Easy tips for planning a healthy diet and sticking to it

 

By Davinder Marjara

Oakville, November 20 (CINEWS):Healthy eating is not about strict nutrition philosophies, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, stabilizing your mood, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible– all of which can be achieved by learning some nutrition basics and using them in a way that works for you. You can expand your range of healthy food choices and learn

Fruit and vegetable variety.

Fruit and vegetable variety.

how to plan ahead to create and maintain a tasty, healthy diet.

Here are some tips:

Set yourself up for success
To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a healthy diet sooner than you think.

Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. This way it should be easier to make healthy choices.
Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan.
Think of water and exercise as food groups in your diet.
Water. Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins.
Exercise– Find something active that you like to do and add it to y our day, just like you would add healthy greens, blueberries, or salmon.

Moderation is key
People often think of healthy eating as an all or nothing proposition, but a key foundation for any healthy diet is moderation. But what is moderation? How much is a moderate amount? That really depends on you and your overall eating habits.

It’s not just what you eat, it’s how you eat
Healthy eating is about more than the food on your plate—it is also about how you think about food. Healthy eating habits can be learned and it is important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down in between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids.
Eat with others whenever possible. Eating with other people has numerous social and emotional benefits, particularly for children.
Take time to chew your food and enjoy mealtimes. Chew your food slowly, savoring every bite.
Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full.
Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism.
Avoid eating at night. Try to eat dinner earlier in the day and then fast for 14-16 hours until breakfast the next morning

Fill up on colorful fruits and vegetables
The importance of getting vitamins from food—not pills
Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. They are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day and with every meal—the brighter the better. Colorful, deeply-coloured fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—and different colours provide different benefits, so eat a variety. Aim for a minimum of five portions each day.
Greens are great choices. Branch out beyond bright and dark green lettuce. Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options—all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.

Eat more healthy carbs and whole grains
Choose healthy carbohydrates and fiber sources, especially whole grains, for long lasting energy. In addition to being delicious and satisfying, whole grains are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help to protect against coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. .

Enjoy healthy fats and avoid unhealthy fats
Good sources of healthy fat are needed to nourish your brain, heart, and cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA are particularly important and can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood, and help prevent dementia.
Add to your healthy diet:
Monounsaturated fats, from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans), and seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame).
Polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold water fish oil supplements.
Avoid Trans fats, found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Put protein in perspective
Protein gives us the energy to get up and go—and keep going. Protein in food is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy, and essential for maintaining cells, tissues, and organs. A lack of protein in our diet can slow growth, reduce muscle mass, lower immunity, and weaken the heart and respiratory system. Protein is particularly important for children, whose bodies are growing and changing daily.
Here are some guidelines for including protein in your healthy diet:
• Try different types of protein. Whether or not you are a vegetarian, trying different protein sources—such as beans, nuts, seeds, peas, tofu, and soy products—will open up new options for healthy mealtimes.
Beans: Black beans, navy beans, garbanzos, and lentils are good options.
Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans are great choices.
Soy products: Try tofu, soymilk, tempeh, and veggie burgers for a change.
Avoid salted or sugary nuts and refried beans.
• Downsize your portions of protein. Many people in the West eat too much protein. Try to move away from protein being the center of your meal. Focus on equal servings of protein, whole grains, and vegetables.
• Focus on quality sources of protein, like fresh fish, chicken or turkey, tofu, eggs, beans, or nuts. When you are having meat, chicken, or turkey, buy meat that is free of hormones and antibiotics.

Add calcium for strong bones nutrients that your body needs in order to stay strong and healthy. It is an essential building block for lifelong bone health in both men and women, as well as many other important
Calcium is one of the key functions.
You and your bones will benefit from eating plenty of calcium-rich foods, limiting foods that deplete your body’s calcium stores, and getting your daily dose of magnesium and vitamins D and K—nutrients that help calcium do its job.
Recommended calcium levels are 1000 mg per day, 1200 mg if you are over 50 years old. Take a vitamin D and calcium supplement if you don’t get enough of these nutrients from your diet.
Good sources of calcium include dairy products, vegetables and greens.
• Greens: Many vegetables, especially leafy green ones, are rich sources of calcium. Try turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and mushrooms.
• Beans: For another rich source of calcium, try black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, or baked beans.

Limit sugar and salt
If you succeed in planning your diet around fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats, you may find yourself naturally cutting back on foods that can get in the way of your healthy diet—sugar and salt.

Important tips for South Asians
Be aware of South Asian diet, especially the way of cooking. Frying adds to the saturated fats and the food also loses most of its nutrients. Most of the diet includes unhealthy carbs in the form of chapattis and white rice (which is converted into sugar), saturated fats and fewer vegetable sand fruits. This is the reason South Asians are at higher risk of getting diabetes and coronary heart disease. A recent survey also established that 75 percent of South Asians do not lead active life style, which makes the matter worse.
The best way to cook South Asian or Indian dishes is to steam or grill the vegetables and add as much spices you want adding little olive or coconut oil after cooking. Alternately stir-fry with very little oil, do not over fry.
Another healthy way of eating more vegetables is to blanch them. To do this:
• Cut vegetables of all colors sufficient to last you for 4-5 days.
• Wash thoroughly to get rid of all pesticide and fertilizers. (To clean vegetables soak in warm water with one cup of white vinegar for 15-20 minutes and then rinse thoroughly in fresh water.)
• Fill water in a large pot, add a bit of salt, garlic and ginger (chopped). Let it boil for 15 minutes.
• Then add cut (cleaned) vegetables cover and shut off the heat.
• Let it stand for 10-15 minutes, then drain the water.
These veggies can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. You can lightly stir fry portions as and when required. You can also add any South Asian spices to complete the dish.

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