Another of the categories identified in our first blog (A Healthy Balance) as part of the physical aspects that we need to care for in our body is our diet. What we consume has a huge impact on our health; therefore, it is beneficial to know the benefits and disadvantages of the foods we decide to consume. Our body is so smart about being able to decide what it needs, how much of it, and what is not necessary, and in a similar way, it is also not prepared for certain ingredients that are not considered natural. Unnatural or processed foods, even though some look or taste delicious, are not as easily processed by our body as natural foods, generating some problems in our system. Nowadays we have so many options and such an ample variety of dishes, with the help of the internet we can find recipes from any part of the world, for any type of palate.
So, what is the ideal diet?
There really isn’t a general recipe for an ideal diet; the idea in this is that the diet you follow is perfect for YOU! All bodies are created differently; therefore, your main focus should be on what your body needs, how you feel with the plan you follow, does it keep you energized and help you remain at a stable, healthy weight? There is no exact, perfect, or right way to go about this as so many factors come into play. Yes, even when eating, things like age, weight, height, sex, and level of physical activity are some of the factors that would need to be considered to determine the ideal diet for you. We can say that when preparing a meal, the food on the plate must be colorful, reds, greens, oranges, yellows, etc., with natural, mostly fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, etc.
Some tips for healthy eating habits:
-Balance your plate and make it colorful with options from these food groups
Grains: whole grains
Dairy: cheese, low-fat milk, and yogurt are all a great source of calcium
Protein: Fish, meats, eggs, nuts
-Always pay attention to the amount of food you consume
-Drink a lot of water
-Try home cooking more often, that way you get to decide what goes into the dish you cook and if it is something your body needs
-Meal planning is always a very helpful way to achieving dietary goals, as what becomes hard at times is deciding what to cook and having the ingredients needed for that meal. When you have a meal plan, you decide ahead of time, get the ingredients, and follow the recipe, which aids in attaining your goal.
So, what does this mean for the fried, sugary, breaded, fatty foods that some of us enjoy? Well, we don’t have to eliminate them completely; ideally, we could, but we also want to enjoy those flavors every now and then. The key is to think about it as a thing you do, maybe once a week or twice a month, depending on your goals. Of course, you should be allowed to eat those foods you so crave, but it is all about being mindful and realizing that they should not be part of your daily diet.
What we do have available is a general guide that is recommended by experts who have conducted studies and studied different body types in order to guide us through this process. In addition, there is an immense variety of sources that provide assistance to help achieve what seems to be a challenging step for a lot of us. There are books, websites, apps, social media groups, videos, government-based plans, etc. One website that provides excellent information on this topic is The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 . This website offers 4 main guidelines to follow:
Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every stage in life
Customize and enjoy nutrient-filled foods and beverages to reflect traditions, culture, budget, and personal choices
Focus on achieving all the food group amounts with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and making sure to stay within calorie limits
Limit all foods and beverages that are high in added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, and limit alcoholic beverages.
Food plays such an important and vital part in our life, as it is what we consume that can either help with or hinder our daily activities. As we mature, our body changes, and this creates different needs for different stages in life. Still, one important detail to always keep in mind is that no plan or rule can fit all, which is why it is so important always to pay attention to the body’s reaction to foods. It is ideal to start at an early age, but it is also never too late to start. One good idea is to visit your primary care physician and find out what would work better for your body in general terms, and at times they might recommend a nutritionist for a more personalized, in-depth plan. It is not always easy to make the transition as the way we eat becomes more of a lifestyle than anything, but the benefits of making these changes are immense and favorable for our health.