A healthy diet means eating food rich in nutrients that help to improve or maintain good health, and prevent diseases. It comprises a balance of different categories of food and all the nutrients that are essential for bodily functions. Human body needs carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water from a variety of plant-sourced and animal-sourced food.
A healthy diet is about avoiding processed food and eating food (as much as possible) the way nature made them. It’s about choosing wholegrains over refined grains; snacking on fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds rather than on chips and donuts. Eating healthy does not mean depriving ourselves of certain groups of food, rather it means choosing the healthiest ones in each group of food. The cornerstone of a healthy diet is to eat nutritious food that tastes good, improves health, provides more energy and boosts the mood.
8 Tips for healthy diet
Adoption of a healthy diet is a gradual process involving removing unhealthy food and replacing them with healthy ones.
Here are some tips to follow as you make a gradual switch to a healthy diet.
Make you diet healthier by choosing whole-grain products over refined grains. Look for whole grains that are high on fiber and starchy. Whole grains offer health benefits such as reducing risks of developing health condition like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. Most whole grains are rich in B-vitamins and provide essential minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and manganese to the body.
Eat lots of veggies and fruits
Vegetables and fruits provide essential nutrients to the body and support good health. Choose dark-colored veggies and greens including tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes and bell peppers. Vegetables have positive effect on people with diabetes as they reduce blood sugar level in the long run. Fruits are loaded with health benefits – providing fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and water – and have been associated with reducing risks of developing diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart conditions.
Choose fish over meat
Protein provides energy for day-to-day activities, while supporting mental functions and mood. While choosing protein stick to eggs, fish, lean meat, nuts, beans and tofu. In case you have a choice, prefer fish over red meat as it offers vital minerals & vitamins. Eat two portions of fish every week and include oily fish (at least once) like salmon, trout, sardines or mackerel. Oily fish are high in omega-3 and promote heart health.
Reduce unhealthy fat
Reduce unhealthy fats or saturated fats that increase the risk of heart conditions. Saturated fats are high in certain food items such as sausages, pies, lard, hard cheese, cakes, butter and cream. Include healthy fats in the diet that contain omega-3s and promote heart and brain health. Choose food items such as vegetable oils and spreads, fatty fish and avocados that are rich in unsaturated fats.
Reduce sugar and salt intake
Avoid food containing high amount of added sugar as they cause weight gain and tooth decay. Regular consumption of food such as sweet breakfast cereals, pastries, chocolates, cakes and sweet fizzy drinks have added sugar that leads to obesity and other health conditions. Food that contains over 22.5g of sugar in a 100g package are considered to be high in sugar, while 5g or less in a 100g package are low sugar items. Some natural foods like honey, plant-based syrups as well as fruit juices and smoothies (even unsweetened ones) are high on sugar and must be taken in moderation.
Cut down your intake of salt to less than 6g per day. High salt diet increases blood pressure that may lead to heart conditions or stroke. Food items with over 1.5g salt in a 100g package are high on salt.
Maintain healthy weight
Regular exercises along with nutritious food is vital to maintain healthy weight. Obesity may lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer. A healthy weight prevents health conditions and promotes overall health and wellbeing. Adults trying to lose weight need to eat fewer calories and exercise more. Eating balanced and healthy diet is the best way to maintain an ideal weight.
Eat breakfast everyday
Do not skip breakfast as it provides nutrition to the body, after over 8 hours of fasting. Eat a healthy breakfast high in protein and wholegrains to lose or maintain a healthy weight. Include fruits and skimmed milk to top-up nutrition necessary for good health. Eating breakfast will keep you full for longer time and prevent unhealthy snacking before lunch.
Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration and to maintain the fluid balance in the body. All types of non-alcoholic beverages – including water, skimmed milk, and low sugar tea & coffee – are good for hydration. Avoid soft drinks and fizzy drinks as they are high in sugar and may damage your teeth. Adults need 6-8 glasses of water every day for important bodily functions.
Eat healthy for nourishment and feel the difference after every meal. The food you eat affects overall health and wellbeing. The way you feel about yourself, the health of your immune system, how energetic you feel at the end of the day, your mood and your cognitive ability depends on the food you consume. Adopting a healthy diet is the prescription for living a healthy and energetic life.