What Exactly is a Healthy Diet?
Whether or not you are actually on a strict diet, you need to eat a mix of healthy, nutrient-rich foods. Start with whole fruits and vegetables. Half of what you eat should be made up of these nutritious plants. And vegetables should take up the larger share. Whole grains and lean protein should make up the other half, with grains taking up the larger portion. This is followed by a side of dairy like cheese, milk, or yogurt. If you follow this general outline every day, you should receive a foundation of necessary nutrients.
More important than nailing the ratios of healthy food groups though, is to control your portions and limit your intake of overly processed foods. Chips, cookies, soda, frozen dinners, fast food, and the like can all contain unhealthy amounts of sugar, fat, and salt.
A diet high in fat and rich in sugar is harder for your body to process on many levels. Sugar tastes great, but doesn’t do much to curb hunger. So, it takes an awful lot of sugary, processed foods to make you feel full. Fat and sugar also trigger the pleasure receptors in the brain.
For many of our distant ancestors, it was rare to come across calorie-dense foods. Those they found would provide much needed sustenance, and any calories the body didn’t convert to quick energy was stored as fat for future use. Gorging on sweets and fats whenever they were available gave humans an evolutionary advantage.
Now, this process works against us. Foods high in sugar and fat are everywhere, and, instead of feasting, the challenge now is to limit your intake. That means paying attention to those ingredient labels!
Better yet, try to eat whole and fresh foods as often as possible. You don’t have to search an ingredient label when you buy fresh produce, meat, and fish in the store. That’s because there are no added ingredients. When it comes to grains, try to stick with whole grains like whole wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice.