Good nutrition is one of the keys to a healthy life. The scientific connection between food and health has been well documented. A healthy lifestyle – including following a healthy diet can help people achieve and maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases throughout all stages of the lifespan from infancy to older adulthood.
The food and beverages, we consume have an impact on our health. Our diet should include an array of colors on our plates as if we are eating a rainbow. This would include dark leafy greens, oranges, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, fresh herbs, etc. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 – 2025, a healthy eating plan can improve your health by including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fat free or low-fat milk dairy products.
Take a look at what you are eating. What are the strengths and weaknesses in your diet?
- Do you eat 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day?
- Do you eat highly processed foods OR do you eat whole grain & high fiber foods?
- Do you eat a lot of fatty foods which are high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars OR do you eat lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts?
- Do you drink zero or low – calorie beverages, such as water and tea or do you drink sweetened beverages such as soda, fruit drinks & sports and energy drinks that add calories to your diet?
Your answers to these questions will determine if you need to improve your eating habits for better nutrition. It can be hard to change eating habits, so focus on small changes for long lasting benefits. Many times, you hear, “But I really like … (favorite food)”. You can still enjoy your favorite foods. The key is eating them only once in a while and in smaller amounts while balancing them with healthier food choices. Physicians and dietitians suggest making healthy eating habits a part of daily life rather than following fad diets. Fad or short-term diets may promise to help you lose weight fast however, they can be hard to keep up with and could be unhealthy. Always consult with your healthcare provider or dietitian before starting a diet. They help you determine the best way to make nutritional changes specific to your health status and personal goals.
The French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin stated, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are”. The English translation … “You are what you eat”. Eating healthy is all about balance.
For more information on nutrition and healthy eating habits see the resources below.