The building blocks to good health seem so simple: eat right and exercise. When coupled with regular physical exercise, a healthy diet can help prevent diseases, increase your stamina, ease stress and enhance your quality of life.
But sound nutrition is more than a “diet” – it’s a journey toward a healthy lifestyle that you can embark on today by following a few simple guidelines.
1. Start with the basics: Choose nutrient-rich foods at every meal, such as fruits and vegetables of every color, high-fiber whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins.
2. Add healthy items to your meals and make sure you get all your vitamins and nutrients each day. Talk to your healthcare professional for more information on what vitamins and minerals you need. By focusing on what you should eat instead of what you shouldn’t, you’ll start your new eating plan on a positive note.
3. Choose organic foods when possible. Certified organic foods are free of most chemicals and artificial additives. Be sure to focus on organic produce, dairy and meats and not convenience foods. Organic potato chips are still a poor snack option.
4. Think locally. Because it requires less transportation, local food is fresher and better for the environment.
5. Eat in season. Eating seasonal selections, such as strawberries in the summer and sweet potatoes in the fall, ensures a greater variety of foods will be found on your plate. Check out your local farmers’ market for the freshest in-season fruits and vegetables.
6. Eat healthfully on a budget: cook at home. One of the easiest ways to boost your nutrition is to eat most of your meals at home. Home-cooked meals are generally lower in fat, processed carbohydrates and sodium than restaurant and fast food meals. You’ll also avoid those super-sized portions by dishing up just the amount you need.
7. Shop smart: The freshest, healthiest foods are found around the perimeter of the grocery store. Stock up on fruits and vegetables, unprocessed grains like whole oats, lean meats and fish, and low-fat dairy, and skip the inner aisles full of convenience junk food.
8. Go vegetarian occasionally. Even if you love meat, a vegetarian meal once a week can do wonders for your health – and your wallet. Choose foods that are high in protein but low-cost, such as legumes.
Enjoying a healthy eating plan doesn’t have to be complicated. By following these basic rules, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier you.