healthy foods for healthy eating

6 basics of healthy eating

There is a lot of noise about health and healthy eating. While the basics of healthy eating are quite simple, adhering to them is far from simple. In our busy and commercialized lives it can be hard to stick with our health goals and too easy to give in to temptation. Over time it’s become clear that “diets” aren’t the way to go. It’s about incorporating healthy habits into our routines.

Again, easier said than done. This list of the 6 basics of healthy eating, is our attempt to help you focus on the most impactful actions to help you avoid the noise and thereby increase the likelihood of sticking with it. In addition we want to share ideas on how to avoid temptations, as well as how to reward yourself in a positive way. These strategies can help you build the basics into your routine. Find the aspects of healthy eating that you enjoy and indulge in those until they become part of your everyday life.

Whole Foods

Following the motto of “real food does not have ingredients, it is ingredients”. Try to eat as little food items with an ingredient list as possible.           

According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, food can fall into four categories.

  • Unprocessed or minimally processed foods
  • Processed culinary ingredients
  • Processed foods
  • Ultra-processed foods

Processed to ultra-processed foods can have a negative impact on your health for many reasons. Processing food can diminish nutrients (or reduce them all together) and usually comes with adding over proportional amounts of salt and sugar as well as artificial flavors and other chemically processed ingredients.

There is a lot of value in knowing which ingredients you are eating, especially if you have allergies or chronic health issues you are working to heal. There might be ingredients in the processed food, which might be aggravating your condition.

Variety

With all the talk about superfood, we must not forget that our bodies need a lot of different nutrients, the best way to get them is eat a lot of different things. Link to “eat the rainbow”.

In northeast Tanzania there is a Hunter-Gatherer group called the Hazda. We can learn from a group who is constantly moving, climbing, digging and eating a variety of foods they gather from the earth. According to Herman Pontzer, “An evolutionary anthropologist who studies modern-day hunter-gatherers, says; “Traditional diets vary widely, and the vast majority of them include a high percentage of carbohydrates.” Pontzer is not talking about processed carbohydrates, but carbs from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and honey.

Balance

As with everything in life, the right balance is key to a healthy life… “By adopting a varied and balanced diet we can promote our health while reducing our contribution to climate change.” – Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition.

When things feel out of balance, it’s nice to be able to take a step back and evaluate our approach. Even when it feels like we are on the right track it never hurts to get new ideas in order to stay in balance. One resource from the USDA helps by providing a quiz to get a sense of your balance, and where you might be able to make some adjustments.

Beware of Sugar

Humans love sugar for good reason. This love was developed when it was not easily available. Unfortunately, now it is cheap and abundantly available. Reading food labels is difficult and time-consuming. However, if you can look at least for one thing: how much sugar (especially added sugar) is in there!

The movie “In Defense of Food” has a great explanation on how the “low fat” movement was a big mistake. Over time it lead to higher diabetes rates due to sugar replacing fat. It shares how prevalent sugar is in everything today.

Mindfulness

Again, as with everything in life… But especially around eating, think about what you eat. Make buying food, cooking food and eating food a mindful experience. Enjoy it, share it, really taste it. Food is literally the thing that “fuels” us, not an activity done “on the side” while watching TV, working, etc.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University says “the more often children eat dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use illicit drugs.” Research suggests there is a connection between mental health of children and the amount of times they eat together with family. It also seems children are less picky about the foods they eat and enjoy a wider variety when they regularly sit down to eat with family.

Drink water

You don’t have to like Ronaldo, but he is so right: Drink water! Not much to add! Staying hydrated can first and foremost make you feel great. Your digestion can improve, and you can save money by not using as much lotion 😉

Although we have access to many other drinks, water is an obvious boost to our health. Sugar-based drinks are causing a lot of damage. According to the CDC, “Frequently drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout, a type of arthritis.1-4”. The bottom line is the water is going to do a great deal for you. So, grab a reusable water bottle and ditch the sugar-based drinks.  


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