Too many confusing sources for healthy eating guidelines
There is so much information available about healthy eating. It may come from health professionals, scientists, from the food industry, from the government, from journalists, from doctors, from diet gurus, and the list goes on and on.
Some of these sources have an ulterior motive for influencing what we eat--some are simply trying to be informative and helpful.
Every week there is a new “study” that reveals some new aspect of eating healthy. If you find yourself confused by this barrage of information, you are not alone. Even a person trained in the field of nutrition, may find themselves throwing up their hands in frustration at the often contradictory reports.
To help you sort out this information, here is a list of some basic healthy eating guidelines that will move you toward your goal of living longer and feeling well.
Healthy Eating Guidelines
-Eat a variety of fresh, whole foods, including selections from the five food groups—Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Meat and Legumes and Milk.
-Include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, with an emphasis on vegetables.
-Include a serving of low-fat versions of good quality protein with each meal and snack.
-Eat good carbs such as whole grains most, if not all of the time.
-Choose unsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
-Include fiber foods with each meal so that you get a total of 25-30 grams of fiber each day.
-Eat a balanced diet with a ratio of 40-30-30 of good carbs, low-fat protein and good quality fats respectively.
-Eat colorful foods for their phytonutrients.
-Choose low-fat versions of dairy products and leaner meats.
-Stay away from empty calories that provide calories but little nutrition.
-Limit your intake of foods with added sugar and salt.
-Limit prepackaged foods and fast foods, which are generally over-processed, full of preservatives and high in sodium.
-Drink 6-8 glasses of filtered water each day, while avoiding soft drinks and limiting fruit juice.
Should I add supplements?
Many health experts do recommend that you supplement your diet with a good quality vitamin/mineral product. However, keep in mind that supplements cannot take the place of eating good quality, nutritious foods. Fresh, whole foods have components that simply cannot be isolated and put into a pill. There is also much we still don’t know about what your body needs for optimum health, except that fresh, whole foods seem to help provide it. Supplements should live up to their name by merely supplementing the healthy foods you eat.
What if I don't like so-called "healthy" foods?
There is a myth out there that if a food is healthy, it won’t taste good. When you consider all of the wonderful fruits, vegetables, lean meats, beans, whole grains, etc., it’s difficult to imagine that there aren’t a number of foods in these groups that would taste good. If you don’t like tofu or bran muffins, don’t eat them! But find some healthy foods you do like. If you have accustomed yourself to junk food, you may have to retrain your palate and your thinking a bit, but you may find that healthy foods become your new favorite foods!
Know your nutrients
One of the best healthy eating guidelines is to educate yourself about the foods you eat. This includes everything from reading labels to knowing the difference between nutrients and which foods are good sources.