Start Eating Healthy
To be able to eat healthy, you need to understand what the body needs to stay healthy and functional. Your body needs food for three main reasons. Firstly as fuel, to keep us warm and supply the energy we need to stay alive and to move about and work. Secondly, food supplies the necessary materials for growth and to repair worn tissues. Thirdly we need vitamins, minerals and other substances that are necessary for the chemical processes that take place inside our bodies.
The energy supplied by food is measured as kilojoules. Two-thirds of this energy is used to maintain our normal body temperature, the normal tone of our muscles and to keep our heart and other vital organs functional and healthy. Even when we stay in bed all day we will still need about two-thirds of our normal food intake to maintain our metabolic systems. Normal activities such as getting dressed, eating, walking, working and playing requires about 3350 kilojoules. A housewife uses about 9200 kilojoules to perform her basic household tasks.
The harder we work and the more we move about the more kilojoules we use up. Whatever kilojoules we use up in our daily activities, is supplied by food, but if we consume more kilojoules / food than the body needs you will gain mass. The aim of Eating Healthy is to get the balance right.
If you are NOT currently eating healthy, it can be difficult to start such a plan. IF you truly want to live the best lifestyle possible, then it is important for you to follow these tips to start eating more healthy. Firstly, rid your home of all foods that do not fall into the healthy categories. Keep junk foods and beverages out of your house, so that you will not be tempted. Keep healthy snacks like carrot sticks, yogurt, fresh fruit, or whole-wheat crackers on hand. In case you cannot bear to toss out the sweets, try keeping something on hand, like chocolate chips. Eating a few of these won’t ruin your diet but also will give you that little sugary fix you rave.
Secondly, take a few moments to learn about what foods are the healthiest for you and how they work in the body. Most people understand what fruits, vegetables, and low-fat means and that dairy products are good for you, but few people understand why.
What Does Vitamins and Nutrients Mean?
Vitamins and Nutrients nourishes the body. They consist of micro- and macro-nutrients which is essential for good health and is consumed in small amounts. These are absorbed by the body unchanged and have catalytic functions. Vitamins are classified as fat-soluble (A, D, E and K) or water-soluble (B and C). The former and vit. B12 tend to be stored in the body. Many elements present in food are essential for health such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Others termed trace-elements are iron, zinc and iodine.
Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are macro-nutrients and when digested turns into glucose, fatty acids, peptides and amino acids. Macro-nutrients are interchangeable sources of energy. If sufficient non-protein calories are not available, the body cannot produce proteins for tissue maintenance. Tissue replacements and growth does not occur and considerable more dietary proteins is required for positive nitrogen balance. The polyunsaturated fatty acids are termed essential fatty acids (EFA) and must be included in your diet. The EFA and B6 is crucial in the functions of the metabolism.
Fiber mainly a complex mixture of indigestible carbohydrate material is a natural and much neglected component of the normal diet. Fiber components act in various ways for instance, prevention of constipation. Many intestinal diseases ie: colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, obesity, varicose veins and hemorrhoids are associated with the lack of fiber in the diet. Fruit and vegetables rich in pectins reduce plasma cholesterol by enhancing hepatic cholesterol, to bile acids and reduces the forming of gallstones. Fiber is the most important part of any diet.
Five Basic Groups of Nutrients
The key is learning about nutrients. When you understand how specific nutrients work in the body, you will be more likely to make healthy choices.
No single food is essential to our diet. What is important is to eat a variety of foods, there are five basic groups:
Proteins for building up the body. Throughout life there is a continuous breakdown and loss of body tissues. If a person does not get enough protein to make up for this loss, some of the less vital protein tissues in the body, such as muscles are broken down to maintain vital organs like the heart and kidneys. Illnesses cause a considerable loss of protein like infections, burns, broken bones and the stress after surgery.
Carbohydrates provide energy. Carbohydrates is a collective term for sugars, starches and cellulose. Most sugars are eaten in the form of sweets, jams, biscuits, cakes and drinks. A small amount is from fruit. Starches are found in potatoes, rice, pastas, wheat and maize. When we eat starches it gets broken down to glucose which is absorbed into the blood stream as a form of sugar. Cellulose is not a source of energy but it is needed in the diet, because of it’s major source of fibre or roughage. It stays undigested in the intestines to promote regular bowel movements.
