Healthy Eating for Life

How do we decide what is a healthy diet? Numerous inconsistent and contradictory nutritional health messages have left the general public confused and frustrated. Do we watch fat and not calories, fiber and fat, eat high protein or carbohydrates, or fast once a week? So many messages from so many apparently reliable sources have led many people to fad diets or to completely ignoring all dietary suggestions.

Many of us have heard the phrase “you are what you eat” for many years, and the words still ring true. Limiting your diet to a few foods may result in nutrient deficit. While it may provide for quick weight loss, it is extremely difficult, and sometimes dangerous, to maintain a limited diet for the long-term. Additionally, certain foods are necessary to maintain energy specific to your activity level. Focusing on a well balanced, high nutrient diet will result in a healthier body.

While disagreement remains on the perfect diet, there are some dietary basics supported by sound scientific research on which we can base our decisions.
# Variety is the key. Eat a wide variety of foods from different food groups to assure the proper amount of nutrients.
# The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends focusing on a plant-based diet to help prevent cancer. Two-thirds of a daily diet should be filled with vegetables, fruits, grains and beans, and one-third or less from meat or dairy products.
# The human body runs best on sugars and carbohydrates. These are found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Reduce or eliminate refined sugars and fats.
# Be wary of claims that eating unlimited amounts of certain foods and eliminating others will help you lose weight and maintain health. You may have a temporary weight loss, but too much of one food and too little of another can lead to problems in the long run.
# Whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain weight, the goal is not only to count calories, but also to make sure the calories consumed count. Choose nutrient-rich foods and avoid “empty” calories that contain few vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, protein, or fiber.
# Remember that weight loss only occurs when calories consumed are less than calories expended through exertion.

Base your dietary decisions on sound, well-researched advice from nutrition experts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Healthy, well-balanced eating, combined with moderate exercise, will result in a healthy weight. Aim at making healthy eating a lifestyle change for life, resulting not only in a healthy weight, but significantly reducing risks of chronic disease.

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