All of us have busy lives and we often resort to quick, easy to eat foods when we’re on the go. This might be convenient, but it isn’t always the best option in terms of maintaining our health.
Looking for a quick and easy solution?
(You really are into convenience, aren’t you?)
Well, you’re in luck! We’ve put together a Top 10 list just for you, so look no further.
Check out the following healthy eating facts to help you on your path to a healthy lifestyle.
Once you’re more familiar with these healthy eating facts, you’ll be well on your way towards preparing healthy meals for yourself and your family!
The Healthy Diet Top 10 Facts
A healthy diet includes various components, and it doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. Here are the top 10 answers to the question, “What is a healthy diet?”
1. Varied Food Selection
Eating a varied diet is important because this can help us to be sure that we are getting all of the different vitamins and minerals that we need.
This means eating a variety of foods, in all of the colors of the rainbow.
A varied diet includes:
- Lean meat
- Whole grains
Different colored foods tend to contain different types of vitamins and minerals, as well as powerful antioxidants that help to fight free radicals in the body.
Eating a varied diet also helps to ensure that we are getting all of the essential amino acids required for the body to complete its various processes.
One of my favorite ways to keep a varied diet fresh and exciting is to see what’s new at the local farmer’s market.
We eat with our eyes first, and the farmer’s market is a great place to look for delicious, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, as well as some items that you may never have tried before.
Not sure how to prepare something?
Just ask the farmer or farm stand operator for suggestions.
2. Low in Saturated Fat
Saturated fat is typically solid at room temperature, like the fat found in butter, cheese and meat.
In contrast, unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature, like the fat in olive oil.
Saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease, whereas mono- and polyunsaturated fats are not thought to have this effect.
In order to add healthy fat-containing foods to your diet, focus on:
- Vegetable oils
- Fresh avocado
- Lean meats
For a quick snack, I love to eat unsalted cashew butter on whole grain toast, or homemade guacamole dip with black bean and flax seed tortilla chips.
3. Rich in Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods
You may have noticed that all of the foods that have been mentioned so far are whole foods (generally speaking – yes, cashew butter is made of ground up cashews and olive oil is made from pressed olives, but they may be made with minimal processing and no additives).
This means they have undergone little to no processing, and they are delicious that way!
Eating a whole foods diet that is comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish and lean meats is one of the best ways to ensure that you are eating a nutrient-dense diet, and getting the proper nutrition as a result.
If you’re someone who tends to rely a lot on processed foods as part of your regular diet, making this change may require a major shift in your lifestyle.
One great way to start is to search online for healthier homemade versions of your favorite per-prepared, packaged and processed foods.
4. Low in Unhealthy Empty Calories
The opposite of whole foods are processed foods, and they’re generally not as healthy for us.
Though a bag of chips, a candy bar and a soda may in fact be a quick lunch that can be found almost anywhere, these items are mostly comprised of empty calories.
Empty calories are the opposite of nutrient-dense calories. This means the energy (and the flavor) found in these foods mostly comes from pure sugar and fat, plus a high level of salt, with little true nutrient value to speak of.
Though these foods may taste great, they’re generally devoid of nutrients.
Elevated salt (known as sodium), saturated fat, and sugar (known as glucose) levels in the blood are unhealthy, and they tend to make your body work harder to keep balance. Over time, this can result in lasting health problems.
Cutting processed foods out of your diet is a great way to avoid this, and to get your health back on track.
5. Based on a Plan
Now that we’ve mentioned a few items that can be added to one’s diet, as well as a few things that should be avoided as part of these healthy eating facts, this is an excellent place to pause and consider the importance of a healthy meal plan.
This is a great way to create easy meals for yourself ahead of time, which will help you to stay on track with your new diet.
It’s important to point out that healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming.
6. Eat More Slowly
Even though eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to be inconvenient, here’s another reason to slow down: you need to give your body a chance to realize that it’s full.
Many of us eat so quickly, we fail to realize that our bodies are sending us signals in response to the food we’re putting in.
Over time, we learn to ignore these signals altogether, and this often results in overeating and indigestion.
Rather than eating a quick power bar while you stand in line at the bank, or shoveling in a few slices of pizza in front of the TV, try to make dining a more enjoyable, relaxing experience.
To get you started, check out the tips below this list.
7. Rich in Omega-3s
In addition to protein, vitamins and minerals, fatty fish like salmon, trout and tuna are a good source of heart-healthy omega-3s.
Try to eat fish about once a week, and change up the varieties for added nutritional benefits.
