Regarding healthy eating we have noticed thousands of people who have become experts about what to eat and what not to eat. There have been hundreds of diets marketed to the public, some of them reasonable, some crazy. Luckily, the basics of healthy eating are well understood and quite simple. Here is the first giant step to healthy eating: Add more fresh fruits and vegetables, and other whole foods, cut back on processed food and food with a lot of sugar, salt and fat. And if you’re overweight, try to eat less. Let’s touch briefly on each of the less healthy foods.
1. Sugar: Sugar is a natural source of energy and we’ve evolved with a strong appetite for it. The problem is, our early ancestors had a hard time finding much sugar at all. Our metabolism isn’t built to handle more than a little, and unless we’re careful, we’re eating a lot. The average American eats an astonishing two to three pounds of sugar each week, week in and week out. Sugar is implicated in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, suppresses the immune system, and has been linked as a major cause of hyperactivity, anxiety and depression.
2. Salt: Sodium, like sugar, is found in large amounts in most of the foods we eat. It’s an inexpensive way to make flavorless foods tasty. Unfortunately, salt is implicated in stroke, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. USDA guidelines recommend that no one consume more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, and no more than 1,500 mg for anyone over the age of 51, or of African descent or with high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease. To understand how living in accordance with these guidelines would change most people’s diets, a teaspoon of salt contains 2,325 milligrams of sodium. Cooking differently and finding salt-free seasonings and flavorings can help to make the change without taking the pleasure out of eating.
3. Fat: Fats, especially in America, are strongly connected with the pleasure of eating. Unfortunately, they are also linked to cardiovascular disease, heart attack and high blood pressure. The epidemic of obesity has other consequences, including a connection with diabetes. As is the case for sugar and salt, weaning yourself from fats gets easier the more you succeed.
For all three, your metabolism has adjusted itself so that it makes you feel hungry for these ingredients and you might crave them as you cut down. Making a gradual and consistent change will feel much more manageable after only a week or two. As you’re losing your taste for unhealthy eating, reinforce your taste for whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. It won’t be long before you’ll be feeling healthier, with more energy, more mental clarity, more positive and less volatile moods.
And everything’s better when you’re sufficiently hydrated. Gradually increase your daily intake of plain water (not soda, coffee, etc.) and you’ll be healthier. Make changes gradually, don’t eliminate favorite unhealthy foods without first gradually reducing serving sizes and frequency. There is such a strong connection between the food we eat and how deprived or abundant our lives seem. This directly affects how much pleasure we find in life, so much so, that remaining positive, being good to ourselves, and making sure to find healthy foods and recipes that we actually enjoy is of vital importance.
There are a lot of resources easily available that will help support the decision to start eating more healthy food. Once you start looking, you’ll find lots of tips, recipes and healthy ways to prepare and flavor food without the salt, sugar and fat.