Diet and exercise are, of course, both key components of a healthy lifestyle. But having a healthy diet doesn’t necessarily mean counting calories or rigidly adhering to a complex set of rules and regulations.
Sometimes maintaining a healthy diet is more about engaging in some very simple disciplines. Here are 8 ways to enjoy a healthier lifestyle without having to follow rigid dietary restrictions.
Always eat breakfast
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Eating a good breakfast helps to kick-start your metabolism, which helps burn calories with maximum efficiency throughout the day.
Breakfast doesn’t have to be a big, fancy affair or even take a long time to prepare to give you a great start. Here are some simple breakfast ideas you can take with you on the go.
- Slice half an avocado and spread slices on whole wheat toast
- Scramble some eggs with spinach and tomato
- Fruit smoothie with protein powder
- Cup of oatmeal with dried fruit
- Almond butter, yogurt and fruit parfait
Eat smaller and more meals during the day
A healthy diet involves keeping your blood sugar stable, which will help you maintain good energy throughout the day. When you wait longer between meals, you also get hungrier. This can lead to binge eating or making less healthy choices based on what is most convenient rather than what is most nutritious.
Eat more vegetables and fruits
Your body is made up of all the exact same material and minerals that are found in soil. However, your body cannot digest the minerals in the same form as those found in soil. Your body actually needs an “interim” to ingest the minerals in their raw or inorganic form and turn them into organic minerals that your body can digest.
Fruits and vegetables act as like small processing plants that absorb raw, inorganic minerals such as iron, manganese and magnesium from the soil and converts them into organic minerals that your body can digest and use properly
Include fish in your weekly diet
Fish is both an excellent source of lean protein as well as being high in two of the three essential fatty acids (EFA’s) known as Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for brain and heart health and have a long list of other benefits. EFA’s are found in all kinds of fish, but are particularly high in fatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, canned tuna, and oysters. Some of these benefits include:
- Promotes healthy brain function and mental clarity
- Promotes healthy heart function by lowering blood pressure and reducing risk of heart attacks, strokes and abnormal heart rhythms
- Reduces the risk of a number of physical, mental and emotional ailments such as depression, dementia, diabetes, ADHD and Alzheimer’s Disease
- May reduce the risk of arthritis and reduce inflammation
Avoid Trans Fats
Not all fats are bad for you and some are a vital part of good nutrition. Polyunsaturated fats found in fish, nuts and seeds and monounsaturated fats such as those found in cold pressed vegetable oils such as olive and canola oil can actually have a number of heart-healthy benefits. Saturated fats, such as those found in meat and dairy, however, are quite controversial.
Some studies suggest they don’t present a legitimate health threat, while the American Heart Association maintains that only 5% to 6% of your daily caloric intake should come from saturated fats. Artificial trans fats, found in most commercial vegetable oils are a definite no-no. Trans fats are created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. You can limit your exposure to trans fats by avoiding all commercially fried or baked goods.
Avoid Processed Sugar and HFCS
Like the different types of fat, there are also a wide variety of sugars, some of which are actually necessary for good health. Glucose, sometimes known as Dextrose, is the primary source of fuel for your body. Fructose is found naturally in fruit but is also the key ingredient in High Fructose Corn Syrup. In other words, HFCS takes something that is actually good for you in low amounts and super-charges it to a point where it is unhealthy and destructive.
What makes a sugar good or bad for you is how quickly it hits your bloodstream. Processed sugar is already broken down chemically, so it hits your bloodstream immediately and can cause chaos in your blood sugar levels. Natural or raw sugars take longer to break down so they keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel. While sugar is an important part of a healthy diet, it should come from natural sources like fruit, honey or milk.
Drink plenty of water
The average adult human body needs to maintain a balance of anywhere from 50-75% water. If you live in a dry or arid area, you will need to drink far more water to maintain optimal levels than if you live in a humid area, as less of your body’s water will be absorbed by the atmosphere.
In addition, the more active your lifestyle is, the more water you will need to drink to maintain proper hydration levels. Water also helps to flush out toxins, hydrate skin, energize muscles and maintain weight. While you may not actually need 8 glasses of water a day to maintain optimal hydration levels, it also doesn’t hurt.
Get plenty of starchy carbohydrates
Once the bane of dieters anywhere, starchy carbohydrates are another food group that is actually an essential part of healthy eating. Potatoes, grains and pasta are all examples of starchy carbohydrates. Like many foods, however, there are good versions and bad versions. Aim for whole grain varieties of starchy foods that are high in fiber, calcium, iron and B vitamins.