According to an NPR study that was conducted a few years ago, about 75% of Americans believe that they eat what would be considered a healthy diet. But if that were true, there’s a good chance that the country’s obesity rate wouldn’t be as high as it is right now.
The truth is that most Americans don’t know what it means to maintain a healthy diet, much less eat one. Just about everyone could benefit from learning the healthy food definition and gathering more information about healthy food in general.
Do you suspect that your current diet isn’t quite as healthy as it could and should be? You should work to change that by educating yourself about healthy eating and putting together a healthy eating plan.
When you eat healthier foods day in and day out, it’ll make your life as a whole so much better. Let’s take a closer look at what it means to eat healthily and discuss some of the foods that you should be working into your diet more often than you do now.
Before we get too deep into talking about eating healthy and how it can help you lead a better lifestyle, it’s important for you to know the healthy food definition. Many people are under the impression that everything that has the word “healthy” on it is good for them to eat, which is not always the case.
Generally speaking, healthy food is anything that is:
- Low in fat
- Low in saturated fat
- Low in cholesterol
- Low in sodium
Healthy food is also anything that has at least 10% of the vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, protein, fiber, and iron that your body needs.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration came up with these guidelines to help to clearly define healthy food. They did this because so many companies sell foods these days that are labeled “healthy” even though they’re not.
Check the packaging on food and get as much information about healthy food as you can before incorporating it into your diet. You want to make sure that it’s actually good for you before eating it.
Now that you know the healthy food definition, it’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture as far as healthy eating is concerned.
You need to know more than just which foods are “healthy” according to the FDA’s standards. You also need to know how exactly to work them into the mix on a daily basis so that you’re eating as healthy as possible.
Healthy eating involves taking all of the different healthy foods that are out there and mixing and matching them so that you’re giving your body all the nutrients that it needs. It also involves getting the correct portions of these foods so that you can keep yourself at a healthy weight and keep your entire system humming along.
Something like an apple is a healthy food. But obviously, you shouldn’t maintain a diet that consists of only apples. That wouldn’t be very healthy for your body since your system needs tons of different nutrients.
Instead, you should eat apples along with lots of other fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, and more to keep yourself at a healthy weight at all times. It’s essential for you to provide your body with nutrients through the foods that you put into it.
It would be pretty much impossible for us to sit here and list every single food that you should be eating to stay healthy. One of the great parts about healthy eating is that you can eat so many different healthy foods to keep yourself in excellent condition health-wise.
But with that being said, there are some foods that you should prioritize as part of a healthy eating plan to ensure your body is getting certain nutrients. Here are some of the foods we would suggest:
- Kale, which has a wealth of vitamin C and calcium in it
- Kiwis, which deliver more vitamin C and potassium than oranges and bananas
- Spinach, which is very rich in iron
- Eggs, which provide a lot of protein without many calories
- Lentils, which are loaded with protein
- Avocados, which are a great source of fiber
- Black beans, which contain both magnesium and antioxidants in them
- Chicken breasts, which have tons of protein in them without much fat
As you can see, your options are going to be almost endless when you start eating healthy. You can play around with different healthy eating combinations to keep things fresh.
If we asked you to sit down and come up with a list of the most unhealthy foods, you probably wouldn’t have much trouble generating a long list of them. Your list would include salty and sugary things like:
- Fried foods
- Potato chips
- Ice cream
- Processed cheese
- And almost anything you find on a fast-food menu
Yet, how many of you continue to eat these kinds of foods each and every day? The average person spends about $100 on fast food every month, which proves how hooked many people are on foods that play no part in eating healthy.
If you’re going to commit to eating healthier from now on, you need to begin by cutting just about all of the things we just mentioned out of your diet. The occasional cookie or slice of pizza isn’t going to kill you. But you are going to suffer from health issues if you eat things that are high in salt and sugar all the time.
