As a dietitian and a health advocate I believe that the word “DIET” should not be a phase or short time situation to be implemented for a period of time in order to lose weight then go back to unhealthy eating habits.
A Diet should be a lifelong habit or a lifestyle, a healthy lifestyle should include both eating healthy & being physically active.
What are the BENEFITS of adopting a healthy lifestyle?
- Weight control; A healthy diet will help remove excess weight and maintain a healthy weight which leads to a better physique and improves self-confidence.
- Fighting diseases; eating a healthy balanced diet lowers diseases risk such as diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cancer and osteoporosis.
- Diabetes Control, eating healthy prevents or slows down diabetes complications.
- Supports a healthy brain & boosts memory; eating healthy can lower risk of developing depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Healthy skin; nutrients as antioxidants in a healthy diet help fight wrinkles and support collagen synthesis in skin.
- Boosts energy and mood; what you eat will affect your mood and energy in positive or negative way; certain foods can increase serotonin levels and improve gut microflora which in turn improves mood through gut-brain axis while other foods as those high in sugar are associated with increased risk of depression and anxiety.
- Living longer; what you eat can help extend your longevity.
- Recent studies have shown that what you eat and the amount of exercise you do can change your genetic make up which will be extended to your offspring as well.
Eating healthy can be very easy if you follow the next tips:
- Have REGULAR meals, include one or two healthy snacks in between as fruits, nuts or yogurt .This will help control your blood sugar and hunger levels throughout the day.
- Variation! Include all 5 groups of food in your diet; carbohydrates e.g.: brown rice, potato – protein as fish, chicken - vegetables & fruits –fats as nuts, olive oil and avocado.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Include at least 4-5 different color each day to ensure getting different nutrients for optimum health.
- Stay well hydrated; drinking enough water is crucial to keep our bodies functioning & it also helps in weight control.
Limit salt, Sugar, processed foods, trans fats & hydrogenated oil as much as possible:
- - Use herbs and spices instead of salt to add flavor your foods.
- - Don’t keep sweets and high fatty snacks at home or in the office.
- - Avoid doing grocery shopping when hungry.
- Use healthy cooking methods as grilling, baking, steaming, pouching, sautéing, & stay away from deep frying and prolonged cooking.
- Switch to complex carbs; such as brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, brown pasta.
- Be physically active, aim to do 150 mins of moderate exercise per week.
- Make the time to plan and prepare for your meals, waiting until the last minute usually will lead you to choose a less healthy option or junk food.
- Make changes gradually, it’s important to be aware what habits you want to add, remove or change in your daily routine in order to implement them.
- Keeping a food diary will also allow you identify the changes you need to make to your diet and let you keep track of your food intake & choices.
Lastly a very important note I want to mention is that we are all humans, it’s absolutely normal to have cravings, but if you follow previously mentioned tips most of the times, you can enjoy an occasional cheat every once in a while.
Feda Al Kilani