Health Food Habits
A healthy meal gives you all the nutrients you require to maintain good health and sustain you. It is important for everyone to choose and practice healthy food habits to keep in shape and good health.
Foods that are important in our diet include:
- Fruits and vegetables: Low in calories and a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Try to have a variety of colours as each colour has different benefits.
- Healthy carbohydrates: Protect against heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Whole grains are a good source. They control sugar levels and are slowly digested leaving you full. Refined sugar and white rice contain unhealthy carbohydrates that digest quickly and cause fluctuations in sugar levels.
- Healthy fats: Necessary for our brain, skin, hair and nails. Certain fats such as omega-3 fatty acids can reduce heart disease and prevent dementia. Healthy fats are found in olive oil, fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, and soybean. Unhealthy fats are present in red meat and whole milk dairy products.
- Calcium: Keeps your bones and teeth healthy, and your nervous system functioning well. Lack of calcium in the body may lead to osteoporosis. Good sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables such as cabbage and sprouts, beans, and dairy products such as milk and yoghurt. Caffeine and alcohol may deplete the body of calcium.
- Protein: Forms the building blocks of the body and provides energy. Though it is present in all meats and dairy, you can choose healthier sources such as fish, chicken, beans, soy and nuts.
- Fibre: Lowers risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Unprocessed foods are generally high in fibre. Good sources include carrots, tomatoes, apple and whole grain such as oatmeal.
- Water: hydrates you and flushes toxins. It is a necessary part of your diet. Sometimes you may mistake hunger for thirst and a glass of water can prevent you making a poor food choice.
Try to add colour and variety to your diet. Make small changes such as adding a salad, or changing your cooking oil.
Unhealthy foods such as refined sugars and fats should be avoided and replaced by healthier foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. You may control portion sizes and if you feel unsatisfied at the end of a meal, add vegetables or fruits. Sugar and salt should be limited in the diet. Try naturally sweet foods. Salty snacks and sugary drinks are poor health choices.
How we eat is also important. Food should be chewed slowly and not be gulped down. It is necessary to try to eat only as much food as your body needs. Try to feel satisfied rather than full at the end of a meal. Frequent small meals which leave us satisfied are more beneficial than the regular three meals a day. Dinner should be early so that there is a significant gap (14-16 hours) before breakfast. Midnight snacks are not healthy.
You can incorporate a healthy diet into your routine without strict dietary limitations or completely avoiding food that you love. There is no harm in indulging yourself once in a while as long as you balance your diet. A change to a healthy diet should be a slow process and hopefully a permanent one. Finally, including an exercise program can also motivate better eating habits.