There is a lot of talk in the weight loss and health-conscious world about healthy eating. Healthy eating is really important for everyone, but some people tend to get all excited about it, while others totally despise it and consider it as a serious threat to their very existence. There is truth both ways: healthy eating is good for your health and can make you feel great; however, unhealthy eating is very bad for your health and will undoubtedly lead to weight gain and other health problems. So how do you know if healthy eating is for you?
The answer lies in knowing your body’s requirements and being aware of your food habits. Healthy eating does not mean following some mysterious cultural tradition that tells you to never eat carbs or protein foods. What you eat is just as important as what you do; therefore, there is no reason to follow food traditions that are at odds with your body needs. A healthy eating habit means that you learn the food ingredients and what nutrients they contain, and then identify which food choices can give you the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
One of the most common, healthy eating mistakes is not exercising regularly. People often get the idea that if they want to lose weight, all they have to do is exercise more, thus increasing the amount of calories they burn and “losing” weight. However, this isn’t the case; losing weight requires reducing food intake, not increasing it! Aerobic exercise, such as running, jogging, or walking, burns off calories. Resistance training, which combines lifting weights with weight training, is also very beneficial for weight loss.
Another area where many people go wrong when it comes to healthy eating is the way they approach nutritional information. They read about the nutritional information on the back of a nutrition product or nutrition information panel, see that it says something about getting enough protein, but miss out on the “P” (caloric intake) part of the statement. The phrase calorie deficit is used quite frequently in weight loss marketing, but it doesn’t mean what most people think it means: eating fewer calories than your body needs each day. Calorie deficits may sound good in theory, but the nutrient deficit it causes can be very damaging to your health. If you eat too few calories, you won’t be filling up, but neither will you be gaining weight!
To learn healthy eating basics, you need to pay closer attention to the foods that you eat and the amounts of those foods. The phrase “reduce fat, increase fiber” is especially helpful, since it makes it clear that you should be eating less fat and more vegetables and fruits to get the nutrients you need. Eating foods high in fiber can be tricky, however; the concept of fiber can be confusing. Fiber is an actual substance in foods, and many people believe that it is something added sugar that is not really there. There is, in fact, fiber added to foods, but it is present in small amounts.
The bottom line is that healthy eating looks different depending on cultural and environmental factors. For example, Asian cultures tend to eat a lot of noodles and rice, which are easily digested and do not cause weight gain. Americans, on the other hand, tend to like meats and dairy products, which can make us hungry and add empty calories to our diet. Learning healthy eating looks different depending on where you live and who your family is, but one thing stays the same: keep an eye on the calories and choose foods wisely.