Fats provide energy and flavour. Fat is contained in milk products like cheese, cream, butter and meat (visible around tjops or hidden in the fibres), fatty fish like pilchards, kabeljou and eggs. Fats have several roles in the diet directly because of its nutritional value and indirectly in improving foods and making them easier to chew and swallow. Vitamins like A,D,E and K are found in these fatty foods and following a low fat diet you need to supplement these shortfalls. Fats are very important because of the energy it provides, it is twice as much as carbohydrates or protein. Fatty foods remain longer in the stomach than low-fat foods, so they provide a greater feeling of fullness.
Natural or Organic?
The term “Health Foods” include natural and organic grown fruit and vegetables, various pills and herbs. Some of these foods are nutritionally good and some such as herbs and ginseng are unproven. The term “Health Food” is very misleading since it implies that all other foods are unhealthy.
Vegetarianism: There is nothing nutritionally wrong with being a vegetarian, in fact most nutritionist recommend this type of diet because it is high in diet fibre, low in fats, more fruit and vegetables. Many vegetarians eat eggs and drink milk, on the other hand some don’t use animal products at all and are as far as known very healthy.
Whole Foods: Whole foods are better than refined foods. This means that wholewheat bread and flour are healthier than white bread and flour. Choosing unrefined rice and maize rather than refined. Brown sugar is very little different from white sugar.
Organic Grown Foods: Most farmers and gardeners fertilize their soil with sulfate of ammonia, potash and phosphate ect. They also add manure and compost as much as they can find. Advocates of organic farming claims that the use of chemicals is artificial and that foods that are grown naturally are more superior. In fact there is no difference between them. Organic farmers avoid the use of chemicals, weed killers and pesticides. A few tasting trials that were carried out, could not distinguish which are organically grown and inorganically fertilized foods. Nutritionally they are the same.
Sea salt: Most salt comes from underground mines and is highly purified. It usually have some magnesium carbonate (a harmless mineral salt) added to make it flow freely. Sea salt contains natural Iodine.
Honey: Honey is simply sugar and water with very small traces of several vitamins and mineral salts. The food value of a teaspoon of honey is the same as a ¾ teaspoon of ordinary table sugar.
Cider Vinegar, Kelp, “Live” Yogurt and Ginseng: Cider vinegar is made of re-fermented cider, meaning, it is made in a similar way as wine vinegar. Nutritionally it provides a few calories and nothing else.
Kelp is a seaweed and a source of iodine which is an essential nutrient with a few mineral salts of lessor importance. It has no special food value.
“Live” Yogurt contains the bacteria which turned the milk into yogurt, whereas ordinary yogurt has usually the bacteria killed by pasteurisation. If it was made of full cream milk instead of skim milk powder, it would have tasted better and of nutritional value, not because of the bacteria that are still alive. The bacteria do not survive inside the human intestines and do not provide any benefits.
Ginseng is the root of a bush that grows in China and Korea. A vast range of magical properties is attributed to it, again no evidence or truth that it works has ever been found.
Balanced Vitamins: Most health shops sell tablets of balanced vitamins that have been extracted from wheat, yeast or liver instead of being synthesised in a factory. They were balanced so far as the wheat plant or the yeast or the animal’s liver were concerned BUT they are not balanced for Human needs. Wheat contains very little B2. Vit B1 in yeast extract steadily falls while it sits on the shelf. The B vitamins in the liver extract will depend on how the animal was fed.
Herbs: Herbs have a mystical appeal since they were used as medicines for centuries. Some of them have no effect, some contains poison like Comfrey and Rhubarb and some contain small amounts of drugs like Fennel. Some modern medicines are extracted from herbs, quinine was originally extracted from tree bark. Pleasant drinks can be made from some herbs, leaves and petals but they have no beneficial effects.
Healthy Eating at a Restaurant: Is it Possible?
If you and your family love to eat out, you may think that this lifestyle is not good for a healthy diet. In many cases, you would be correct. You can still enjoy eating out at restaurants and maintain your healthy diet. It’s all about making good food choices, which starts with learning about the nutritional value of the food you eat and what your body needs to stay physically healthy, mentally stable, and active.
When you pick up the menu, start by skipping over the alcoholic drinks section. Although you may be tempted to enjoy a beer or mixed beverage with your dinner, these usually have many “bad” calories, which is not good for your body. The exception to this rule is when it comes to wine, especially red wine, which can be fine if you have a single glass.
Skip the appetizer menu, unless it’s a salad. The appetizers at restaurants are usually high-fat foods that are not meant to fill you up and can in fact make you crave for more. Examples of these are mozzarella sticks, potato skins, and chicken wings. Simply focus on the main course or if you must indulge, share a single serving with someone at your table.
