What Does It Mean to Eat “Well”?
Part #1 of Wild About Health’s Made Simple Series
Health and nutrition can be confusing. We are bombarded with marketing messages, inundated with confusing food labels, and assailed with scientific research and multi-syllabic names for compounds and nutrients.
The Wild About Health Made Simple Series explains health and nutrition as simply as possible. The easier it is to understand, the easier it is to have a longer, healthier life.
Nutrition: Good vs. Bad
Q: Are you eating well?
We’re told by our doctors, by our leaders, and by countless talking heads to eat well and maintain our health; we’re urged to “get healthy” in order to maintain our weight, our heart, our brain, and our longevity. It sounds simple, and in some ways, it is. But how do we accomplish it?
Eating Well: 5 Simple Steps
1. Fruits & Vegetables, Every Day
A healthy diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables. Need a visual? Use the MyPlate guidelines. The new “plate” version of the old pyramid presents the general guideline of how much of each food group we should be eating.
You can eat seasonal food, organic food, or local food – if it’s available and affordable, then that’s great. You can eat across the rainbow and make an effort to get important phytochemicals that provide some fruits’ deep color. But the most important principle is this: fill you plate to half with fruits and vegetables every time you eat.
2. Know the Basics
Keeping nutrition simple means knowing about a few hot button healthy eating issues. Good nutrition emphasizes dietary fiber and cuts salt, saturated and trans fats, and added sugar. Unless you are dealing with specific dietary needs, as a general rule, you can maintain a healthier diet by doing the following:
- Reducing sodium
- Getting more fiber
- Drinking more water
- Reducing saturated fat
3. Shrink Your Portions
In order to maintain a healthy diet, many Americans must cut calories. Our health is often associated with our weight. Being overweight contributes to diabetes and heart disease and can shorten our life, and it’s as simple as that.
According to the Lempert Report, portion size is linked to plate size. (Surprisingly, it is also linked to plate color!) If you love numbers, counting calories might help. (Realizing that a bowl or chips and french onion dip will take up at least half your day’s calories helps their importance sink in.) But the easiest thing you can do is shrink your meal. Get a smaller plate, cut portions in half to eat later, or get rid of family-style eating. Whatever you do, aim to get the most nutrition you can from the calories you eat, and eat only the calories you need.
4. Cook For Yourself
Why cook for yourself? It’s simple: You’ll know what’s in your food. You’ll eat more whole, unprocessed ingredients. You’ll be better able to control your sodium, sugar, and fat. It’s more economical. It’s tastier. And, cooking your own meals is almost always lighter. Start cooking: it’s one of the best things you can do for your health.
Is your goal to eat better? Get these four simple principles under you belt. You can start understanding the benefits or pterostilebene and the best superfoods for optimum disease prevention later – it will come naturally. For now, start simple, and change the way you eat and how much. Then, if someone asks if you have a healthy diet, the answer will be simple: Yes.
More on the Web
- What is a healthy diet? Get a simple definition at Choosemyplate.gov.
- Give your diet some digital help. This article has 5 Apps for Eating Better that will help you find fruits and veggies, locate local, seasonal foods, and give you a fun way to track of your servings.
- Break it down. Fruits & Veggies More Matters takes the confusion out of healthy eating and provides nuts and bolts advice about calories, food groups, and what you should know.