Eating well, feeling great, and looking your best is all connected. After all, "we are what we eat." Learning how to eat healthy involves breathing clean air and drinking pure water, but the spotlight is really on how we get the proteins, fats, and carbs that shape our bodies and make us strong.
Wonderful and richly colored fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, minerals, and Vitamins A, C, and D, all of which fight inflammation and such conditions as cancer, hypertension, and heart disease.
Milk, yogurt, fatty fish (like salmon), poultry, and red meat in moderation (four to five times a week) are all good sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals. The healthiest oils are olive, canola, omega-3 butter, and nut and seed oils. The worst are margarine and any processed food made with trans fat or partially hydrogenated oil of any kind.
Whole and multigrain products (so-called complex carbs) are rich in nutrients. They digest slowly, which helps you avoid a sugar overload and the resulting insulin flood that is bad for the heart, leads to weight gain, and plays a role in type 2 diabetes. It's really better to avoid simple carbs altogether (white flour and all sugars). The sugar we love so much, according to many studies, can lead to diseases like cancer.
Another important aspect of knowing how to eat healthy is making your diet fit your budget. For example:
- A single egg is a powerhouse of protein, minerals, and vitamins.
- The least expensive complete protein is a combination of rice and beans.
- Whole grains, legumes, and vegetables are probably the most economical items in the whole supermarket!
- Frozen veggies and fruits are often less expensive than their fresh counterparts, blueberries especially. They last a lot longer and are always available.
Usually, you'll find these and other healthy foods on the perimeter of the store, not in the aisles. Aisles and endcaps tend to display unhealthy processed and packaged foods loaded with white flour, sugar, trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils, and additives.
We tend to go for highly processed and seasoned fast foods, but research suggests these foods add extra calories with few nutrients, and a steady diet like that can make us sick.
Finally, healthy eating means having a healthy relationship with food. That means eating three good meals a day, not bingeing or starving ourselves for one reason or another, gorging when we feel upset, or snacking just for fun. Food isn't entertainment or therapy. How we eat is as important as what we eat.
The investment in learning how to eat healthy pays off big. For more nutrition tips, especially for kids, click here.