There are a bunch of nutrients that your body needs every day in order for you to stay healthy. If you don’t get into the habit of delivering these nutrients to your body, it’s eventually going to take a toll on your health.
So what are these nutrients? We’ve named some of them already. But just so that there isn’t any confusion, here are the necessary nutrients:
- Vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin D, B vitamins, etc.)
- Minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, sodium, etc.)
- Fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
- Carbohydrates (complex, not simple)
Each of these nutrients plays a vital role inside your body when you get enough of them.
For example, the various vitamins that your body takes in will do things like:
- Boost your immune system
- Keep your bones strong
- Make your skin healthier
- Improve your cognitive function
- Help your body fight off certain types of cancer
Protein, on the other hand, will help your muscles, bones, and hair to grow. It’ll also provide your body with the fuel it needs at times.
Far too often, those who only eat unhealthy foods like pizza, cookies, and potato chips end up filling their bodies with things that don’t do them any good. These foods might fill them up, but they have little to no nutritional value.
We just talked quite a bit about why healthy eating is so important for people. When people don’t get healthy foods into their bodies, they don’t provide themselves with the nutrients that they need.
But it goes beyond that. When people willingly choose to put unhealthy foods into their bodies, they don’t just rob themselves of the nutrients they need. They also put themselves at an increased risk of developing certain health issues.
The aforementioned obesity is a great example of this. In this day and age, more than one-third of Americans are overweight and more than one-third are obese. This is largely because many people are putting unhealthy foods into their bodies that are high in calories and loaded with saturated and trans fats.
And obesity is just one of the many dangers of not eating healthy. People who aren’t eating healthy enough are also more susceptible to:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Severe nutritional deficiencies
The good news is that it’s never too late to make the necessary changes to your diet so that you can start eating healthy. As long as you’re still breathing, you can adjust your diet accordingly to make yourself a healthier person. It’ll just take some hard work on your part to make it happen.
Have you decided that you would like to start eating healthy?
First of all, congratulations. There are, unfortunately, too many people who never hit this point and don’t set out to do anything about improving their diets.
But we should point out that there is a reason for that. Eating healthy can be hard to do, especially when your body and mind are programmed to crave the salt and sugar found in many junk foods.
So where should you start? The key is to take things slow and to incorporate changes into your diet a little bit at a time. It’ll prevent you from going too overboard with the changes and setting yourself up to fail.
Begin by taking a look at your diet and finding areas in which it’s falling short right now. You might discover that you’re not getting nearly enough vitamins and minerals into your diet at the moment.
You can then work to change that by adding foods to your diet that will supply you with the necessary vitamins and minerals. At the same time, you can also work to cut out some of the foods that aren’t doing much good for your body when you eat them.
Again, we would advise that you steer clear of making massive changes to your diet overnight. You might be able to sustain those changes for a week or two. But after that, most people come crashing back down to earth.
By implementing changes slowly, you’ll increase the chances of them lasting. You’ll also start to change the way you think about food and the things that you put into your body.
As we just discussed, it’s almost impossible to overhaul your diet overnight. Most people can’t flip a switch and go from eating nothing but junk food one day to eating healthy the next.
Similarly, it’s impossible to experience quick results when you start tinkering with your diet to make it healthy. You’re not going to lose 20 pounds overnight or make your heart the healthiest it’s been in years in a day or two.
It’s going to take some time for you to see real results when you start eating healthy. You might not look or feel much different for days, weeks, or even months.
But your body will gradually begin to change when you treat it right by eating healthy. You’ll start to feel your energy levels go up, you’ll lose some weight, and you’ll make every part of your body healthier than it was before.
Eating healthy is one of the best ways to turn yourself into a much healthier person overall. But it’s not the only way to go about transforming your health.
You can also do it by:
- Getting the recommended amount of exercise
- Sleeping enough at night
- Lowering your stress levels
Additionally, you can become healthier by taking frequent trips to see your doctor and by thinking about going to see a chiropractor.