A healthy eating plan can make the difference between staying healthy or falling into poor health habits. We live in an information overload society where we are constantly being bombarded with contradictory health information. It can be very confusing to figure out what a healthy eating plan should include.
This article was written after consulting top dietitians who provide reliable information about what makes a healthy eating plan.
Six Ingredients of a Healthy Eating Plan
1. Eat mindfully
A healthy eating plan involves paying full attention to food at mealtimes. Accredited Dietitian Caitlin Rabel explains that “Mindful eating is a great way of improving your relationship with food. It allows you to eat more in tune with your body, and be flexible about your food choices.”
Mindful eating involves eating slowly and putting away all distractions so that you can be fully engaging in eating. It has many benefits. It can help you realize when you are full because it gives your gut and brain a chance to communicate. It helps with weight control since you will find you are satisfied with eating less food. Most importantly, you will fully enjoy one of the most enjoyable experiences in life.
2. Don’t make any foods completely off limits
A healthy eating plan does not ban any foods. There is no food that exists that cannot be part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation.
According to Accredited Dietitian Gabrielle O’Dea, “Life is too short not to have treats occasionally, I know I usually have a square or two of dark chocolate most nights.” When we tell ourselves that a certain food is off limits, eventually we will obsess over it and likely over-indulge. Just eat healthy most of the time and schedule time to enjoy occasional indulgences.
3. Plan ahead
Healthy eating does not happen without planning. Eating healthily doesn’t need to be complicated, but just a little planning will really help you eat a better diet. When I practiced law I shopped and prepared an overly large quantity of Sunday dinner so that I could just reheat the leftovers for weekday dinners. This habit made a big difference in my being able to stick to a healthy eating plan.
4. Always have a healthy breakfast
Eating breakfast is a requisite of any healthy eating plan. Yet, many of us run off to work or the kid’s schools without eating anything. Again, planning ahead is the key. You can do easy things like have hard boiled eggs on hand, make overnight oatmeal or bake a dozen healthy muffins. Then you are prepared for the early morning fire drill. Dietitians Alex and Anna of The Biting Truth, suggest that having “healthy staples in the pantry will help to avoid last minute take-away options on the way to work.”
A healthy breakfast should include:
• Complex carbohydrates (oats, wholegrain bread, quinoa)
• Good quality protein (eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, legumes, meat, tofu, seeds, nuts)
• Healthy fats (avocado, peanut butter, nuts)
• Plant-based foods (fruit, vegetables)
5. Look after your gut
A healthy eating plan needs to pay attention to gut bacteria. Studies show that our guts contain a combination of both beneficial and harmful bacteria. A healthy eating plan can help you find the right balance. Gut bacteria profile has been linked to conditions such as diabetes, mental health and weight status, and research in these areas are growing rapidly.
Dietitians Alex and Anna explain: “The good bacteria are known as ‘probiotics’ and they feed on ‘prebiotics’, which are carbohydrates that pass through the body undigested and act as food for the probiotics. What you eat can influence the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut.
Some good source of probiotics are yogurt with active cultures, kimchi, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut and kefir. Prebiotics are plentiful in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
6. Think more, not less
A healthy eating plan is only sustainable if it focuses on the positive. Many of us approach healthy eating from the wrong point of view. Dietitian Caitlin Rabel suggests that you “Focus on adding things into your diet rather than cutting things out. You will find that you spend less time worrying about food, and will enjoy what you are eating more too.”
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