We all know that we need to eat right to be healthy. Healthy food choices can do much more that help you stay fit, but can also prevent and sometimes cure diseases, and make you more energetic, active, and can prolong your life. We should be very careful while making choices every single day, because you are what you eat, and it reflects on your skin, your blood, and every day life.
Wouldn’t it be ideal if you could meet with a health coach (dietitian or a nutritionist) monthly to plan your meals and personalize your nutrition goals with you?
Fret not, this article and other supplemental articles on this website can help you understand good nutrition from a Registered Dietitian, and guide you to make better food choices. The following are some crucial steps that you can take to achieve a well-balanced diet.
Step 1: Forget Dieting
First of all you have to remove the mindset of “dieting”. Restricting food can never be the answer to a thin waist. It is only a temporary solution which usually results in dehydration and it is inevitable that you will never stick to it. The only way to get to your ideal weight is to make a slow but permanent change to your lifestyle.
Step 2: Eat!
By that I mean don’t starve. You should eat at least three meals everyday and can eat up to six meals a day. Yes! Just be careful of portion sizes. Don’t over eat at one meal and not eat at all for the rest of the day, this will only make your blood sugar unstable, and can lead to Diabetes and more weight gain.
Step 3: Eat Breakfast, no matter what
It is very important to have some solid food within an hour of waking up in the morning. Breakfast should be the most important meal of your day and should have some protein (meat, egg or milk), fruits and vegetables, grains (bread, cereal, rice) and dairy products.
Step 4: Evenly space your meals throughout the day
Try eating every four to six hours. This might sound like too many meals but you don’t have to have a meal each time, you can have a light snack instead. Do not let yourself go without eating for long periods of time, this will make you want to indulge in high fat and sweet foods in your next meal. Making this a regular habit can prevent diabetes or help you manage it.
Step 5: And of course – fruits and vegetables
I don’t know who will tell you to not eat fruits and vegetables. If you do nothing else to change your diet and lifestyle this is one habit you have to adopt if you do not want diseases. Fruits and vegetables come in all shapes, colours and sizes and your body needs all of them. The colours of your fruit and vegetables matter, every colour comes with a unique phytochemical which will boost some areas of your health.
You need a minimum of 2 fruits and 3 vegetables in your diet on a daily basis, and there is no maximum (to read about recommendations click here). You should try to have one dark green and one yellow/orange vegetable daily.
Don’t be overwhelmed if you are not eating that many or even one right now. Add one fruit and one vegetable to your day today. Start slow, you do not need to over indulge your system, start with one every day and then add another after two weeks, and so on.
Step 6: Add lean protein
If you eat meat, try replacing one meal with a non-meat protein (chickpeas, beans, lentils, legumes). Trim the skin and visible fat from the meat, and opt for white meat (chicken or turkey breast) instead of red meat. Include fish once or twice a week. Try baking, roasting, poaching instead of deep frying your proteins.
Step 7: Drink milk
Work your way up to 3 cups of dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) daily (see recommendations here). Milk is not only for children, adults still need the nutrients in milk and dairy products to maintain bone health. Most people (especially women) who do not consume a good amount of calcium and vitamin D in their youth can witness weakened bones and bone diseases later in life.
Step 8: Include Whole grains
Whole grain means the entire grain instead of the refined and bleached grains. When wheat, rice and other grains are processed they are stripped of the essential top layers (germ and bran) of the grain, leaving only the inner layer. Opt for whole grain products, such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, oats, barley, quinoa, wild rice and whole wheat products (wheat pasta, whole wheat flour). Be warned that products labeled “brown” or “multigrain” don’t always mean that they are whole grain.
You are now informed about the essential steps you can take to start a healthier life. Remember to make small changes, start slow and build up to these recommendations. You can contact us or refer to other articles on this website for more information.