Healthy Eating for Weight Loss
Eating a healthy diet is about more than just losing weight. It’s about developing a relationship with food that keeps you healthy and happy for your entire life. It’s about eating in a way that reduces your risk of disease, improves your physical and mental health and helps you control your weight in the process. The word diet has two different meanings. When you’re trying to lose weight, it often means depriving yourself of certain foods in an effort to slim down. But in a general sense, your diet is simply the food you habitually eat. Though weight loss diets are often short-lived, an overall healthy diet is something you should strive to make a habit of for your entire life. There is no one-size-fits-all healthy diet. Each of us has different needs and preferences that should be reflected in the foods we eat. But every healthy diet shares the same basic principles:
Making Balanced Choices
To maintain good health, we need to eat foods that contain important nutrients. However, these nutrients can come from a variety of sources, and determining the best way to include them in your diet is a matter of staying informed and choosing wisely.
- Protein. This nutrient helps us build and maintain muscle mass and can be used for fuel. It also helps us feel full and satisfied after a meal. The healthiest protein sources tend to be lean meats like fish and chicken, as well as nuts, legumes and low-fat dairy.
- Fiber. This nutrient is crucial to digestion, and like protein, it helps us feel satiated. The best fiber sources tend to be whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Healthy fats. We need fat in moderation to support many bodily functions, like the absorption of certain vitamins. However, some fats are healthier than others. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are found in fish, olive oil, poultry, avocado and nuts, are the healthiest varieties.
- Vitamins and minerals. From vitamin A to zinc, we need many different vitamins and minerals to function and develop normally. To get all the vitamins and minerals we need, it’s important to eat a variety of foods. Most vitamins and minerals can be found in fruits and vegetables, but they also come from meat and dairy products.
In general, we can also help ourselves eat a healthy diet by setting limits on things that are often eaten in excess, such as:
- Saturated and trans fats
- Processed and refined carbohydrates
Eating Reasonable Portions
How much we eat is just as important as what we eat. Eating too little may leave us malnourished, while eating too much can set us up for weight gain and health problems. Eating too much or too little of certain types of food can cause us to miss out on important nutrients. Eating proper portions involves listening to your body and planning out the amount of each food you eat. By slowing down when you eat and paying attention to both your hunger and the proportions of different foods on your plate, eating a healthy and balanced amount of food becomes easier.
Getting Involved in the Food You Eat
Due to the rise of fast food and packaged, processed meals, many of us have become disconnected from the process of preparing food. We may also rush through meals, with too little time to give much thought to what we’re actually eating. Eating a healthy diet involves becoming more aware of the ingredients in your food and how they are prepared. Reading nutrition labels, purchasing nutritious ingredients and learning about cooking methods that maximize the nutritional value of your food can be cornerstones of a healthy diet. Becoming more involved in and mindful of food preparation will help you ensure that every meal is as healthy as possible by keeping you in control.