We all know that our diet has a profound impact on our mental and physical health, but with all the constantly changing health columns we’re exposed to, it can often be hard to know just what a healthy diet means. Eating a variety of foods, and getting the right amount of calories relative to your age and level of activity are the two main staples for ensuring you have a healthy diet. However, translating this into a structured routine is easier said than done. Here, I’ve condensed all the leading advice on nutrition into a list of easy-to-follow tips. Keep these in mind, and you’ll have little else to worry about.
Base Your Meals Around Starchy Carbs
Due to a lot of popular diets from the past century, many people hold a certain stigma around any kind of carbohydrates. However, they’re a very important food group that you can’t do without. According to the latest research, carbs should make up just over a third of all the food you consume. These include bread, rice, pasta, cereals and potatoes. One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re getting enough carbs in your diet is to switch to wholegrain varieties of the carbs you already eat. While people who prefer the taste of these are a minority, they contain much more fiber, and can help you to stay feeling fuller for longer. You should also make a point to eat more starch-heavy foods. Again, many people associate starch with putting on weight. However, gram for gram, the carbohydrate starchy foods typically contain gives you less than half the calories of fat. Still, you should keep a cap on any fats you add when preparing starchy carbohydrates, as this is what’s going to increase the calories. Butter on bread, creamy sauces on pasta, and oil on fries all need to be avoided.
Get Your Fill of Fruit and Veg
You’ve probably heard this one until you’ve grown sick of it! Still, getting your recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables is essential to keeping your diet as balanced and healthy as possible. The latest studies recommend that we get five to nine portions of varied fruit and vegetables every day in order to assure we get the helpful vitamins and minerals they contain. If you’ve been taking it easy with your diet for most of your life, then this quota may sound a little challenging. However, it’s much easier than it sounds. A small glass of 100% squeezed fruit juice with no artificial sweetener can count as one portion, and mixing in some veggies with your dinner can also be a big help. You may want to cut up a banana and add it to your cereal, or swap out your usual snacks for a piece of fruit. Simply keeping a fruit bowl somewhere in your house which you’ll pass by frequently can be enough to prompt you into getting your recommended intake.
Eat More Fish – Particularly Oily Fish
Fish isn’t everyone’s favorite kind of food, but it’s full of nutrients which are essential to any healthy diet. Fish in general is a great source of protein, and certain types are bursting with vitamins and minerals which will have a profound positive effect on your overall health. You should be aiming to eat at least two portions a week, including one portion of what’s called “oily fish”. These include my personal favorite salmon, as well as trout, herring, sardines and fresh tuna. Non-oily fish include canned tuna, cod, haddock, plaice and skate. The difference is that oily fish contains omega-3 fats, which have been found to be great for our cardiovascular health, and effective for reducing the risk of heart disease and similar conditions. If you have a favorite go-to fish, try to widen your palette and eat a variety of different species. Just remember that smoked and canned fish can often be high in salt, which can be very detrimental for your health if you have too much of it.
Make Meat Healthier
Meat is a lot of people’s favorite food group, but it’s one that you need to be careful with if you want your diet to be as healthy as possible. Meats are a great source of protein, minerals and vitamins. However, many of them are also high in saturated fat, which can cause our cholesterol to reach dangerous levels. You can make meat healthier when buying it by asking your butcher for a lean cut, checking the nutrition label on packaged meats to see how much fat it contains, and choosing turkey and chicken without the skin as these are lower in fat. It’s also a good idea to grill your meat, rather than frying it. This can make a huge difference to the amount of meat you’re consuming. Trimmed pork chops, for instance, loose around two thirds of their fat if you grill them rather than frying or roasting them. You should also avoid adding any extra oil or fat when you’re cooking. When you do roast meat, use a metal rack over the roasting tin, ensuring that the fat can run off. Finally, make sure you do everything you can to avoid food poisoning when buying or cooking meat. Wash your hands thoroughly, along with your worktops, and any dishes that you’re going to use for holding uncooked meats. Although it’s usually fairly benign, food poisoning can be a very serious condition, and occasionally leads to aggressive litigation against various restaurants and supermarkets. You can read it at RobinsCloud.com/food-poisoning-lawsuit.
Cut Down on Sugar and Saturated Fat
Though the very word sets off alarm bells in a lot of people’s heads, we all need at least some fat in our diet to stay healthy. Still, with our modern accessibility to it, it’s important to pay close attention to both the amount of fat you’re getting and the type of fat it is. The two types of fat you need to concern yourself with are saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat, which you’ve probably heard more about, can increase the amount of cholesterol in our blood if we eat too much of it, and in turn increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. An adult male should avoid having any more than 30 grams of saturated fat a day, whereas an adult woman should have no more than 20. Children of both genders should have even less than adult women. Saturated fat is present in a lot of foods, such as hard cheeses, biscuits, cakes, butter, lard, and pies. Most people in the western world are getting too much saturated fat in their diet, so make a point of cutting down on the kinds of foods that have it in abundance. Again, when it comes to meat, cut off any visible fat, or ask your butcher for lean cuts. Sugar should also be avoided, as hard as this may be. Regularly consuming foods that have a high sugar concentration increases your risk of both obesity and tooth decay. Sugar-heavy foods and drinks, including most alcohols, are often high in energy. If all that energy isn’t balanced out by regular exercise, it can contribute heavily to weight gain. Again, the labels on the food you buy can be a big help. Check these to find out how much sugar the food contains. If it’s any higher than 22 grams per 100, then the concentration is high, and you should try to find a healthier alternative.
Cut Down on Salt
The final thing you need to be keeping an eye on if you want a healthier diet is salt. Eating too much salt will inevitably raise your blood pressure, and people with a higher than average blood pressure are significantly more likely to develop conditions like heart disease, or have a stroke. Some people think that they can do a pretty good job of keeping a cap on their salt intake simply by not adding it to their food. However, even if you’ve done this, you could still be eating too much salt to stay healthy. Roughly 75% of the salt an average person eats is in the food they buy from supermarket shelves, such as soups, breads, cereals and sauces. Adults of both genders shouldn’t be eating more than 6 grams of salt per day, and the cap should be even lower for children. Just like anything that has the potential to offset the state of your health, you should be checking the labels of everything you pick up, and getting into a meal plan that limits your salt intake. If there’s more than 1.5 grams of salt in 100, then it should be considered high, and avoided for a healthier alternative.
If you’re struggling to make sure you’re eating well, then bookmark this guide and keep referring back to it. The list of tips could go on and on, and advice will change as nutritional science evolves. However, remembering and sticking to this advice will ensure that you stay on the right track in terms of your diet.