In an effort to fight obesity and other life-risking diseases related to poor nutrition, the Australian government website, Eat for Health devised five dietary guidelines to help with healthy eating. These dietary guidelines include:
- Be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs
- Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups
- Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugar and alcohol
- Encourage support and promote breastfeeding
- Care for your food
The same website, supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council and Department of Health and Ageing, also outlines the different food groups:
- Vegetables and legumes
- Milk, yogurt, cheese or alternatives
- Lean meats and poultry, fish eggs
Adhering to these suggested foods can be hard, especially if you are just starting to eat healthy.
Healthy habits need practice
It is said that for a practice to become a habit you need to do it for 21 days. After that, it will become second nature in your daily routine. In eating healthy though, it may take more than that for some people. When changing your diet, you need to start small and steady until the whole thought process becomes embedded in you.
If you need help to get started, Choose my Plate website offers personalized plans for different people with different lifestyles. The trick that most experts advise is to start including healthy foods to your usual meals. When you have become used to this, start substituting your meals with healthy alternatives.
It’s all about balance, variety and moderation!
Tips to Maintain the Habit
Portion control is the best way to keep your food and health in check. Keep your portions small and your unhealthy choices even smaller. Include fruits and veggies on your plate and cut out the fatty portions.
Keep portioning your plate and servings even on party buffets and even when eating out. And when you feel that you have plenty of meat in your lunch, you can try to lessen it during dinner or vice versa. The same goes for your sweets and carbs too.
Don’t eat while doing other things
This is one habit you should cut. Numerous studies found that eating food while doing other things may make you unmindful of what you put in your mouth. For example, when watching television, you may often focus on what you are watching without minding that you’ve already munched on three packets of junk foods. This can also happen when you’re surfing the internet or reading a book.
Instead, make eating a standalone habit. Savour your meals at the table. This way, you will have plenty of time to check what you are munching and the amount of food you have already ingested. When you are full, you are also more likely to feel it right away if you are focused on your food.
Still need something to snack on during TV marathons? Keep vegetable sticks at hand or have a platter of different fruits. Instead of soda, make a fruit smoothie or brew some herbal tea.
Get rid of the junk food stimuli
When temptation starts to rise to the surface, get rid of the stimuli. Most of the time, a person that is tempted to eat junk foods is one who has it at hand. To stop this, clear your pantry of chips and other calorie laden food products. Check your refrigerator as well. Get rid of all your ready to cook meals since they are usually filled with unhealthy seasonings and preservatives.
Eat out responsibly
If eating out is unavoidable, make sure you choose the healthiest foods on the menu or request for your food to be cooked healthily. For example, ask if you can have your food baked instead of fried. Or check calorie counts since most of the time they’re written on the menu.
Write down what you eat
Keeping a food diary can make you become more aware of what you eat, how you eat it and when you eat it. Revisiting your food entries later may help you make wiser decisions in the future. You can use an actual notebook for your food diary or use a digital equivalent on your phone. Try some of the apps featured in this Red Book Mag article.
Eating slowly will help your digestive system know when it is full enough. Eating fast may make you unattuned to what your body is saying. You will only feel you have over eaten after the meal. Know when to stop. This trick is best paired with the right portion control so in case you are absentmindedly stuffing your food into your mouth, you will still be eating the right portion of it.
Cut out fats and processed foods
Fatty substances can be found in most fried foods. It is also ever present in foods from fast-food joints and from ready-to-eat meals. Processed foods often are laden with these unhealthy fats that are blamed for the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and other medical illnesses today.
However, not all fats are considered unhealthy. Helpful fatty acids include PUFA which helps in boosting the immune system and strengthening the body’s defences to fight diseases such as CVDs and diabetes. These fatty acids can be found in fish, krill and calamari oil.
Use cooking alternatives
First, use alternative ingredients when cooking and second, use an alternative in your style of cooking. For the former, instead of using ordinary cooking oil, you may use olive oil or coconut oil when cooking. There are also healthy sweeteners to be used instead of sugar. For the latter, avoiding frying is a good way to cut on fats. Broiling, steaming and baking are good alternatives.
Eat your breakfast
Skipping your breakfast is a no no when it comes to eating healthy. It’s the most important meal since it kick-starts your day.
Eat a healthy breaky and pile your plate with energy boosters.
Reading labels is as important as choosing the right foods. Labels contain the dietary guidelines. Reading between the lines, and knowing what some of the finer print says may help you check the ingredients of the food you are putting inside your body.
Eat meals on time
Skipping meals does you no good. Eating promptly will often keep you from over-craving. So, make your eating schedule regular. Eat breakfast early and don’t skip lunchtime. When eating dinner, do not have it served past 7pm.
Exercise increases metabolism and keeps your overall system tuned. Keep doing it daily to back up your healthy eating habit.
Weigh yourself only once a week
Do not weigh yourself every day. If you do, you’ll get frustrated with the little progress. To see some significant results, weight yourself once a week. This way, you will see the difference of the pounds you shed from your past weeks’ weight.
Benefits of Healthy Eating
Healthy eating doesn’t just make you strong physically; it also may help you achieve the following benefits:
Weight control. Good eating habits may help stabilize your weight. It may keep unwanted fats away.
Avoids diseases. The healthy foods you are eating boost your immune system which may help you avoid diseases.
Boosts energy. When your work requires strength, your food should be your fuel. Eating the right energy booster may help your performance.
Improves mood. Psychological imbalances often are affected by poor nutrition. You may boost your mental health by adding more mind boosting foods to your diet.
Lengthens life. Of course, the healthier you are, the longer your life will be.
Healthy eating shouldn’t be a compulsory practice prompted by outside sources; in fact it may be rendered useless by other outside forces easily. Rather, getting the motivation from within yourself may help your habits last longer.