A fish dinner doesn’t have to be complicated. I like to serve pan-seared fish with a simple sauce, a whole grain, and a side of roasted vegetables.
As a fun alternative, fish can be steamed in the oven in a foil pouch, with cherry tomatoes, lemon and fresh herbs.
8. High in Healthy Hydration
Even though this is a list of healthy eating facts, healthy drinks are a key element of every nutritious diet as well.
When it comes to hydration, pure water is your number one best friend.
Our bodies are made up of mostly water, and water is necessary for so many bodily functions.
If that isn’t enough of a reason to switch your beverage of choice over to H2O if you haven’t already, here’s another—many of the most popular beverages are full of empty calories from sugar, salt and fat.
Even fruit juices are high in sugar, and often contain added sugar in addition to natural sugars.
Soda and sports drinks are even worse, since they’re largely devoid of nutrients. And coffees, teas, sodas and sports drinks with added caffeine actually help to dehydrate you, leaving you wanting more.
Water is really all you need, and many whole foods contain water as well, contributing to your daily water intake.
9. High in Nutritious Whole Grains
Whereas healthy whole grains are rich in nutrients and absorbed slowly by the body, highly refined grains are essentially the same as sugar in a nutritional sense.
This is because foods like white bread and white rice are digested quickly and turned into glucose, which is absorbed almost immediately into the bloodstream, resulting in insulin spikes and possible insulin resistance.
This may ultimately lead to the onset of diabetes, so it’s not a good thing.
On the other hand, whole grains like brown rice, oats, whole wheat, millet, buckwheat and quinoa (technically a seed but eaten like a grain, so we’ll let this one slide) still contain the bran and the germ that have been removed from the refined grains.
Sure, this gives them their bright white color and smooth texture, but it also takes away most of the healthy fiber, vitamins, minerals and oils that are still intact in whole grains.
The fiber that’s present in whole grains allows the body to digest and absorb them more slowly than the highly refined stuff, reducing the likelihood of insulin spikes. As was mentioned before, this is a good thing.
Perhaps you have an aversion to the more firm texture of whole grains (and fiber-rich vegetables).
The fact is, this is something that may take some getting used to, but you will adjust more quickly than you think.
There are many wonderful and amazing whole grains (and veggies!) out there, and so many different ways to prepare them. Consider this an adventure.
Bonus: Popcorn is a whole grain. You can thank me later. Just remember not to drown it in salt and butter, or you’re essentially cancelling out the benefits of eating it.
10. Personalized and Unique
Everyone has different nutritional requirements, based on age, gender, body type, activity level, health, and other factors.
A pregnant woman in her thirties has different nutritional needs than an eight-year-old boy, or a ninety-two-year-old man.
All of the above advice should be adapted to fit your personal needs, in order to achieve optimal health and nutrition.
How can you do that?
First, you can start by consulting with a health care practitioner, like your family doctor, an allergist, or a dietitian.
If you have known food allergies or digestive issues, certain foods may not be for you.
If you have difficulty maintaining adequate levels of certain nutrients, a doctor may recommend that you add certain foods or nutritional supplements to your diet.
A doctor may need to know more information about your diet, and he or she may do tests to determine certain information about your general health as well as allergy response levels, and levels of things like sugars, fats and nutrients in your blood.
Before making any major changes to your diet, be sure to consult with a health care professional first.
Simple Tips for Slower Eating
- Add herbs and spices to you cooking to create unique and enticing flavor combinations, and enjoy fresh, whole foods at the peak of ripeness.
- Take the time to really enjoy fresh nutrient-rich foods that look and taste good, and serve smaller portions.
- Eat at the dinner table, with a dining companion if possible, instead of sitting in front of the TV.
- Put your fork or sandwich down in between bites.
- Really taste your food, and chew it thoroughly.
- Keep the serving dishes off the dining table, and only go for seconds if you are truly hungry at the end of the meal.
Quick Tips for Following an Eating Plan:
- Remember to base your meals around fresh, whole foods in a variety of colors.
- Change up your meal choices from week to week.
- Pick a few recipes before you head out to the grocery store, and resist the temptation to throw unhealthy, non-nutritive (“empty calorie”) foods into your cart.
- Prep fruits and veggies ahead of time, so they’re ready for snacking or adding to a whole grain pasta dish or stir fry.
- Prep protein ahead of time, too grilled chicken or fish makes an excellent salad topping or sandwich filling.
- Plan healthy snacks and put individual portions of nuts, seeds and dried fruit into sandwich bags at the beginning of the week.
- Everything doesn’t have to be fresh, make a double batch of your favorite healthy dishes and freeze individually portioned meals to defrost and eat later.