Making healthy food choices is important for physical and mental well-being as it helps improve cognitive performance, body composition and prevents health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and so on .
Healthy eating is not about strict dietary restrictions, rather it is about making smart food choices that will help increase your energy levels, boost your mood and maintain a healthy weight, thus improving your overall health .
Healthy eating is not complicated as you may think it to be. You just need to adhere to basic, simple tips of healthy eating in order to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
Read on to know the healthy eating tips for a healthier lifestyle.
1. Include the five food groups
One of the most important tips of healthy eating is including five major food groups in your diet. The five food groups are fruits, vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and dietary fat. Fruits and vegetables are rich in essential micronutrients and macronutrients that have been shown to protect against chronic diseases and maintain overall health. Eat five portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables daily .
Protein, known as the building blocks of the body is another important food group that should be a part of your meal. Proteins are made of amino acids that aids in building cells and repairing tissues. Foods which are rich in protein are chicken, eggs, fish, beans, lentils, milk products, nuts and seeds.
Carbohydrates provide fuel and energy to the body. They are classified as simple and complex carbs. Complex carbs found in whole and unprocessed plant-based foods are considered healthier than simple carbs, which are especially found in processed and sugary foods .
Dietary fat supports a number of your body's functions. Research studies have shown that choosing healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish and vegetable oils are essential for your health rather than the unhealthy fats found in red meat and whole fat dairy products .
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2. Cook your own meals
Cooking your meals at home can help you focus on what foods you are eating and help you self-monitor your diet properly. This will not only bring a change in your eating behaviours but also will help in maintaining your weight .
Preparing your own meals will also ensure that you are eating fresh, wholesome meals that will aid in boosting your energy, stabilising mood and promoting good sleep , .
3. Take your time to eat
It is important that you take your time to eat your meals as this will let you enjoy your food, focus on your food, prevent overeating and be mindful of your eating habits. So, eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly to experience the flavour, taste, aroma and texture. Avoid any kind of distractions and fix a time for your meals so that you can focus on your food .
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4. Eat your food with family
Eating your food in front of the television or computer will increase the risk of mindless overeating. Instead, sit at the table with your family members as it improves your eating habits and you also tend to eat healthier foods. In addition, sitting down for a meal with your family helps strengthen family bonds .
5. Stop emotional eating
Emotional eating is when you overeat to suppress and soothe your negative feelings such as sadness, loneliness, stress, anger and boredom and this can negatively affect your health . Keep a food diary and write what you eat and when you eat to help find out what is triggering your emotional eating, in this way you can control your emotional eating.
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6. Avoid eating late at night
Eating your dinner late at night can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, obesity, dyslipidemia (increased cholesterol levels) and high blood sugar . Try to have your dinner between 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
7. Have breakfast everyday
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day due to its multiple health benefits which includes providing your body with essential micronutrients and macronutrients, increasing cognitive performance, lowering body mass index (BMI) and improving quality of life. Studies have shown that an ideal breakfast meal should contain 20 to 35 per cent of daily energy needs obtained from dairy products, whole grain cereals and fresh fruit or juice without added sugar .
8. Limit high-sugar foods
High-sugar foods and drinks such as cakes, pastries, cookies and soda contain added sugars that have been shown to elevate the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and rise in blood pressure levels . So, in order to lead a healthy lifestyle limit the intake of foods high in added sugar.
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9. Cut back on salty foods
Processed and packaged foods such as soups, snacks, bread, sandwich and cold cuts meat are packed full of sodium. Consuming excess of sodium can raise your blood pressure levels, which in turn puts excess strain on your heart, kidneys and brain. As per the WHO recommendations, adults should consume less than 5 g of salt per day .
10. Reduce alcohol consumption
Alcohol consumption is detrimental to health as it increases the risk of chronic diseases such as alcoholic fatty liver disease, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It is advisable to limit the consumption of alcohol to keep yourself healthy .
11. Drink plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water is essential in the proper functioning of the body. Not drinking enough water leads to dehydration and this has a negative impact on your health. So, drink at least seven to eight glasses of water daily to hydrate your body .