By Brandi Monasco
Maybe you are ready for a change in the way you look or feel. Maybe your doctor told you that you need to lose a few pounds. Maybe you are tired of feeling tired and sluggish.
Whatever your reason, NOW is the time to start taking care of yourself.
When you first begin a diet (or rather, a lifestyle change), you can feel overwhelmed. There are so many different “types” of diets out there that claim to be the “best.” You have Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watcher and so many more.
The problem, however, isn’t figuring out which diet is best for you or how many calories you need to count. You first should focus on the basics of a healthy diet to make that lifestyle change.
The basics of maintaining a healthy diet:
1. Understand what is real food. Real food is anything that has grown on trees, in the ground, came out of the lake or the sea, ran on land or even flew through the air. Fish, eggs, meat, vegetables and nuts.
2. Understand what is NOT real food. This can include anything in the vending machine, a wrapper, a box, even a drive-through window. If it has a long ingredients list, it is not real food.
3. Drink plenty of water. You want to make sure that you are always hydrated. Water helps in flushing out toxins and waste from your body. It also helps you feel full. When you are dehydrated, you can often mistake thirst for hunger, so when you are hydrated, you won’t have those annoying cravings for unhealthy foods.
4. Eat your fruits and vegetables. The USDA recommends that your plate is half full of fruit and vegetables. Eat a variety of fruit, especially whole, organic fruits. Include vegetables from every group such as dark green, red, orange, even legumes. This can include both fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.
5. Eat grains. You will want to avoid the refined grains such as white bread or white rice. Refined grains have been processed and this removes nutrients, dietary fiber and iron. Instead, opt for brown rice or quinoa that are made from whole grains.
6. Cut down on sugar and saturated fat. Sugary foods and drinks can contribute to weight gain, which in turn can increase your risk for health diseases and issues. Cut down on the cookies, pastries and anything that includes processed, refined sugar.
Saturated fat (the “bad” fat) is found in cream, butter, cheese and many other food products. Men should have less than 30g of saturated fat per day while women have less than 20g per day. Choose ghee instead of butter and lean meat to cut down on saturated fat.
7. Focus on how you feel after eating. When you eat a healthy meal or snack, you will usually feel full, happy and energized. If you eat an unhealthy meal or snack, you might feel drained of energy, nauseous and even uncomfortable. This is your body telling you that these unhealthy foods are not working for your body!
When you start learning about the basics of a healthy diet, choosing your next meal or snack won’t be such an issue anymore. After a while, it will become a habit and your new healthy lifestyle!
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