Healthy Eating Facts
Eating healthily is the cornerstone of a healthy and happy mind and body. But what exactly does ‘healthy’ mean? Also, why do some people have what we would consider healthy diets, yet still struggle with their weight and energy levels? Read on to find out.
Healthy eating isn’t
First, let’s start with the low down on what healthy eating is not. It’s not starving yourself. The clue in the name people, as in ‘eating.’ It’s also not becoming so obsessive about food that you can only eat organic, macrobiotic, vegan, raw foods.
This is counter-productive in the long run because very restrictive diets are harder to keep to. This means you have a higher chance of feeling like you have failed if you don’t keep to them rigidly 100%. This, in turn, can affect how you feel about yourself and your eating and cause you to veer off course with your food choices.
It’s also not about eating tons and tons of fiber. Don’t get me wrong fiber is great stuff. As it aids digestion and helps to move waste products along the bowl for expulsion. However, if you eat too much of the stuff, you get too much of this effect. Something that can be uncomfortable at best, and mortifyingly embarrassing at worst.
Healthy eating is
Although, this issue with fiber leads us nicely into what healthy eating actually is. It is, in fact, all about balance! That means balancing each and every food group, so we are getting the right level of nutrition for our bodies to function properly.
These food groups include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and sugars. Although there are many diets out there that suggest one, two, or all even all of the last three should be severely restricted. If not banned completely!
Of course, restricting a particular food group will work, to begin with. As you are consuming less calorie dense food and so achieving a deficit between what you are taking in, and what you are burning off is easier.
However, many people find that they cannot stick to these ways of eating in the long term. Either resulting in them giving up and going back to eating what they consider normal. Or yoyoing, where they eat this way for a bit, and then get fed up and stop. Only to go back on it when they start to put on weight.
Remember though, that vacillating between a bad diet and a restricted one is something that can actually lead to weight gain. As well as something that can get you stuck in a constant cycle of feast and famine. Something that isn’t that good for your mental health either.
What does a healthy diet look like?
So armed with the information that balance is key, what exactly does a healthy diet look like? Well, before we get into it, it’s important to note that different people need different amounts of food to be healthy.
For example, children will not need as many calories a day as a full grown man. Also, remember that height and current weight also play a factor in caloric allowance. So a 5,6” female at a healthy weight will need fewer calories to sustain their weight than a 5,6” woman that is obese.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of controversies and confusing information about what a healthy diet should look like. But there are some simple principles that you can apply to what you eat.
First, at least half of your plate should be packed with non- starchy vegetables. Things like spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and the like. These can be raw or cooked, but so try to make them more of the main event rather than just something that is on the side.
Then a third of your plate should be taken up with carbohydrates. Things like carrots, potatoes, pasta, and rice.
The other third should be dedicated to protein. That means fish like mackerel, cod, or salmon, and meat such as beef, chicken, and lamb. Or for vegetarians try beans, pulses, and tofu instead.
But where are the fats and sugars you ask? Well, the sugars are part of your carbohydrate, as this is what your body breaks them down into.Not all carbohydrates are created equal though. Refined carbs such as white pasta and white bread are converted to sugars that are more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. This means they can create a spike of energy, that then falls; leaving your tired and craving more sugar.
But whole grain pasta, bread, and wild rice are converted into sugars that hit the bloodstream in a slower more measured way. This helps you to avoid the sugar rush and to feel fuller and more energetic for longer. Meaning they are a healthier option.
If you are particularly concerned about your nutritional intake, then you can go and see a professional nutritionist. They can help you understand how all of the different types of food will affect your body. As well as establishing what the right levels of each different type of food will be for you to keep healthy, and maintain a healthy weight.
They can even write you a meal plan, include how much liquid to drink and what to snack on. As well as what to eat on a meal by meal basis.
However, some people can eat what is considered to be a healthy diet and still suffer from weight issues. Why is that?
Well, first of all, it could be because they have what is known as a slow metabolism. This is when the body doesn’t process energy quick enough. Something that can result in weight gain, feelings of sluggishness, and even depression.
So what can be done about this? Firstly, exercise is a great way of revving up your metabolism, because the more energy the body uses, the less you will suffer from the issue above. It can also help to use treatments like Detox Tea to flush out your system and give your metabolism a boost.
Of course, you also need to be aware that a slow metabolism is something that may be caused by underlying health issues such as a thyroid condition. The thyroid is a gland in the neck that produces hormones essential for food digestion and weight control. If your thyroid is under-active, it means it’s isn’t producing often enough these hormones for your body. This can lead to a slow metabolism and weight gain.
Unfortunately, thyroid conditions are one of the most under-diagnosed problems in the western world. Partly because the symptoms of them can easily be mistaken for other things such as being unfit, or inactive, or depressed. Having said that, a simple test will diagnose this problem for you. One that you can request from your doctors, endocrine specialist, or even online.
Apart, from thyroid conditions, there are other underlying problems that may result in you having energy issues. Even if you are eating a healthy, well-rounded diet.
It could be that you have anemia, which is an iron deficiency. To help combat this ensure you eat lots of leafy green vegetables like kale and cabbage, as that is rich in iron. You can also take an over the counter iron supplement from your chemists.
One easy way of establishing that you have an issue with anemia is to pull down your lower eyelid. If the inside part stays white for a long time, then it’s likely that the are not enough red blood cells in your system.
Of course, this should only be used as an indication, and you should go to you doctor for a proper diagnosis. Especially as there are lots of different type of anemia. Some of which, like pernicious anemia cannot be treated through diet. As they are rooted in the body’s inability to break down and absorb food correctly.
Also, don’t forget that our psychology can have an effect on our energy levels as well. That means you could be eating healthily, and still feel tired all the time. That is why you should discuss the possibility of being tested for these conditions like anxiety and depression with your doctor.
Remember depression can cause you to lose interest in the things you once enjoyed. While anxiety can be so exhausting to cope with that, it’s no surprise that you feel tired all of the time. That is why it is vital to get these conditions under control if you have them. As by doing this you can increase your energy levels.
How to make healthy eating work for you
So, in summary, a healthy diet is a balanced diet. It does occasionally include treats, and it should not be so restricted that it is not practical to maintain.
You should also go to your doctors if you continue to have weight or energy issues when eating healthy. As this may be a sign of an underlying problem that you will need medication to get on top of.