Choosing the main dish is very important. Look at the ingredients of the dish. Anything with cream sauces or high-fat meats should be avoided and pass the potatoes and onion rings. Instead order side dishes like green salad and vegetables or ask for just the main course when possible.
Remember that portions is everything. Try to order from the lunch menu whenever you can, and ask for a doggie-bag right away. Split your meal in half from the start, so that you are not tempted to eat the entire plate, which is usually enough for two or three portions.
SKIP the desert menu, just like you did with the appetizers. If you have to have desert share or split your portion in half. Many fancy desserts at restaurants have more calories than your entire meal, so keep this in mind before you flag down the waitress to put in an order! Of course, on special occasions, it’s alright to cheat a little, but overall healthy eating requires lots of resisting temptations around you.
Healthy Eating While Traveling
Sticking to healthy foods while traveling can be one of the most difficult things to do in your life. If you learn how to make smart choices, then healthy eating is really not that difficult. This is probably not the best time to start a healthy eating program, but if you are currently making healthy choices in your foods already, modifying your diet slightly to accommodate travel is not as it first may seem.
When you are traveling by airplane, you may have to eat airplane food which can often be of poor quality, depending on the selection. When you book your flight, ask about your food options and ask if a vegetarian dish is available. Vegetarian dishes are sometimes more nutritional in this case, but it really depends on what they will be serving. If you can eat a larger meal before your flight, you don’t have to eat the meal that is served.
When driving or taking a bus, you may be tempted to stop at fast food restaurants. Avoid this whenever possible! If you’re on vacation, you may wish to splurge a tiny bit, but having fast foods more than once during a week can really be bad for you. If you must, choose the healthiest options available chicken breasts and diet soda is good choices.
Remember that you can take your own food when traveling. Carrying a loaf of whole-wheat bread or pita wraps, some lean lunch meat, and low-fat cheese in a cooler is a great way to avoid high-fat and high-cholesterol junk food meals. These are much better choices and you’ll save a lot of money as well. Call ahead to ask if there will be a refrigerator in your hotel room.
Lastly, make smart choices when you eat out. If you choose salads or pasta get the dressing on the side and ask about low-carb options. In fact, many places print these options directly in the menu for the health conscious people. Control your portions by ordering lunch menu sizes or splitting the meal in half and don’t forget to get a doggie bag. You’ll be well on your way to healthy eating, even away from home.
Yes, eating healthy foods when you travel can be a challenge. Your health is worth it. When you eat good foods, you will also fight off illnesses that you are likely to encounter when traveling and you will be more alert so that you can enjoy your trip.
Healthy Eating and Peer Pressure
Whether you are on a diet or simply enjoying a healthy lifestyle, you probably know that peer pressure to eat foods that are not good for you, is a major part of your life. If you are concerned about the food that goes into your stomach, don’t worry, there are ways to overcome peer pressure. It simply takes a little know-how to get people off your back!
Parties are a major source of peer pressure, especially with alcohol. Alcohol contains hundreds of calories in just one drink take beer for an example: “one beer equals a loaf of bread” so when you go to a party, people might be pressuring you to have a drink and relax. It can be difficult to say no when they are constantly trying to convince you. Offer to go with to a bar instead. That way, you become the designated driver, they won’t want you to drink and drive, in fact, they will not pressurise you to drink. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Other times when you may feel under pressure to eat, is at work, when the boss orders lunch for everyone at a meeting or when you have to visit a client. Instead of giving in to temptation, simply politely decline the food by letting your boss know in advance or order a meal that is healthy and split the portion in half so you have a meal for tomorrow’s lunch as well.
Baby showers, weddings, birthday parties, and other special events can also wreak havoc on your diet, even if you are good at resisting temptation on your own. When someone hands you a piece of cake and won’t take no for an answer, it can be difficult to know what to say! Here a little white lie might be appropriate. For instance, say that your stomach was upset earlier in the day, will convince a person that you don’t want to eat at the moment or pretending to have a chocolate allergy, will get people to allow you to enjoy the party without a hassle surrounding food.
Refusing bad foods is fine, you should be eating good foods.
If you do not change your eating habits, disorders can develop, which will give your family, friends and doctor a real reason to be worried about your health. It’s ok to say no to peer pressure, but don’t say no to food in general!
Thanks to Drienie De Villiers