What Should You be Looking for in Your Diet?
So you have made the decision that you want to live a healthier and fit lifestyle and this includes a healthy balanced diet. Most people have a general idea of what is and is not good for their bodies but do not actually know how to get started and what information to start and how this can actually be achieved in everyday life. Personally, I prefer to live a more balanced healthy lifestyle. This means that the majority of my time I am trying to do all of the right healthy things for my body, I also take the time to treat myself every once in a while; and so from the experience that I can speak from I will share with you how to begin and maintain a healthy diet.
I will start with some of the basic information you will need to understand. The things you will want to be watching in your diet are your calorie intake, water intake, your fat intake, your carbohydrates intake, your protein intake, and your sugar intake. All of these things are necessary in your daily diet. Many have stigmas surrounding them and so first I must address these.
Your calorie intake is dependent on many things. It is dependent on your sex, your age, your weight, and your activity level. There are many tools out there that can assist you in determining what your daily calorie intake should be. While calorie intake is certainly important and is the key to weight loss I do not place too much importance on calories. Counting calories is not fun and you are constantly burning them off. I place just enough importance on them to understand around how much I am actually taking in, which will help me gauge whether I need to restrict or add more calories into my diet. This is what I recommend for everyone. Still carrying on with calories I highly, highly recommend that you restructure your daily meal plan to four or five meals a day. I am not only saying this because it is recommended by dieticians, but I am also speaking from personal experience. Consuming four to five meals a day of 300 to 400 calories each makes a world of difference. You will feel full more throughout your day, you will have more energy, and you will likely see a difference in your physical appearance and weight as well. So, I definitely recommend making this change in your eating habits, as well.
Water is the most basic element of our diets. We need it to stay hydrated throughout our days and we need it to survive. While there is no truly agreed upon amount of water required per day, doctors typically recommend that you are drinking at least eight cups of water per day. A healthy lifestyle requires that you drink plenty of water and this will result in benefits not only in how you are feeling but also in how you look as well. I recommend that with all meals and all drinks in between meals you choose to drink water. It is one of the simplest and easiest changes you can make in your life to be healthier. This will keep you hydrated without adding extra sugars and calories into your diet and it will keep you feeling fuller throughout your day. Fat is one of the most negatively portrayed macro nutrients out there and so most people think that they should be avoiding fat as much as possible. This is wrong. It is called a macro nutrient because it is so necessary in your diet, just a certain type of fat. The fats that you want in your diet are unsaturated fats. You do not want saturated fats and you most certainly do not want trans fats. This is important to remember because if you are only looking for items that are fat free you are actually doing yourself more harm. Firstly, because you are not providing your body with a necessary nutrient, but also because most foods that take the fat out of the food add extra sugar into them.
Just like fats carbs sometimes get a bad rap, but again they are necessary in your diet. You should be looking for foods that have complex carbs; carbs that are not just simple sugars. These carbs come from fiber and starch. They digest more slowly and they keep you feeling full longer. I do not have too much to say about proteins as there is much less negative stigma surrounding protein. Proteins only need to make up 10% of your diet. Sources of protein are lean meats, tofu, soy products, nuts, beans, and eggs.
Sugar is my biggest concern in my own diet and I think it absolutely should be in yours too. The reason for this is most Americans are consuming way too much sugar in their daily diets and they are often unaware of this as it is often hidden throughout their foods. While the less sugar the better, the recommend daily limit for sugar intake is 25 grams for women and 37 grams for men. Knowing this alone is one of the greatest tools I can give you in your journey towards healthier eating. You should begin to look at the nutrition panels on your food and see how absurdly high sugar levels are in your foods. Actively make a change in your eating habits once you notice where your greatest sugar intakes are coming from. Watch out for non-fat foods as there are often higher levels of sugar added to these. Cereals are also great offenders in the added sugar problem.
Now that I have discussed some of the most important aspects and nutrients in the foods you should be eating I want to discuss the best way to go about grocery shopping. Firstly, take advantage of all of the produce that is in season. You can never go wrong with eating vegetables and so pick up as many as you want. Fruit should also be included in your diet but only if it is whole fruit as it contains the fiber that fruit juices do not. Put more emphasis on vegetables in your diet than fruits as fruits still contain sugar, natural as they may be, it is still sugar. Do your best to avoid the center aisles of your grocery store as these have the most processed and preserved foods. If you choose not to buy fresh produce for any reasons always buy frozen fruits and vegetables as these will hold most of their nutrients and are not filled with preservatives such as canned fruits and vegetables are. Lastly, the easiest thing to cut from your diet that you will reap so many benefits from is soda. Do not buy any soda because it contains so much sugar and calories that are unnecessary. A rule that applies to all unhealthy foods and drinks is this. If you do not have it in your home, you just can’t eat it, and that is how I am best able to maintain a healthy diet.
One last thing I would like to add to this article is about balance. While on most days and in most aspects of your life you should be choosing to be healthy, but you should also be enjoying life. So, every once in a while you should also be treating yourself to the things that you enjoy. I just recommend having these things outside of your home. Do not buy them and keep them in your home because then they are constantly around and an option for you and really cannot count as a treat anymore. Life is about balance and enjoying the experience. I wish you luck in your healthy lifestyle!