Eight Keys For Creating Healthier Eating Habits
There is so much nutrition information available on the Internet that it can often be more confusing than helpful.
If you are recovering from an eating disorder, this sea of “expert” nutritional advice may seem a nightmare to navigate.
Fortunately, to create healthy eating habits, it is unnecessary to focus on countless food details. Keeping broad nutrition guidelines in mind is all most of us need to purchase and prepare good-for-us foods.
Exceptions to following broad guidelines are the specific dietary recommendations given to you by your doctor or dietician. The eight keys to a healthier diet listed below should take a back seat to your medical professional’s advice.
Eight Keys To A Healthier Diet
- Variety. We can get the broad assortment of nutrients our body needs by consuming a variety of foods. Think about eating from the different food groups (e.g., lean meats, grains, dairy, legumes), and eating foods of various colors.
- Portions. Follow the serving recommendations of your doctor or nutritionist, but generally avoid "super-sized" portions of food when eating out or at home. The best rule of thumb is to stop eating when you are comfortably full.
- Plenty of Produce. Eat plenty of green leafy foods, but also choose orange, red, blue, purple, and yellow fruits and vegetables. Legumes (beans) are a type of produce, and though a bit higher in calories than veggies and fruits, they are also rich in fiber and nutritious compounds.
- Whole Grains. Make sure half or more of the grains you eat are whole grains (e.g., whole wheat, oats, barley). Whole grains contain the bran and germ – full of nutrients and fiber – that processed grains are missing.
- Healthy Fats. Our bodies require the healthy fats that are supplied by fatty fish, such as salmon, nuts, avocados, and vegetable oils, such as olive oil.
- Potassium Up, Sodium Down. Keep in mind that processed foods often contain more sodium than our bodies need. To get adequate amounts of potassium, eat bananas, citrus fruit, beans, potatoes, and yogurt.
- Calcium and Vitamin D. Both calcium and vitamin D are necessary for strong bones. Eating a variety of foods, including green vegetables (e.g., broccoli) and some dairy, and getting at least ten minutes of sunlight during the day may meet your needs for these nutrients. If you are concerned about getting enough, talk to your doctor about using supplements.
- Limit Processed Foods, Animal Fats, Added Sugars. Read food labels carefully and limit your intake of refined (processed) grains, added sugars (e.g., high fructose corn syrup), animal fats, cholesterol, sweetened drinks, alcohol, and limit supplement use. Supplements are helpful but can never replace a diet of fresh, whole foods. Although some professionals no longer believe saturated fats and cholesterol are the main cause of heart disease, you will want to keep your intake of these to a minimum, and avoid trans fats.
Source: UC Berkeley Wellness
Photo credit: John Nyboer