Healthy Eating Guide
A healthy diet is central to a woman's well-being and provides her with the nutrition she needs in order to live an active lifestyle. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is important to a woman's physical, mental and emotional health, making healthy eating crucial to maintaining overall health and well-being. Read on for a healthy eating plan that's easy to follow in order to keep a healthy lifestyle.
What is Healthy Eating?
Because there are varying definitions of what it means to have a healthy diet, the term 'healthy eating' can sometimes be confusing. A simple definition of a healthy and balanced diet is maintaining a diet that is comprised of a balance of nutrients required by the body in order to properly function.
Healthy Eating Habits
In order to maintain a healthy diet, it is essential to ensure that you:
- eat three healthy meals and have two nutritious snacks daily
- maximize your intake of healthy foods from all the four food groups
- minimize your intake of harmful foods; such as foods that are high in caffeine, salt, sugar and saturated or trans fats
Selecting foods from each food group is central to eating healthy. The food guide divides food groups into the following categories:
- grains: comprised of foods such as rice, oats and cereal. There are two types of grains: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains include the entire grain sheath, while refined grains, the bran and germ are removed during processing. As such, whole grains contain a higher amount of nutrition and fiber than do refined grain products. Grains are an excellent source of carbohydrates, fiber and iron. It is recommended that individuals consume between 5 to 12 servings of grain products daily, with a focus on whole grain products. A serving of grains includes a slice of bread, a bagel or a cup of cereal.
- vegetables and fruits: this food group includes all types of fruits and vegetables in addition to 100% fruit and vegetable juices. Fruits and vegetables provide important nutrients and vitamins that are essential to your diet. When selecting vegetables and fruits, opt for ones that are more vibrant in color, as a deeper color indicates a greater concentration of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Some excellent choices include dark green and orange vegetables, such as broccoli and butternut squash. You should consume between 5 and 10 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Examples of a single serving include a piece of fruit, a cup of salad or half a cup of fruit juice.
- meat and meat alternatives: includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes. Meat and meat alternatives are an excellent source of protein and iron. However, red meat should be avoided because it contains a high amount of saturated fat. You should consume between 2 to 3 servings of meat and alternatives daily. A serving can be 3 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish, 1 egg or one-third of a cup of tofu.
- milk and milk products: including milk, cheese and yogurt, this food group is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D. You should consume 2 to 4 servings of milk and milk products daily. A serving can be one cup of milk, 50 grams of cheese or three-quarters of a cup of yogurt.
In addition, it is important to consume 6 to 8 glasses of water daily, as water helps to flush waste from the body, thereby increasing cell energy. On the other hand, you should limit your consumption of alcohol, sodas, caffeine, added sugars and trans or saturated fats.
The Benefits of Healthy Eating
There are a variety of important benefits associated with eating healthy, including:
- decreased risk of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis
- improved immune system health
- regulated body weight as well as improved rate of weight loss
- improved energy levels
It is important to remember that healthy eating can provide you with the most benefits when combined with a regular fitness routine.
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