or sugar the important thing is moderating how much of these foods you eat and how often you eat them. Identify major sources of these ingredients in your diet and make changes if necessary.
Balance your food choices over time
Not every food as to be ‘perfect’. When eating food that is high in fat, salt or sugar select other foods which are low in these ingredients. If you miss out on eating any food group one day make up for it the day after this. Your food choices over a number of days should fit together into a healthy pattern.
Know your diet pitfalls
Improving your eating habits involves you first have to know what’s not working with them. Write down everything that you eat for three days. Then check your list in accordance with the rest of these tips. Do you include a lot of butter, creamy sauces or salad dressings to your food? As opposed to eliminating these foods, just cut back your portions. Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables? If not, you may be missing out on vital nutrients.
Make changes slowly
Just as there are no quick-fix answers to a healthy diet don’t be expecting to totally revamp your eating habits overnight. Altering too much too fast can get in the way of success in nutrition. Begin to remedy excesses or deficiencies with slight changes that can add up to positive, lifelong eating habits.
Remember that foods are not good or bad
Select foods based on your total eating patterns and not whether any individual food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Don’t feel guilty if you love foods such as apple pie, potato chips, sweets or ice cream. Enjoy them in moderation and choose other foods to provide the balance and variety that are vital to good health.
Eat a healthy breakfast
Skipping breakfast is an often-seen strategy for people who are trying to lose weight but it’s usually not a successful one. Your body expects to be refuelled a few times each day so when you skip meals you may feel so hungry that when lunchtime comes you overeat or maybe you choose foods that are not the healthiest choices.
If you want to learn more about nutrition and healthy eating choices, we recommend that you do our Specialised Nutrition Course. For more information, please follow this link.