There is so much information and hype on the types of diets that we should be eating, until the average individual may be confused as to who to listen to. If you have health concerns such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, you really may be in a tizzy, since there are inherent dietary restrictions with these diseases. And, if weight loss is a concern, as it is of many Americans, myself included, then this issue opens up another complete can of worms as far as what we should be putting in our mouths. Questions arise such as how can you eat healthy while cutting on down fats, sugar and salt without cutting out nutrition?
Whether your problem is weight, a medical condition, or just wanting to eat healthier, I have taken a look at some pointers that might help many get on track with a good basic diet. And hopefully, this will provide motivation to make some positive changes in your lifestyle.
What are you eating? A Personal Health Assessment
First things first. I think that the most important way to really identify what an individual is eating is by first sitting down, and objectively examining every morsel of food that crosses their lips. Nothing in life seems to add up so quickly as entries in a food diary. But, this is a good place to start idea in order to see what you are really eating. With that information in mind, then we can begin to tackle the problem of cleaning up the diet and learning to make more intelligent food choices. I can personally admit that it is not easy, but it certainly can be done.
Include in that diary or log, when you eat, the time, who you were with, what you were doing and finally the types of feelings you had when you were eating. This helps you to identify patterns and triggers for when and why you eat the things you do. This is a great way to learn something about one’s self, too. Triggers for eating can be discovered, such as stress or comfort seeking. Is the reason that you mindlessly polish off a pint of Haagen Daz merely for boredom, or for comfort after a bad day at work?
A good time frame to do this would be for about one week. Then, sit down with the information and identify patterns and problems, perhaps that you didn’t even know existed, that can be remedied.
Remember, the process can be slow. A little at a time. Just move in a positive direction. Arm yourself with knowledge.
Learn about the Food Guide Pyramid
Some changes have been made in the Food Guide Pyramid. It’s a good idea to become familiar with them so you can keep these things in mind when doing food shopping and preparing meals.
At the bottom of the Pyramid is the bread, cereals, rice and pasta group. It is suggested that we get 6-11 portions of food daily from this group. Now, what is one serving or portion?
One slice of bread is one serving; ½ cup of rice or pasta, ½ cup of cereal or 1 ounce of cereal are also one serving. Not much, right?
Next group is vegetables. We should be eating 3-5 servings or veggies. This is equivalent to ½ cup of vegetables or 3/4 cup of vegetable juice or 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables.
Following vegetables are fruits. We should be eating 2-4 servings of fruit daily. One fruit serving looks something like this: one medium fresh fruit, 1/4 cup of dried fruits, ½ cup chopped, cooked or canned fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice.
The milk group is next and would one serving would be 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1-1/2-2 ounce of cheese.
The meat group is 2-3 servings daily. That would be red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dried beans and nuts. One serving of meat (lean) would be 2-3 ounces. Now that would be about ½ cup of beans, one egg, one third cup of nuts.
Finally, the last group is the fat group. The top of the Pyramid. We should be eating the least of these. Use sparingly. The diet should consist of no more than 30% of fast: 10% from saturated fat, 10% from monounsaturated fats, and 10% from polyunsaturated fats.
That is it! That is the complete picture. It will take some thinking and retraining to eat like this as we have become so accustomed to super-size everything.
A few last Pointers
It is important for overall health to remember to:
Eat regularly and do not skip meals! The metabolism becomes sluggish this way, making it harder to loose weight.
Get plenty of fresh air and exercise.
Don’t eat too late. No more than two to three hours before bedtime.
Plan meals ahead of time.
The best time is now to start your new health regimen. Remember your health is in your hands.
References: Eliopoulos, Charlotte, “Invitation to Holistic Health, A Guide to Living a Balanced Life”