Seems like everyone's talking about all the benefits of healthy eating plans.
From parents worried about their children's weight, to doctors and nutritionists who are concerned with the rise in health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
-As the rates of obesity in children and adults continue to soar, it’s becoming more and more obvious;
That for most families, healthy eating programs are more necessary now than they have ever been before.
-When it comes right down to it though, healthy eating plans are just plain inconvenient. They can be very hard to accomplish, and it can be pretty expensive buying all that healthy food too!
And after all, it really doesn't affect us every day, so what's all the fuss about anyway?
I thought all those foolish things for a long time.
My diet was made up mostly of easy to make stuff. You know, fast food. Frozen pizzas, instant meals out of a box, snack foods - those kinds of things. It hadn't always been that way though.
-When I was a kid growing up, although we didn't have any specific healthy eating plans, my folks served a ton of vegetables at the table. Although they still made a lot of what I call 'farm food': mashed potatoes and gravy, fatty meat, biscuits, pies, and similar fattening foods.
They were eating the same way they always had, and it was a whole lot healthier than the way I ended up eating.
Once I left home and went off to college, it got really easy to let my diet slide. After all, there was a cafeteria available, and no one around to lean over my shoulder to enforce any healthy eating guidelines, or to see if I was "eating my veggies."
-If you've ever eaten school cafeteria food, you probably know how easy it is to fill up on fries, and skip the fruit and vegetables. Add some not very controlled drinking and a few pizza parties in here and there, and I got into some pretty unhealthy eating habits.
They kept up after I got out of school, too. When you're working your first full-time job and trying to make ends meet, you're not exactly worried about your eating habits, good or bad.
-It's a lot easier to order a take-out pizza and pop open a Coke. It's quick and easy, and you don't really notice how tired you're feeling, how many headaches you get and ....didn't these jeans used to fit better?
You may even get used to that feeling of being a little thirsty all the time because your body's not getting enough water. Soda and coffee all the time just doesn't cut it, but I didn't realize it then.
I woke up one weekend and got a real good look at myself on the way to the shower. I was getting really flabby and tired looking, with dark circles under my eyes and little (if any) muscle tone.
-No wonder my love life was in the toilet. I'd given up working out at the gym about halfway through college …no time. I'd just had a full night's sleep, and still I felt exhausted. That's when I really woke up and decided it was time to take some healthy eating advice from a friend.
If you've been there, you know it takes more than just the realization. That resolution lasted about as long as the next pizza. But then I started looking into what a balanced diet should really look like. (see this chart)
-Well, it turns out the amount of refined sugar and flour, along with all the high fat foods and meat (with few vegetables) was doing a number on me.
If I'd kept it up, I would have gained a lot more weight than I did, not to mention a much higher risk of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke, plus a few cancers to boot. (and forget about my fat loss plans)
-The Real Benefits of Healthy Eating Plans
I didn't really know what I should be eating, and I probably had a few vitamin deficiencies, too. Did you know that not getting enough vitamin B could make you feel depressed and unmotivated? (I was depressed enough just looking in the mirror)
-Add in some foods that are high in sugar and refined starches, and afternoon mood swings are almost a certainty. Low calcium intake can lead to bone problems later in life, and not eating enough whole grains could even result in colon cancer some day.
Healthy eating plans are extremely important for preventing many diseases, especially as we get older.
-According to the World Health Organization, (WHO) there are five healthy eating guidelines that should be part of all healthy eating plans.
We should all eat in such a way that we:
#1 - Achieve a healthy weight and energy balance.
#2 - Increase consumption of whole grains, legumes (beans and peas), fruits and vegetables, and nuts.
#3 - Reduce energy intake from fats, and make sure the fats we do eat are unsaturated rather than saturated or hydrogenated. (Trans-fats)
#4 - Limit the amount of salt/sodium we eat, (less than 2300 mg or 1 teaspoon) making sure all salt is iodized.
#5 - Limit the consumption of simple sugars as much as possible, including sucrose, glucose, fructose and others (that means honey and corn syrup as much as table sugar).
W.H.O. -also suggests eating foods that contain all essential amino acids required for protein transportation and cellular replenishment.
-Important vitamins and minerals are also necessary to prevent any vitamin deficiencies.
Avoiding foods that may contain carcinogens, like benzene (Benzene is a carcinogen that can result from the sodium benzoate used to preserve many packaged foods) or poisonous substances such as heavy metals is naturally recommended.
-It is also critical as well to be very aware of any potential E. coli or other current contaminants in the marketplace.
Current USDA Balanced Diet
- 6 to 8 ounces of whole grain bread, pasta, crackers, or cereals daily.
- 2 ½ to 3 ½ cups dark green, dark yellow/orange vegetables and legumes each and every day
- 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit every day
- 3 cups milk or dairy per day (preferably low-fat)
- 5 ½ to 6 ½ ounces of lean protein per day (meat, poultry, fish, eggs)
- No more than 5-7 teaspoons of fat or oil daily. (Mayo, dressing, etc.)
*The lesser amounts are for a 2,000-calorie diet, higher 2400-calorie diet
-What I did to start my healthy eating plans.
I'll admit that I didn't go gung-ho right away, and I still indulge in an occasional treat from time to time. That's not a problem.
Even fast food once in a while is fine. It's when fast food becomes your way of life, like it was with me, that you begin to feel the side effects.
I started making better eating choices a little bit at a time to improve my health, and lose a few pounds so I could look myself in the mirror again.
I cut my meat portion size way down, but not all at once.
I started having a little more vegetables and whole grain bread at first, then I upped the amounts of them, as the weeks passed. (The high fiber helps to fill you up, and keep you that way)
Your meat portion should be about the size of a deck of cards. In the past I'd eat enough to have a few card games going at the same time!
-I used to drink a couple of cokes a day, along with coffee, until I found out that drinking 2 sodas every day for a year can put an extra 30 pounds or more on your waistline every year! (In my case on my butt)
My family helped me with this, and I encouraged them to cut back on some of their bad eating habits as well.
I certainly have a lot more energy; feel a lot more rested, and stopped having all of those headaches and muscle pains I used to get all the time.
-I even felt good enough to start-up my gym membership again!
The benefits of exercise and healthy eating plans really do go hand in hand.
-And the truth is, I'm spending a lot less green with my new healthy eating plans than I used to spend eating take-out every day.
Saving cash, more energy, feeling great, and ...better-looking mirrors!
Sound like plans we can all live with!
-Starting healthy eating plans may be a little inconvenient at first, but when you realize all you can gain from them, they are so worth it!
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