Eating a healthy diet is an important part of maintaining overall health and wellness and its also an important part of achieving goals like strength gain or weight loss.
However, with so much conflicting information available about what to eat and what to avoid, it can be overwhelming to try to make healthy choices. This guide aims to provide simple, evidence-based advice to help you make healthy eating a part of your daily routine.
First, it’s important to focus on the basics of healthy eating. A healthy diet should include a variety of foods from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Aim for balance and variety, rather than trying to follow a strict set of rules or eliminate certain foods completely.
Half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, a quarter should be filled with grains (preferably whole grains), and the remaining quarter should be filled with protein. In addition, it’s important to include sources of healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados, in your diet in moderation.
Consuming more than we need is a common problem among those who are looking to achieve specific results with nutrition. It’s important to pay attention to portion sizes, as eating larger portions than your body needs can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Use measuring cups, a food scale, or your hand as a guide to help you determine appropriate portion sizes. For example, a serving of vegetables is generally considered to be about 1 cup, while a serving of meat or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand.
It’s also helpful to be mindful of the calorie content of the foods you eat, as well as the overall balance of nutrients – some foods are more calorie-dense than others.
Understanding the Label
Reading nutrition labels is an important part of making informed choices about the foods we eat. The label provides information about the nutrient content of a food product, including the serving size, the number of calories per serving, and the amounts of certain nutrients per serving.
It’s important to pay attention to the serving size listed on the label, as the nutrient content is based on this amount. While you may want more or less than the serving size listed, understanding that part of the label gives you a better idea of what you’re consuming in terms of nutrient value..
The % Daily Value (% DV) column can be helpful for comparing the nutrient content of different foods. A % DV of 5% or less is considered low, while a % DV of 20% or more is considered high.
When reading the label, look for foods that are high in nutrients and low in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats. In addition to the label, it’s also important to consider factors like taste, convenience, and cost when making decisions about what to eat. The label is just one tool among many that can help you make informed choices about your diet.
Consistency is King
Consistency is one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to healthy eating. Rather than trying to follow a strict diet or make drastic changes to your eating habits all at once, it’s often more effective to focus on making small, sustainable changes to your diet over time and aim to mostly stay on track.
Too many people make drastic changes that required big changes in their lifestyle or the way they eat. Generally, most of these changes (done all at one time) have very little chance of success with most people.
Avoid drastic changes on a whim. Plan your journey and be happy if you’re mostly following your plan.
While exercise isn’t exactly related with healthy eating, it’s an important part of living a healthy lifestyle.
In addition to a healthy diet, regular physical activity is also important for maintaining a healthy weight, improving mental health, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week.
While these are broad statements that apply to a wide variety of lifestyles, these numbers listed above are mostly for someone who’s just getting started with physical activity. If you’re regularly exercising, you’re going to need to step these numbers up after a few weeks.
This can include activities like walking the dog or cycling, as well as more intense activities like running or the high-intensity interval training classes we run at OnSide. It’s also critical to incorporate strength training exercises, such as weightlifting or callisthenics, at least two days a week to help maintain muscle mass and bone density. This becomes even more important as you age.
It’s important to manage your expectations when it comes to making healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle. It’s a long-term process and it’s not realistic to expect to see significant results in a short period of time. Instead, focus on making small, sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle, and be patient with yourself as you work towards your goals.
The most successful people we work with here at OnSide have taken their goals and changed from results based (I want to lose X number of pounds) to action based (I want to meal prep this week, I want to make my own lunch 3 times this week, etc). These goals are easier to achieve, easy to measure, and therefore help keep you motivated and carry on. Over time, achieving these small goals will eventually lead you to the results you might have wanted to make.
It’s easy enough to read about what the right thing to do is, but it’s another thing to actually make those changes yourself.
You need someone in your corner to help you through this. If you have a partner or a friend who is a qualified nutrition expert, get them to help keep you on track or do it with you.
If you don’t have anyone who’s qualified to give advice, see a Registered Dietitian. Tactics that work for you often won’t be the same as something that works for anyone else.